It’s a strange feeling living in a place without commitment, with three children in tow. It’s all very well saying, ‘Live in the moment,’ but to really immerse in a place one has to put out a lot of energy. Whilst nurturing friendships in our country of origin, we also have to open up – and encourage our children to open up – to new people as well. There have been moments, for certain, of ‘being in the moment’, but they are sometimes short-lived and interspersed with drama from one child, or another. Nevertheless, they are moments, however short or fleeting, to be embraced, savoured and clung to with every cell of our beings.
This week has been one of sending out e-mails to homeschool groups, singing tutors and dance schools (the two latter pursuits for our eldest daughter).
There’s been much researching on the Internet as to various educational opportunities for our school aged children and delight in seeing the various opportunities, of private tutors and the like, available. But all this takes time, research, work, and patience. All of which, us adults respect and understand, but in the meantime our children need happy engagement in ‘the now’.
There’s been the excitement that this choice makes in being able to travel when the man of the house travels – (a week away to San Francisco has been planned – we leave a week on Saturday – driving up the Pacific Coast, from Santa Barbara to San Francisco, taking a weekend, either side of the working week, to enjoy the sights).
Us adult expats (a couple from the UK, having lived 15 years in New Zealand) are now practised in being open to new contacts, friendships, acquaintances and passing moments of inspiring exchange with fellow travellers on life’s journey – but we need to focus on teaching our children to open up. Our younger children – aged 3 and 7 – are much more accepting of this. Our oldest – who is 10, finds this harder. She has left behind an environment, school and friendships that she was comfortable in. She was ‘game on’ for this adventure – but is finding the adaption the hardest. Nevertheless, she’s a trouper and will definitely pull through. She has our love, time and focused attention. All will be well (so we repeat, over and over, to ourselves!).
Once she’s engaged in a new dance school, found a singing coach and has a couple of hours dedicated ‘computer programming’ time with her Daddy (she’s a keen Minecraft learner and has got to the stage where she wants to learn JAVA to start creating her own mods!), she will be fine.
We have an action plan, that includes inviting our ‘gated’ neighbours, in this prestigious area, over for an ‘open day’ at our home. We can hear them playing in pools through the trees – but can’t see them or easily see them to say ‘Hello’ in passing. It’s kind of nice living in a slice of private paradise – but our children need to feel they can play with the neighbours, like they used to do in our friendly nook in Wellington, New Zealand.
We are so fortunate to have online connections to dear friends back in New Zealand through Skype and e-mail, but the children need children their own age to play with too. As much they love each other (and fight at times… siblings!), they still need to have that ‘mix’ of other children, apart from their own family ‘bubble’. Nevertheless, the past ten weeks or so of family intimacy has been of benefit to family harmony, rather than a hindrance. There is definitely more acceptance and getting along, more tolerance and give and take. There is plenty of laughter and harmony ‘in the camp’! Whether it be chilling in the warm spa in the evening, or ‘bombing’ each other in the swimming pool!
Hubbie and I definitely need a little more ‘couple’ time. Our children, between the three of them, burn the candle from 11pm to 5am – there isn’t much time for private relations (so to speak!).
Though this photograph looks the epitome of a perfect ‘couple moment’ at dinner… it was taken by one of our three children – in a fleeting moment, whilst dinner, in a beautiful restaurant, was hurried so as to keep everyone happy and not disturb fellow diners in the prestigious ‘upper village’ of Montecito!
We have three double beds in the house we’re leasing (but with five of us, there had to be some sharing – and currently it’s oldest child sleeping solo – middle child choosing to share with man of the house, youngest wanting to be close to her Mama). We are so hanging out for our personal belongings to arrive off the container from New Zealand – most importantly Miss 3’s futon and Miss 7’s single bed. Finally hubbie and I will be able to have a few hours of ‘snuggle’ time (all I can say is, ‘I’m darn grateful for the ‘walk in wardrobes’ – that are more like ‘bedrooms’ – as they make for perfect ‘quickie’ spots!!).
Enough already!! Take a break, have a coffee (thank the heavens for sending us a place in Santa Barbara that serves a wonderful Latte!!).
We are surviving (the climate does make that pretty easy). The people are friendly (just not easily accessible with the long driveways and gates!), the local convenience stores are laden with delicious delights (but it’s not the same as popping down ‘The Dairy’ in Lyall Bay barefoot, or grabbing a full strength, cuban bean loaded, latte, at the ‘Diamond Deli’). We are finding our way (and making our heads ache with inevitable expat comparisons of one life from another). Where there grass is greener, it also has patches that forever need watering…
No place is perfect, but the more we move about the more we learn – and, more than anything else, it is the people you know that make the place. xx
And, there’s always yoga!!