(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.