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.


Lisa said...

Hi Mieke

Well done with the new blog. Know what you mean about the call to go home. I have moved away twice and come home twice. I think your kids are great and I like having someone to talk to about ww2 without them getting bored!

See you soon

Mieke said...

Thanks Lisa!
Yes, I suppose some of the moves within this country must also be like moving from one culture to another! Being married to a Geordie I've always been made to believe 'Southerners' are a different species altogether ;).