[Ok, full disclosure...he hasn't ALWAYS made me proud. As you may or may not know, he attended the Italian school until this past year when he went the American school for the 5th grade. In the Italian school, the kids have something called a "diario" into which they write everything from their homework to announcements to letters home to their parents. Once, when he was in third grade in the Italian school, I got called in to see his teacher. She showed me a page in his diario that contained a message to us about him not bringing all of his school materials to class despite being warned several times about it. Now, the fact that neither his mother nor I speak fluent Italian was a constant source of frustration for us as we could not fully help him with his homework (I am probably the only parent outside of China who paid over $15 and hour for a tutor for a third grader). Anyway, the teacher showed me the diario entry, pointed to my wife's signature at the bottom of the page and kept saying something about us having to sign the page. Though my Italian is admittedly limited, I could tell she was talking about us signing his diario but it wasn't making sense because I could clearly see Virginia's signature on the page. Eventually it became clear; Xavier had actually forged Virginia's signature on the page. It was such a good copy that he had actually fooled me! I was absolutely floored that a third grader could copy my wife's signature so amazingly close but there it was. It took me a while but I eventually got over it. I assure you, it was not easy. Sometime during his 4th grade year he started asking is he could go to the American school. I couldn't understand it at first but eventually it dawned on me that he was under the impression that the American school would be easier than the Italian school.]
When the LQA nightmare started last year, it was clear that one way or the other, we would be headed back to the States before the year was up. With this in mind we decided to honor his wishes and place him in the American school on base. He adapted immediately and after one week announced that he much preferred the American school to the Italian. Because he'd only attended Italian schools previously, they recommended he attend ESL (English as a Second Language) classes once a day to ensure that he kept up with his classmates who'd spent their entire scholastic career (such as it was) in American schools. I'd spoken with his teacher and with the guidance counselor about his situation and both assured me that he was having no problem adjusting, and both even said that they'd never have known that this was his first year attending American school if I hadn't told them. Several times during the year his teacher reported to me that he was doing very well, that he was one of her best students, one of the most curious and inquisitive and always fully engaged in class discussions and such. For my part, I have worked with him a lot over the past year to ensure that his grades were kept up and that he understood his assignments and got them done on time and correctly. He even won the "Good Citizenship" award which is awarded to students who display exceptional behavior, participation and achievement in class. I was so damned proud of him.
Well, today I received the email I'd dreaded all year:
"Mr. Thibodeau, Mrs. B is most upset lately w/ Xavier's behavior in
her class. He seems to have mentally 'moved' on....not wanting to be
cooperative much anymore."
Mrs. B is Xavier's ESL teacher. Her email to Xavier's teacher was thus:
"Xavier is being disrespectful to me, won't complete his work, will not
do what I ask him to do and talking while the other students are trying
to finish their work. He was trying to pull a paper out of my hand as I
was going over his work."
I was completely livid when I read this. I've always raised the X Man to be respectful of his elders, particularly his parents and teachers. I could not understand what was going on. Just two weeks ago he was very disrespectful to his mother which resulted in him being sent to his room and a serious heart to heart talk with me whereby he promptly apologized to Virginia and promised he would never talk to her like that again. Fortunately I received the email before he arrived home because my first instinct was to fly off the handle and yell and scream at the top of my lungs; unfortunately I have inherited my father's infamous temper which I have been working hard to not let get the best of me because I don't want my kids growing up terrified of me the way I was of my father. Upon picking him and Luca up at the bus stop we went to get a snack at Bar da Silvia as is our custom. Once there I asked Xavier if he had something to tell me and to his credit he was very forthcoming. It was very difficult for me but I remained completely calm, told him that as soon as we got home he would write a letter to his ESL teacher apologizing for his behavior and informed him of his further punishments. Surprisingly he was very contrite and agreed that he needed to apologize to his teacher. On the way home he actually thanked me for not losing my temper and yelling at him even though he knew how angry I was. It was a very humbling moment for me.
So anyway, my fears seem to be coming true - that Xavier is sort of "checking out" because he knows we're leaving soon and doesn't feel like he needs to put forth the effort in school. And in the bigger picture, we have noticed that his attitude and effort have been declining since he started hanging out with the American kids at school and in the neighborhood. We are seriously considering looking at private schools when we get to the US. He's a bright kid and has a great future but he is impressionable and I don't want him to waste what God has given him. This parenting stuff is not easy...