Poco a Poco

Little by little…that’s how life is with Cailyn.

Our sweet Cailyn started her first day of preschool this past Monday, and it has been a great experience so far.  Just to backtrack a bit…

For several months now we have really been praying about the decision to put her into a Nido (preschool) here in Peru.  I just adore having her at home and preparing things for us to do, and I have realized that God has really put it on my heart to be very intentional with our kids in this way.  I even bought a lesson planning book while we were in the States and wrote out what we would (*most likely) do each week for almost our first 2 full months that we would be back here in Peru.  It has served me extremely well, and I have LOVED having the work done ahead of time.  It makes things much less stressful!  In addition to that, Justin has built shelves in our guest bedroom closets that are full of craft supplies, activity books, educational books, games, etc. (mostly thanks to my mom!).  It is honestly my favorite room in the house now!  We’ve recently had a ton of work done to our house thanks to our landlord, and in addition to that work, we finally got the kids’ rooms and the guest room painted.  I’m very pleased with how they all turned out, and we have officially turned our guest room into an activity room/office (with a kid’s work table and small reading corner for the kids).  Corban’s room will now be for guests when they come.  ALL of that to say…I love being organized when it comes to doing things with the kids, and I’ve found that our best days happen when I have some sort of idea ahead of time as to what we might be doing that day.  So, why would I want to send Cailyn to preschool if I could do anything they are doing right here in my home?

Believe me, I truly wrestled with this, cried over the uncertainty of what we should do, wondered what was best, talked it out with Justin till we were blue in the face, prayed, and prayed, and then we finally decided…

Kid’s Place.  That’s where she would go.

I can honestly say that our life here is great in so many ways.  I love being a mom here for a lot of reasons.  But…that doesn’t mean it hasn’t also been hard.  God has brought me to a place where I am more open to see how he will lead us amidst a life where Cailyn has school each morning from 8:30-12:45pm.  I have realized that having our child in a setting in which she can be with fluent Spanish speakers is the way God has it for us now, and that is ok.

I know I’ve written a lot about Cailyn and her personality on this blog, so this might not be new for any of you…BUT…Cailyn is 100% timid here.  She rarely initiates conversation with anyone new here.  If they speak Spanish and she doesn’t know them well, it’s like pulling teeth to get her to even smile, much less extend an “hola” to them.  She watches other kids on the playground, but rarely does she interact with them much more than saying hi or following them around from a distance.  She is just very unsure, and it comes out through a lack of conversation, ignoring others when they speak to her, and sometimes just flat out being ugly to our spanish-speaking friends.

When we were in the States for those 4 months, we saw a very different child.  In fact, she made conversation with the American man who was sitting in front of us on our flight to Texas back in September nearly the entire trip back!  She made new friends fairly easily, she talked to complete strangers with ease, and she was much more open to the English-unknown than she has EVER been to the Spanish-unknown.  I began praying while in the States that she would take her newly found confidences back home to Peru with her.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Cailyn will always somewhat be like I am describing…slow to warm up, easy to misunderstand sometimes, and then sometimes just down right rude with her anti-meet-new-people attitude..no doubt this will always be something we work on with her.   But, we are looking forward to seeing how God will grow her as she experiences this new schedule.

With one week of school under her belt, she is still showing signs of her old self.  I mean…duh.  It’s been one week.  BUT, I am so excited to have also seen some huge strides in Cailyn’s willingness and ability to interact with Spanish-speakers here even within this first week.  Just to name a couple/few things:

  • She actually said “hola” to our friend from church when that friend came over this past Tuesday night (after day#2 of school) with great enthusiasm and with no pressure from me!
  • She willingly (which is absolutely amazing) gives “besos” (kisses to say hi or bye) on most occasions now at school and sometimes outside of school.  This is some serious “your in my personal space” action for her!
  • She actually told me what she would need to say IN SPANISH if she wanted to know someone’s name at school.  She has known for a couple of years what “Cómo te llamas?” means, but she has literally never asked someone that on her own initiative before.

Now, these things are ABSOLUTELY no big deal for almost all of our other team children.  In fact, nearly all of the older kids speak a ton more Spanish than Cailyn, and saying “hola” or “cómo te llamas?” would be something they would laugh at if someone were to ask if they really knew how to say those things…but…not for our Cailyn.  She is definitely taking things “poco a poco” (little by little), and we could not be more proud of her for not only enduring, but enjoying her first week of school.

Miss Rossana, her Spanish teacher, has been WAY patient with her!  She reports to me that Cailyn generally stays by her side much of the time, does not really speak to the other kids much, sort of turns her head when they try and speak to her, but does not cry at all.  I’ve not been surprised by all of this, really, although I can definitely say God is teaching me so much about how to be patient, compassionate, and encouraging.  You see, I could not be described as a “stick by the teacher and don’t talk to others” kind of person.  I have never been to preschool in Spanish, but I feel like it would have been true that I might have branched out a bit faster than Cailyn most likely will.  I have found myself wanting to talk her through how to make friends, how to remember to practice her Spanish, and how to be kind so that others will want to play with her…but God has truly put a muzzle on my heart and mouth this past week.  I have been reminded that she is shy even when speaking in English sometimes.  She is slow to warm up with new people, and she cannot be pushed to participate too quickly and not on her own accord.  She is her father’s child! 😉

I selfishly want her teachers and classmates to know the true Cailyn that I know…NOW!  I want them to see immediately how wonderful she is, how kind she is to others, how much she has matured in this past year, how wonderfully attentive to detail she is, how amazingly well she speaks, and so.much.more.  But, I am being called to wait.  I am being told to be patient.  And…if I can be completely honest…I am receiving a lesson on relinquishing control.  I have issues with that. 🙂

I told Justin yesterday that I have been impressed with her school so far.  I am also so very glad that God is allowing Cailyn to work through her language learning/confidence skills at an early age.  Thank you, God for caring for our family during this transition!

Cailyn outside of her school on her first morning.  She was SO EXCITED!!

C and her sweet, sweet teacher…Miss Rossana..

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4 responses to “Poco a Poco

  1. Alison, this sounds wonderful. I think you will be surprised that just being in that totally fluent setting will help her Spanish to “take off” in a few weeks. I am so jealous of how quickly and easily they learn this language. It is funny how Ana has already picked up an accent of sorts from her first week (meaning she is pronouncing some English words as a Peruvian would).
    You made a good decision putting her in school. You are a wonderful momma and I know you will still do so much with her at home. But now look at all the one-on-one time you have with Corban! And Cailyn will love being his Spanish teacher. 🙂 I can’t wait to hear how she progresses through it all.

  2. She is precious. And you are SUCH a good mom. And we miss you guys so much! I am so glad that things are going well. I hope this continues to be a blessing for her and for your family and mission there. Don’t ever doubt it, you are doing an amazing job with her!!

  3. I know you have worked hard on your activity room, i love the idea and I know the kids will have great times in that room. You and Justin are doing a great job of teaching life experiences to Cailyn and Corban. I love hearing how Cailyn has done so far in school. Many victories and much growth is coming to all of us!!

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