Friday, March 21, 2008

Don't Cry for Me, Genevieve

My dear Genevieve Rosa has been going to school at Colegio Teizcali for about a month. She's in maternal, the room with the toddlers and post-toddlers, whatever they are called. Pre-preschoolers?

She cries big fat tears at drop off and pick up, yet spends her days dancing and singing. The teachers, Liliana and Olgita, are so loving toward her, but rather strict with me, always kicking me out of the classroom.

And then there's the classroom. It was jarring at first, its relative emptiness. There are no tables with manipulatives or playdough or anything, really. There are art supplies, a bookshelf with about 10 books, about 20 broken-down toys, and that's it.

I was surprised because this is a private school and part of our tuition bill is for school supplies. It seemed kind of stark. But then I talked to some moms, including some expatriate moms. One of them, Liz, told me something very significant: "We're used to so much stuff. They don't really need it."

She was right. I watched Genevieve and the others. They dance together and hold hands. They get sponges and wipe down the courtyard. They walk around the classroom babbling, and follow the teachers to visit other classes and watch the older kids at work. The children are content. They don't seem to miss the toys and actually play with each other. Perhaps this is the kind of experience that makes Mexicans a more communal culture than the United States. A world away from the cult of the individual.

And the most joyful sign of Genevieve's adjustment to school is that, when we come to collect her, she is covered in paint and food and sparkles.

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