Sunday, March 29, 2009

Charlie in his Uniform

As you can see Charlie is still a bit awkward in his school uniform and, as it turns out, in his new life. His school is a 3 minute walk from Alex and Estela's house so when he forgets his shoes he can make a quick trip back to the house for them.

Estela reports that he did not go to school at all last year so he has to make many adjustments in his routine and to the discipline of his Catholic school. One day last week he did not go to school for reasons that are still not clear to me. Something about his uniform pants being wet. Alex reports that Charlie fell out of the top bunk (his first real bed) a couple of times so Denis has changed places with him. Alex also thinks that Charlie is starting to grow a bit with regular meals. Since he is all "skin and bones" I have suggested to Estela that she get some (readily available here) parasite medication for him. Alex, Estela and I have discussed that Charlie is having to deal with a lot of changes and that it may be a while before he settles in. Estela has met with his teacher who finds him very intelligent and a good student.

Charlie grew up with a crazy father ("loco en la cabeza" or "crazy in the head" is the only diagnosis I have been able to get) and a mother who has been pregnant for most of Charlie's life and would rather he babysit than go to school. His parents seem unconcerned that he is living elsewhere and he is struggling academically with the transition from the government school to no school and on to private school. Estela reports that all three of her children are helping Charlie with his school work and explain things that he doesn't understand. Denis worries when Charlie doesn't want to do his homework. I gave Charlie a copy of Charlie y la Fabrica de Chocolate and I was quite impressed with his ability to read after only two years of one of the worst school systems in the western hemisphere. It remains to be seen whether he can comprehend what he reads but perhaps that will come. I brought some math flash cards and the children were quick to show Charlie how to count on his fingers to find the answers. It is fun to watch Alexander (perhaps he is finally growing up himself) assume the father role with Charlie and also to watch the kids doing what they can to bring him up to speed. Thanks to the Rotary Club of Woodside/Portola Valley for funding a scholarship that is making it possible for Charlie to go to school.

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