The girl is Alondrita, Félix' eldest daughter, who's emerged from a particularly acute case of the Terrible Two's—when she'd react to a friendly gesture with a scowl or a screaming fit and was generally insufferable—and blossomed into a charming, giggly and even flirty girl not afraid to give me a hug whenever we meet.
|Ready for her close-up|
Stew and I have known Alondrita almost since she was born and were quietly worried about her abilities. Despite having only a sixth-grade education, Félix is as smart as anyone I've ever known personally but three of his six siblings, a boy and two girls, are mentally handicapped and illiterate. So Stew and I feared that perhaps Alondrita might have inherited some of those deficient genes.
Not to worry: she readily picks up and remembers information, and during our last class even corrected me when I showed her a picture of white bear that I described as a plain oso. "That's an oso polar," she said. To me, all indications are that she's a smart and delightful kid.
In fact she recognized all the animals in pictures I showed her except for a bat and an iguana, thanks no doubt to Félix keeping his TV tuned in to Animal Planet in Spanish as faithfully as Republicans have theirs locked on Fox News.
|Looking for an "A"|
We had noted that many kids younger than Alondrita—albeit whiter and from better economic circumstances—would sit at restaurants and play with their smart phones or computer tablets and ignore all conversation at the table. Even in Mexico computer literacy starts at an early age and apparently so does computer-related rude behavior.
The problem I've noticed is that Alondrita apparently hasn't been taught much. I remember reading and writing quite fluently at her age, though Mexican schools might operate on a different time zone. I'm not a teacher or ever raised any kids either so I hesitate to pass definitive judgment on her progress.
As we head for our third class this weekend in a corner of the garage, with either Félix or his wife standing by like hawks nervously keeping an eye on one of their chicks, we'll type vowels and then try to connect them with consonants to form syllables.
I'm sure that Alondrita will catch on quickly. She's learned the location of many of the letters as well as the Space, Enter and Backspace keys, though for some reason she seems afraid of the mouse. Meanwhile, I'll start prowling the internet for games and other learning aids in Spanish.
Another unexpected challenge, though, is her three-year-old brother Edgar who is stuck in the two-year-old phase and very jealous of all the attention Alondrita is getting. He loiters around the garage during our lessons, pestering the dogs and kicking things around.
I wish the little shit would get over it.