For to be free is not to merely cast off one's chains,
but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
- Nelson Mandela -

Monday, February 26, 2007

Looking back

I don't often look back. Not because I think I shouldn't, but more because I need all my energy and brain capacity to live in the present and stay focussed on what I'm doing at the moment.
Last week has been really hectic and intense, with many things going on, and I have been looking back quite a lot.

One of the main issues was that dd AL has decided she doesn't want to continue her National Diploma Horse Management Course next year. She got her First Diploma Horse Care last year with only distinctions and was very positively motivated to do the two year ND course. She and we knew it was going to be a lot harder and a lot more academic, but she was ready for the challenge and of course we were ready to support her in whatever way necessary.
But for reasons unknown to AL or us, her tutor doesn't seem to like her. She's called AL many unpleasant names and refuses to make allowances for AL's dyslexia, even though the Learner Support Assistant has specifically asked for it. Apparently, in the last tutorial she's called AL lazy and unfit, said she hadn't managed to rise above the FD level and suggested that people like herself payed tax to let people like AL 'piss it away on free education'. Pardon my French, but that's literally what she said.
Strange thing is that we'd just received a very positive Student Progress Report...
And as for calling her lazy and unfit, AL is all too often the only one turning up for weekend and early morning yard duties, mocking out and shifting shite on her own...
AL phoned home in tears, said she'd put up with enough and this was just too much. It all comes on top of the fact that she has to work with horses in a way that's totally against everything she believes in (natural horsemanship). When we went for the intake interview two years ago, this same tutor said she'd welcome input from a different angle, but all she's done so far is laugh in AL's face when she brings it up or tries something out, while AL is making a genuine effort to learn as much as possible about and be open to the 'regular' way.

We are going to have a talk with this tutor on Wednesday. Ken is fuming and yes, I am too. But I'm not sure yet how to go about this. One thing I've learned from my 'fight' with the Dutch authorities is not to spend valuable energy and time on fighting, unless I know exactly why I'm doing it, what my aim is and what my priorities are.
Right now I tend to think that my priorities are with AL, making sure I'm giving her the support she needs. After having talked and thought about it over and over again, she is quite determined about what she wants and what she doesn't want: She does not want to go back for the second year, but she wants to go back to Holland and study and live there. She does want to do her six week work experience placement with her 'old' Natural Horseman Riding School in Holland, if only to regain her confidence and enjoyment with horses. She'll still be going to Holland next weekend to set that up.
And she'll start thinking about what kind of course she'd like to do. There's plenty time to sort all that out.

Obviously, I am very sad that she's going back to Holland. I was so happy when it looked as if she'd found her place in this country. But she says she's always felt out of place, foreign, and to be honest unhappy here. She's really given it a good try and she's also made quite a few friends here, but still... the Dutch way of life just suits her much better than the English one.

Anyway, AL wanting to go back obviously raised my internal and eternal question again: Do I want to go back to Holland. I, too, miss a lot of things and especially a lot of people. I find it really hard to set up a social network here, with friends and kindred spirits that I feel connected, comfortable and at home with. I desperately miss the day to day communications that kept me going in times of temporary insanity, I miss the familiarity of things, I miss being able to communicate in my own language about things that really concern me as well as about trivial things.
So my first thought was: Does this maybe mean that it is time for us to go back to Holland, too?

And then I joined the Far Out Crowd Yahoo Group, a group of home educating people, who share their moments of learning, laughter and sorrow with each other. It turns out a lot of them have children with special challenges, and even quite a few have children with Asperger Syndrome.
It felt really good to open up about myself, about our reasons to home educate in this country, and to talk with people about issues that really concern me.

It made me look back.
Look back to why we came to this country in the first place.
Look back to how it was in Holland before we left, with the burn-out, ratrace, night terrors and overstimuled children.
Look back to a time where it was practically impossible to put the education of the children first and foremost, because we had to fight so hard for the right to do that.

And I realise how good it has been for all of us, even for AL, to move here.
How important it was to feel a family again, to have time for each other, to have the space and the quiet around us to actually feel who we are and what we want with our lives.
So AL wants to go back. So be it. She'll be eighteen this year and she's always made it quite clear that she wants to be independant as soon as possible. It's her choice and she's happy with it. I'll miss her big big big time and even while I'm writing this I'm crying at the thought that she'll be so far away. But at least she's not off into the unknown. She's going to live close to family and friends, probably even moving in with my clan-daughter for a while.
And the other two children are so happy here.
Owen has grown both physically and mentally in a way that I'd never thought possible. He thrives on the space and quiet around us, has some very good friends, loves going to the Bird of Prey Centre and seems to feel so much more at home in his own body.
Myrna loves living where we do, has a whole circle of friends and does everything she's always wanted to do. She is very outspoken about not wanting to go back to Holland.

And to finish off with, because this post is just getting too long...
The best thing in this country is that we have a choice. We can choose to stay out of the thick of things, out of the ratrace, out of politics. We can choose whether to send the children to school or not, and we can even choose that for each individual child. Of course, every choice has another side to it, but for now I am quite happy with the choices we've made.

It was good to look back to how it was and to see how far we've come.

Friday, February 23, 2007


I shouldn't be blogging... I should be writing a story, because there's this deadline and I had planned to have two more stories finished before we go away on the Arnside Youth Hostel weekend with the EO group.
I shouldn't be blogging... because the girls are still in bed and they should get up and have their breakfast and do educational things.
I shouldn't be blogging... because the house is a mess, the dogs need a walk, the cats need feeding and there's these forms for housing benefit to fill in.

I said to Ken this morning that I need more self-discipline. But when I think about it, self-discipline is a horrible thing! It means you have to discipline your Self! And after all these years I had just come to the conclusion that I need to nourish and nurture and love my Self, because if I don't, I can't be a good mother or a good wife or a good writer or a good person!

The fact remains that I need to do all those things I said I should be doing instead of blogging. I think. Well, maybe not. I've just read this article that says that teenagers would function and learn a lot better if they could sleep a bit more and that their most efficient time of the day is the evening rather than the morning. Well, Owen definitely doesn't benefit from long lie-ins, because it makes him grumpy. But he's already up and gone to Kielder with Ken, to do their weekly workday in the Birds of Prey Centre. So, I'll just let the girls sleep.
And yes, the house is a mess. But the kitchen, the toilets and the bathroom are clean and the mess is all part of homeliness. I've just read a lovely poem on the yahoo-site of the Far Out Crowd called This Is a Home Where Children Live, and I'm now convinced that my house is no exception to that of other people with (HE) children.
Both dogs are asleep at my feet, the cats are asleep on top of the cupboard, so the beasties have apparently accepted the fact that I'm doing something else right now. Walks and feeds later.
I'll fill the forms in tonight, together with Ken.
That leaves the stories to be written. I cannot escape that, because we desperately need the money and there's this deadline. So I'll set myself to it. Once I've got the first 1000 words down, the rest will come a lot easier.
I know what I'll do: I'll put some more birdfood on the feeder table just outside my window, so I can watch the birds while I'm working, I'll make myself a fresh pot of tea and something to eat, turn the little electrical radiator up one touch... and then I'll start working.
When I first nourish, nurture and love my Self, maybe I do not need to discipline it anymore...

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

My first time :)

Yes, I'm going to do it!
I have overcome and jettisoned all the buts and what-ifs and allowed myself this way of keeping track of myself. A kind of self-monitoring, so to speak;).
I know it's going to cost me valuable time, but I've got more than one good excuse to do it anyway.
- It's going to be good practice in writing English
- I've really missed keeping a diary and this will be a reasonably good replacement
- It'll help me create a new network (or extend the existing, mainly Dutch one)
- It'll give family and other loved ones a chance to keep up with what's going on within this family in this far away place
- Everybody seems to be doing it and I like reading other people's blogs, so it's only fair to give them a little peek into our never-a-dull-moment life.

There, that's good enough, isn't it?