Sweet Mexican Education


(My latest Love in Mexico correspondence essay is live on National Geographic’s Glimpse.org. An excerpt is below, or read the whole thing here.)

“Dulce, dulce, dulce, dulce,” sings my two-year-old son as I stroller him over cobblestones.

Yes, “candy” is one of the first Spanish words he has learned since moving to Mexico. It turns out that Morelia, this highland city of rain-pocked stone, is to dulces and children what Jalisco is to tequila and twenty-somethings: Heaven.

As someone raised on whole wheat and homegrown everything in middle America, I can’t quite describe the horror I felt when my son came to me sucking on a lollipop at the end of his first day of daycare in Mexico. Seeing that forbidden pink between his lips was a bittersweet mothering moment: a premonition of the day I will discover his generation’s equivalent of pot paraphernalia stashed in an underwear drawer, or Playboys under the bed.

Tomorrow I will speak to his teachers, I vowed that first day.

But living abroad, like parenting, is all about adaptation and acceptance. “Tomorrow” became next week, and by then it was too late. I got used to the idea that sugary incentives were part of the school’s pedagogy (a Pavlovian twist on Maria Montessori’s method), and my routine-loving toddler expected them.

[Continue reading…]

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