Saturday, March 16, 2013

Report cards and man cards

Ever since we moved to Mexico my husband has been talking about how much he wished he would have gone to prepa (high school) and that with prepa under his belt, he would be able to get a much better job. So of course he was excited when he found out that his maquila would pay for him to attend school and even held classes that worked with his schedule, right there on site. Much to my surprise, the registration deadline came and went, and he never signed up. I didn't push him because I knew that there is only one thing that I bothers my husband more than his Mexican salary and that's his Mexican education, or lack thereof.

This is one of those things that swipes his man card right out from under him. It's a sensitive subject. I knew that if I meddled, he would be offended. He's quick to assume that I judge him for not finishing school. He sees his wife, who got almost 15 years of a top notch education, and just assumes that I must have some underlying opinions about his intelligence. I'm not making assumptions here, we've had this conversation a million times.

What he doesn't fully grasp is that my pre-college education was free of charge (with the exception of the years I was in Catholic school by my mother's choice) and a completely different experience than his. I went to school for 7 hours a day instead of his 4. I had tutors available when I was struggling. I had all of the supplies I needed and resources like the Encyclopedia (years later the internet) and a library card. I wouldn't even begin to compare my schooling in Kansas City/Rockford/Tempe to that of his in Hidalgo del Parral. How could I? His perspective is skewed and I'm not sure how I can get him to see the bigger picture.

The registration deadline for prepa came and went several times, but finally, he enrolled, and began classes in January of this year. He came home from his first day of classes looking defeated and I felt horrible. He wanted to understand every concept in an instant. His first classes were Algebra and Chemistry. I was able to help him with his math homework to some extent, but it was a struggle. I'm good at Algebra, thanks to countless tutoring sessions with Mrs. Mann back in the day, but let's be honest, I'm not a good teacher. Why is it that I can train new employees to excel in their careers but am somehow incapable of explaining what x equals to my husband? I haven't figured it out yet. Maybe it's not my inability to teach rather than the fact that there is too much emotion and tension with the subject of education in my house? I can't figure it out.

We struggled for a few weeks before I realized that this is something he is going to have to do himself. I stressed the fact that it took many years for me to fully understand certain concepts. I got him a couple of notebooks and mechanical pencils and showed him how to search for instructional videos on YouTube and printed out a copy of the Periodic Table. After several weeks I found that all I could do was show him my support and then let him loose. I pressed the issue of him staying after class to talk to the teacher and explained how much I struggled in school to get the good grades that I did.

It's been a couple of months but I feel like we've finally turned a corner. He's stopped turning to me for answers and explanations and started seeking them out on his own. I haven't had to ask him if he needs help and he seems to have figured out a homework schedule that works for him and I couldn't be prouder. I can't even begin to imagine what it's like to suck up your pride and go back to school after so many years. I have several friends who have done it, in addition to my husband, and I just cannot commend them enough. I know it's such a struggle to fit in work schedules and children and everything else that comes in with life as an adult. Let's just say that thinking about social sciences and geometry is something I haven't done in a long time.

At the end of the day, I am so proud of my husband. I hope that he knows that. I hope he realizes that I commend him and think he is one of the most intelligent people I have ever met. I don't measure intelligence by college degrees framed proudly on the wall, nor by resumes or big vocabularies or report cards. I measure it by understanding and life experience and love. Hopefully when he reads this, he sees that, yet remembers the power of education and all that it provides.


  1. Right on Gordo!!! Make us proud!!! I hope you finish school not just for a better job but for a life goal!!! I always admire a person who no matter what wishes to better himself!! Lots of love from a fellow housewife of Cd. Juarez!!

  2. I don't know how many times my husband has thrown that in my face about how I act like I'm better because I have an education. My gosh, my degree has done absolutely nothing for me in life except rack up the student loans! Jose wants to go to school to be a personal trainer but we can't find the information in Spanish here in the US. Maybe he'll be able to get a chance when he goes home.

    Best of luck to Gordo!

  3. I think that is awesome! It's NOT easy, but it is worth it! Especially in is everything. There is surprisingly money to be made there (legally,even) if you have an education. We should never stop learning, we should always keep growing, and have goals, and never just settle. That is the right track!

  4. That is awesome!1 I just started college in September. It had been 17 years since I was in school. It is very hard, but possible! It takes lots of dedication and desire! That is the best thing that your husband could do! Miguel keeps saying he wants to go back to finish Prepa, but hasn't yet. Maybe this will give him the push.

  5. You're doing all you can do, supporting and encouraging him. When he graduates, be sure to celebrate. Your hubby is my hero!

  6. I know just what you mean. When my husband and I had been together about a year, I had a masters degree and he hadn't finished his GED yet. I started tutoring him but it was really hard to separate my feelings as his girlfriend from being his tutor and there were so many times ingot frustrated with him. Eventually he went to an adult Ed program and did great! He has his GED and even started college.

  7. My mom taught my dad how to read. He was going through the adult school classes as I was in 1st grade. I was pretty pissed that his school went faster than mine. And that he could read faster than me. Still, education is a big source of tension in our house. Years and years later.