A Lesson On Resiliency and a Parent's Nightmare.... Part 2
As it so happens, and totally by accident I came across this little gem at a dusty thrift store a week before the seminar I mentioned in Part One.
Mexican High by Liza Monroy - Random House
Those who really know me would agree that I'm often moved by books. I've been known to have deep pangs of conscience that cause me to want to change the whole landscape of my life after reading an eye opening book or two. Well, Mexican High falls into that category.
It is a fiction based on the real experiences of a US diplomat's daughter who moves to Mexico City during her senior year and begins honing her skills as a writer through that experience. That's the gentle summary. My opinionated summary- It's a chilling "coming of age" story about a young lady with either whack-job or completely absent parents, too much freedom and a disturbing inability to see impending danger in her choices and relationships. I suppose the author would say her protagonist was sufficiently resilient because she made it through her senior year mostly in one piece and mostly without therapy, at times completely heartbroken and alone, other times triumphant and able to see her mistakes.
It seems like some of the kids we know here have shared in several of the same experiences as the girl in the book (not just the alcohol and drug part) and it just seems ironic to me that while I was learning about some of them round around the same time I started reading the book- and then we went to that seminar where we heard the older FS kids speak. It was like a veil was lifted and I could see it- and it was not what I had originally pictured (for better and worse).
Most readers don't know my background but I have worked with kids for years- middle and high school kids mostly- in various settings. I teach art and somehow I often come across kids who are struggling with "stuff". This painting on the left was painted by one of my students at a child advocacy center where the kids were either in the foster system or in counseling for abuse. So, when I hear about my kids' friends who are in a hard spot I naturally want to invite them over and pull out the acrylic paints and get them painting something! So, please believe me- I write this not as a critique of FS kids, but as a person who cares and has some experience working with kids who need a safe place to unload. This is what I do- I encourage. As I heard the stories and read this book, I ached for the kids because I know from personal experience that what seems harmless now can be a heartache later. This FS thing brings up a new genre of stuff I am not exactly sure how to deal with just yet- not with my own kids much less someone else's. I suppose that as I write this blog post I am waiting for answer to dawn in my head. It may not come like that, it may be a matter of experience- thus living out the seminar's resiliency theory.
So, if you are a parent and possible applicant for the Foreign Service and you're wondering if your middle/high school kid is going to survive this lifestyle- I'm sure you will want to run out and get this book. It is absolutely worth reading but you MUST keep in mind that it is fiction and therefore some of it will be quite exaggerated. I think it should be required reading for families who are going taking older kids to Mexico City, for sure. Some of her cultural anecdotes and descriptions are so spot on!
One big "Ah ha!" for me was the way the character in the book explained the myriad of crap that comes with moving your senior year. Seriously, the stuff Milagro (main character's name) has expressed has basically jolted me out of denial on some of the feelings my daughter has probably experienced due our move here- thus softening my heart for Hannah beyond just feeling guilt over it.
And, though rarely mentioned, this book also reminds us that the kids from missionary families are not immune to searching for ways to cope and blend in, either. According the book, at the Mexico City International school they are faced with doing as the Romans do or they are marginalized and often stay in a huddle. That makes me think that the peer pressure level is pretty outrageous for those extroverted kids who want to feel included.
Look, I don't want to make crazy assumptions here. But, when I compare the stories I do know and those from the book, they are close enough that they make me think it just might be pretty accurate. So far, I think this book has a level of "believable" that I found both helpful and terrifying.
Also- a helpful tool if you are in the early bidding process: a link to the various drinking ages worldwide as of 2010.
When stuff like Benghazi and this book and all the junk that it seems to confirm, we (Sean and I) are forced to see cost of following our heart. I get afraid and want to run back to my comfort zone but how silly of me not to think that serious concerns aren't also waiting there, right? Somehow, by the grace of God I keep on course and remember the game plan. I am reminded that when I keep my eyes on God, everything else falls into proper perspective.