Thursday, 10 November 2011

Goodbye, hello

Here is something I find difficult to do in the home ed world. It's doubly difficult now I'm lifted out-of-home and plunged overseas.

Say good bye.

This week I sadly said good bye to a home ed family I got used to. The daughter, thirteen-years sulky, carrying who gives a fuck where I am lip. The son, nine-year old, in permanent grin because Hong Kong escalators are the best in the world. (Have you ridden the mid-levels ride?) The mother - how patient was she with that lip! - always welcoming us with a calm observation and a friendly smile for Tiger, who scowled back.

But each of them shared part of their ordinary home ed experience with us - in parks, playgrounds, museum, skate rinks, house parties.

I like to think each of them too affected each of my children in turn. Shark's echoed comment, the one I heard before from the escalator enthusiast, told me it was so. Or Squirrel's hopeful eyes when she shyly pushed her email address, written in fragile pencil on a paper scrap, over to The Lip. And Tiger, staring in fixed disbelief at another mother's wise words on how hard it is to travel and make new friends. She says, Tiger, it doesn't mean you betrayed the old ones.

This is the family I was grateful for and grew used to. And now I have to say, good bye.

I'm getting used to this, too. The routines of good byes. The home ed world here in Hong Kong, it's highly mobile. Parents move in and out from short-term stays and two-year contracts. Some kids join a group for only a term until the school place comes to them. Other kids emerge, the sons and daughters of artists, scholars, government officials and corporate employees. A few families stay for years. They'll linger long after me and my brood have flown back home.

Home. That's the place with those people I've known for years, and years. People who educate for the long term. Maybe like us, they thought it could be tried until their child reached age seven. Go on, let's continue to age eleven. Then, make that decision, to age fourteen. Soon it will be, What's the point? She wants college anyhow, she doesn't want to join school now, and the exams list is filled with interesting courses.

Well, maybe I want to reassure anyone wondering on home ed, that it's normal, the way the home ed world works, people coming and going; the temporary and the old timers. Socialisation with us is simply not the same you get in school. Out here, wherever you are in this world, there's just no shortage of friends who stay for a day, for a month, and for years.

Maybe I'm reassuring myself. Saying good bye is always difficult.

But within days, I can guarantee I'll be saying, Shark, Tiger, Squirrel, come over here. This is Jane and her daughter Louise. Make sure you say hello.

1 comment:

kelly said...

When we moved from Scotland to Wiltshire, and my eldest was at school, it took me literally months to hold a conversation in the playground at pick up time.

Now, we've moved to Wales but are HE and the welcome is so different. There has been a social whirl that has left me worn out, and instead of hovering on the edges of the group, we are right smack in the centre being asked all about's great (although I can't help but feel that some canny HE Mums are trying to work out what skills we'll bring to the group!)