brakes and accelerators {an adoption thought}

you can do this! we learned it last week. if I had 2 sets of four, how many do i have?

10?

what?

it's the same as 4+4!

oh, 8, then.

yes!

now, how do you spell thursday?

wait...why you are you using your fingers to spell thursday?

because i know that it has 8 letters.

what? who taught you that?

i did.

i shake my head. most of the head shaking is because i don't know what i'm doing!

here's our story:

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our ten year old daughter jumped feet first into our family 10 months ago.

she has a long list of what she wants to do in life including tennis, playing the piano, speaking on stage, riding a bike, and playing in the snow.

but her drive for learning math and reading is, well... it's getting better!

if it doesn't require much brain space, we call it easy.

biting into an apple is easy.

if it requires some thinking and figuring out and talking it out and working in out and getting handy...we call it learning.

sounding out a word is learning.

telling time is learning.

she had no formal education from what we can gather and spent her 5-9 years of life in an orphanage and went to "school."

of course, those years, she was taught in her native language and speaks none of it among us now.

 so i started homeschooling her with kindergarten in august.

we knew our city district would require her to go into at least 3rd grade and she wasn't ready for that.

we are fortunate that i stay at home and could be her teacher, though i felt and still feel ill-equipped.

we had pre-determined that i would teach her at home for one year and that she would join her brothers at their elementary school.

it's been a tough road for me. i had rose-colored glasses on in how our days would be spent, me reading to her for a while, then her picking up those books and reading to me. us galavanting around the city at the zoo and museums discussing matters of science and technology and how things work and dreaming about the future together.

i thought she would love to learn from me {ha!} and that my strategy for teaching would be her perfect way of learning.

i didn't think it would be this.

one minute putting on the brakes and the other minute pressing the accelerator.

this is how I'm living as a adoptive-mom-who-is-homeschooling-our-daughter-in-her-first-year-of-life-with-us.

my role is more like a tutor where i can gauge what she's comprehending and make a future lesson plan based on that.

we can spend more time on number grids because they're challenging at the present

and less time on coins because we've talked about them for as long as lincoln has been dead.

yet the hard part in driving this journey is knowing when to stop and spend more time and when to push forward.

to stop and make sure the foundation of reading and addition and subtraction are there.

yet to press the accelerator because she will be in fourth grade in august and will be expected to know multiplication.

she doesn't have the luxury of taking 4 years with kindergarten through 3rd grade. she's an older adopted child and this is a sacrifice on her part.

she has to learn quick. she has had to re-wire her mind to be always learning and to remember what she has learned.

she has had to learn to apply what she's learning in math when she's counting her money or when we're cooking.

at the orphanage, she seldom left the grounds. she didn't get to use what she was being taught.

i tell her that she has a "holding place" in her brain that holds information

and that she has a "working place" in her brain where wheels are moving and helping her process and figure things out.

that "holding place" stores memories and such.

that "working place" was dormant for years.

it's a beautiful thing to see her thinking. to see her wondering.

i'm not her favorite person when i press the accelerator at certain times

and she's not a princess when she refuses to try something hard.

but if you were to hear her today, you'd be like "wow! your english is great, kavita!" or "you've grown so much in the past 10 months!" and i'd agree with you. she certainly has. she's made the sacrifice and can't wait to join her brothers in school in the fall. she's a social one and the two of us staring at each other at "lunch" is very un-enchanting.

it's been quite a learning process of brakes and accelerators.

and it's not just bound to teaching an adoptive child.

it's caring for your elderly parents.

it's pushing through a busy work season to get to take a break and rest.

it's receiving wisdom and choosing to move forward or slow down.

it's wanting more for your child when he refuses to budge or wanting your child to slow down when he's doing too much.

it's looking at the calendar and feeling like there's no brake to press.

it's accelerating through 2016 and feeling like time is not on our side.

you and me, we need to take a drive.

not through my city. there's constant stop signs and traffic lights that give my shins a fit.

not down the 101. oh please!

but along the coast. around the bends. along the water's edge. along the cliffs.

where the beauty lies. where brakes and accelerators are needed.

to stop and see what's most important and to press forward believing something spectacular is still to be seen.

kavita has consistent park dates and we have friends over and she loves to run errands with me like the boys did when they were preschool age. she takes swim on friday mornings and gets some good daddy time on his day off. and yes, we've been to the zoo, the nursing home to read to the residents, to the beach on a sunny day, to the academy of science, to the asian art museum, and i'd keep listing them to clear my conscience, but i've got to get back to the accelerator.

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