I have been finding it harder to write in the last few weeks. Firstly nothing much happens, other than our daily routine being in one place. Its been nearly 2 months without being able to go anywhere, other than the nearby beach, the supermarket and our extended bubble with Jonathan and Dot of the “Sunday” boat. Secondly its such a strange time altogether and probably like everybody else we have our ups and downs, fears, worries, wondering what the future holds for humanity. Some days we are fine, enjoying the weather and just taking it as it is, others we feel irritated and down and heavy.
The first few weeks we really just wanted to relax and settle in. We all just needed a break from the months of upheaval. The last 3 weeks we have started a proper homeschooling routine. We signed up to TeKura Distance school in NZ and are very lucky to have a flexible teacher to make things easy for us. Because we have limited data and can’t watch many / any video tutorials we have to do things slightly different from their “normal” program.
Its been a bit challenging to find our way into this new routine. The kids have to learn to work with the laptops and software and all of us are together in such a small space doing different things. On the first day we printed Nina and Luca each a math’s book that the teacher provided us with since ours are still in boxes waiting to be sent from NZ. Nina decided to sit on the deck to solve the Math’s equations. Then Tim called her to help with something down below and the whole book flew off in all directions sinking in the water, flying over boats… I managed to save the pencil and 2 of over 40 pages. So next day we printed it again with our tiny boat printer and have most likely now used most of the toner cartridge… First lesson learned – don’t take loose paperwork up on deck!
We try to wake the kids up around 9, then they have breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth and hair and come to “school” meaning 2 steps back to the Galley table. 2 weeks in I can declare we had some successes and some tears and some shouting matches and banging doors. Its a transition for all of us. So far so good. I have a whole new respect for our teachers who have to manage 30 kids all at the same time while still getting valuable information across – I really have no idea how you do your job and stay sane – big low bow!
While its challenging for me as a parent to learn to support our kids in their learning its also nice to be part of their “formal” learning and see what they are enthusiastic about, what they enjoy, what they struggle with, what motivates them, what frustrates them. For the last years we just handed them over to others to do this work for us. Also I have already learned heaps through their schooling and have to use brain connections that have been dormant for a while. It gives me a better idea if the “learning” that they find difficult or challenging or frustrating is really necessary, e.g. will it support them in future to be well rounded, good, capable human beings and is it worth the battle to hammer potentially unnecessary information into their heads just because its in a curriculum?
One of the things leading up to our journey that both Tim and I realised is that while we both benefited from our schooling in the way of learning to read, write and count among other things, a lot of the information we had to absorb wasn’t really useful in our future lives. In actual fact some subjects that I dreaded I still dread today – its just not me. I grew up in East Germany with the driest education possible – zero creative thinking, activity and choices. When I experienced our children’s education a the waldorf steiner school in New Zealand it felt like heaven compared. I have a huge admiration and gratitude for those teachers laying a good foundation for our kids education in a more gentle and slower way than it would have been at a mainstream school.
It took me 40 years to figure out what makes my heart sing. Tim never had a formal education after school and managed to feed us all and pay our mortgage as photographer – all learned by simply doing and figuring things out along the way. Most of my 3 year apprenticeship was a complete waste of time too. The most useful skill I acquired was typing with 10 fingers – something I am still grateful for – and the practical assignments in the factory. It really makes me question our education system and who benefits from how its structured. The teachers have to manage huge numbers of students, have to complete ridiculous amounts of paperwork and assessments that stamp our kids failures or “not good” enough way to early, if they don’t fit into the boxes provided by the Education system. By the time most of them leave school they are tired, stressed and empty. I think its probably as unsatisfying and stressful for the teachers as it is for the children.
I had quite a few friends who home schooled and unschooled in NZ and this has really opened up my mind to whole different way, seeing that there are are other ways to educate children and allowing them to really explore what they are passionate about from a young age. I can still remember seeing that famous TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson many years ago – it left me with lots of questions and a new, fresh perspective. From what I observed in those home- and unschooled children is that they have a natural drive to learn anyway and if they are supported in what interests them they thrive and seem more rounded and confident beings.’
Before we left NZ I started reading a book called “Hold on to your kids – why parents need to matter more than peers” by Garbor Mate and Gordon Neufield. Its all about why we have so many kids now with problem behaviours. It talks about how parents connection and the adult village around them, that was children’s first point of orientation for many generations, has been replaced by peer connection and withdrawal to a digital world. No surprises here – the parents are too busy earning money to pay the mortgage and make ends meet. Children get sent off to daycare often from only being a few months old. Parents only spend a minimal amount of time with their kids, so our kids bond more with strangers and peers than with parents. That was one of the main points for me, wanting a change. How things where just felt wrong – I got so many nudges from my heart and intuition. I felt our kids slip away – we were distracted and stressed parents.
After just a couple of months I can feel very slowly edging in a bit closer. Yesterday I sat for a couple of hours with Nina on the deck and we read a new book to each other and had dinner together snuggling up. We go for many walks together as a family. We create experiences together rather than each one of us separate with other people. Luca is actually talking to me and I am actually listening, rather than being distracted with a 1,000 other things. We have 98% of our meals together as a family. I am so grateful for this time, to bond again at this critical age & to be able to extend their childhood a bit longer. I really hope it is going to be a positive experience for all of us long term. At least we can’t regret that we didn’t try something different.
Yesterday I learned another new skill. The boys where both looking rather bushy around the head and although the hairdressers were going to open on Monday, there will probably be lots of people wanting to go and we have to be really mindful with our budget. So Tim downloaded a you tube clip on how to do a men’s hair cut. Our “Sunday-boat” neighbors loaned us their clippers and I had purchased hair cutting scissors before we left. I was really worried it would look all weird, as I had only ever cut split ends on long hair or shortened Nina’s long hair.
Well who would have thought, they both look alright. Tim has a bit of a hole at the back of the head (just in the hair not in the skull ;-), but other than that it looks quite acceptable. I was so reliefed and once our boxes arrive we will have our own clippers. Its amazing what you can learn if you need to be resourceful and self sufficient.
Finally we have had some progress on our boxes too. Our shipping agent finally got in touch with new quotes. Air travel for the boxes is now unfortunately out of our budget and only one airline is going, so we choose to send them by ship. They will hopefully leave NZ by early May and arrive mid June in Athens. We might have to come back to Athens to pick them up, but it will be so nice to have our personal things. It will feel like an early Christmas.
Another super positive biggy this week came with huge thanks to our friends Debbie and Brent. Our last asset in NZ has sold. We still had the Toyota Auris being parked in front of their house and Brent had kindly offered to sell it for us. Phew. Thank you so much xxx
What I am so super grateful for at the moment is the kindness of so many people. People we don’t even know sending us messages and checking in. Local people here on the jetties who are kind to us and offering generously to help if we need any. Another person offered to send a parcel with board games from Germany. Our lovely neighbors from Sunday who feel like adopted grand parents. Our friends and family supporting us from afar. We really do feel loved and supported. Among all this chaos and uncertainty in the world it makes me feel hopeful for humanity. Really most people on the ground just grave connection, kindness, gentleness, love and peace. Its the very few greedy, dark “you know who’s” who can’t get enough money, power and control who muck things up for the rest of humanity.
The last 2 weeks I have been doing a bit of reading with things that people send me or that I researched. I can’t watch videos at the moment, but from what I gather, the situation we are finding ourselves in is not as clear cut as mainstream media are trying to make it out. I have been going from feeling o.k. to being saturated by fear and uncertainty, to being so angry with the few greedy “you know who’s” who seem to stop at nothing to make more billions. As quickly as I went down that track I had to come again to the light. I just can’t bear it. I can’t stand inequality, lies, greed, suffering. And its kind of impossible to know whats true and whats not anyhow.
In a way this was part of going on our journey to remove ourselves from a system that is dysfunctional and makes people sick – claiming the opposite. This world is not o.k. while a few people own several hundred billions of dollars, pretending to be philanthropists, while hundreds of children die every day of having no food to eat and half of the human race lives below poverty level and our natural resources are destroyed faster than they can recover. Its just all wrong. I really hope that through this big shift we as a whole will be able to be brave enough to take steps in the right direction, one that serves all living beings on this planet, not just a handful.
I am just reading the book “The Overstory”. Its about deforestation of precious native forests. There is a beautiful researcher in the book who finds out that the trees and plants all communicate with each other, that the ecosystem is a perfectly fine tuned miracle with all the different species working together as a whole (not that this is new information, but how fitting to read this right now). We humans have just forgotten we are part of that system, destroying the very thing that nourishes us. There is no escaping really, even if we are on a boat trying to reduce our footprint, trying to do things differently, trying to have a breather – we are still part of the whole connected to everything around us.
When I was feeling a bit depressed and lost last week I came across this quote and it made me realise that my job is to enjoy every day I have been given, to love, to be truthful, to live according to my values, allow my heart and intuition as much space as my head and to focus on shining my light. So here’s to light and love.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” Martin Luther King Jr.
This is a drawing I did in the last week with no aim and purpose – when I look at it now – its seems it illustrates our complex world and the light at the end of the tunnel.