School children in Puerto Vallarta, public and private, from pre-kindergarten to high school graduates are well dressed, tidy, and start each day with nary a hair out of place. They wear crisp uniforms and shoes are shined to a gleam. Regardless of economic background, these students start their days with a mother’s blessing and probably a reprimand. For the largest percentage, they are well behaved in public. Giggling and some boisterous displays can often be seen but usually quite benign in nature. School regulations are strict and slovenliness is not tolerated. It’s refreshing to see from a Northerner’s perspective. We worry whether our children will be shot in school, whereas south of the border, having proper knee socks tops the list of daily concerns.
We have the pleasure of watching youth on buses. sitting in seats, calmly watching out windows, waiting for their stop. Sometimes a small boy will board and play horrible tunes, sing, and perhaps strum some kind of instrument and when passing a cup for change, will be polite and gracious, even if we’ve just given him money to shut up and get off the bus. We find that when we ride the bus in our own country, we are simply praying the kids who board the bus are only going to the next stop.
What is the difference in these children that makes them more obedient and seemingly more respectful than their Northern counterparts? Firmness and a lack of leniency at home; kids in Puerto Vallarta just don’t get away with the same kind of stuff.
Though many assume it’s the fatherly influence, that’s not normally the case. Discipline and obedience are the result of the mother’s persuasion. Machismo isn’t something found in a Mexican kitchen, where home-life exists. Parental control is a serious matter and children in Puerto Vallarta know who they answer to in matters of conformity. Traditional values are a huge factor. Mothers use a calm demeanor while striking the fear God within the family. There is a lack of harshness on the whole and even the language represents this, with its soft romantic tones. In Spanish “you can’t” translates to “no se puede.“ We rarely hear the moms in our neighborhood yelling at their progeny. Mexican children listen to their mothers and revere them, placing them high on an invisible pedestal, next to the beloved virgin. The worst thing one can say to a Mexican is about defiling his mother and they are strong fighting words, rarely spoken.
Friends have asked us about moving their children to Puerto Vallarta and sending them to local schools. We think it’s a marvelous idea and encourage them to spend time in the homes of their schoolmates.
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