Moving to the city

Finally, we are moving again. This time to a city with lots of hippies and people into alternative lifestyles. It is also very multicultural (even more so than the metropolis we lived in before, but not as multicultural as say, London). But I think I’ll like it a bit more. There are more home education events going on there. More kids after-school clubs and things. Not that I would necessarily join home education events as I found from experience that home ed groups can be quite cliquey and its members difficult to befriend. English people are, in general, more difficult to befriend than Americans, Italians or Spaniards anyway, and this is something I’ve known ever since I started living in the UK more than a decade ago. That’s not a big problem if we live in a place with a load of different activities for the kids to go to and a very diverse population. In my experience, I find foreigners are more friendly and ready to befriend us than the more reserved locals. After all, foreigners “club together” right? That is not to say we have never managed to befriend locals. Before we became parents, we were quite the partygoers. Our partying lifestyle had enabled us to befriend a lot of English people, but we drank, smoked, went clubbing a lot. You have to have something in common to befriend people, I guess, and back then it was a love of trance music and dancing that helped us click with others. After we had kids and decided to forgo that kind of lifestyle, I have found it a lot more difficult to make friends with locals. That’s a choice I made and I don’t regret it! But it has to be said that without alcohol to loosen up inhibitions, most English locals are very reserved and not very easy to befriend at all.

I am a bit sad to leave my current place. The people are nice… but the longer I live here, the more I realise that they can be kind of nosy. They really do ask a lot of personal questions. I understand perhaps this is just the way village folk are. But recently my eldest and my youngest told me that every week when they attend their Boys’ and Girls’ Brigade clubs, they get asked by the staff “what did they do in their homeschool today?” … My boy told me a lady there even asked him if he “learnt Maths at home”. That is like… so odd to ask. I mean, my boy is really good with Math. Haha… From my earliest posts I mentioned how he had a natural talent for numbers since he was 4. But the lady did not actually quiz him on his knowledge. Well he’s only 6, but since she is a teacher at a school, I’m sure she could easily come up with some Math questions to test him, and I have no worries about him being able to answer them. But this is not about whether he could answer any Math questions his Boys Brigade leader wants to ask of him though…

The point is that I find our family is under a little scrutiny in this village for home educating our children. While no one in this village has been rude to us in our face about the home education, the general consensus around here is very obvious – all kids go to school. No one else in this village home educates, and no one really understands why anyone would. Although no one has pressured me to send my kids to school here, I do get a lot of people asking me why I chose to home educate, what curriculum do I use, etc. For the benefit of doubt, I accept that they are just asking out of curiosity, because home education is so unheard of in these parts. It still doesn’t make me feel very comfortable living here though. Obviously me and my kids are like the odd ones out. When my neighbours’ kids have parties, they invite each other, but we are not invited. When we lived in cities, this was never a problem – neighbours who hardly knew us would invite us to their home just to get to know us, especially the foreigners. And the British ones used to always invite us to their kids’ birthday parties in the communal gardens when we used to live in a flat if they hadn’t had a chance to get to know us. But the people here are… well… I guess maybe they don’t feel comfortable knowing us because we seem strange to them, not only because we are not local, but also because we home educate!

The people who are nice to us here are from church, and they really are lovely people, but a bit nosy, like I said, and in general not only do my kids stick out because they are mixed race, look part Asian (there are no Asians around here apart from me), but the fact that we home educate and that my kids are not interested in football. One Direction, and some other “mainstream” stuff makes us really really … odd to them? I don’t know. I just feel at the end of the day, we’d be better off living somewhere else, even though life here is peaceful – at least superficially so.  And that’s kind of … what living in a village is like I guess. I’ve never tried living in a village before, but now I know what it can be like.

But I’m not complaining. The place is so quiet and peaceful. It is tranquil, and I don’t worry about crime here. People are generally in a good mood here, presumably because the pace of life here is slower. I wish I could live in a place like this but with the convenience of city life. I feel really isolated here and don’t feel like I can provide my children with the best home education possible… all because I don’t drive and can’t afford a car of my own even if I did drive anyway. My kids have been attending the local church’s Sunday school and Boys’ and Girls’ Brigade groups so far, but nothing else on offer around here really interests them. I mean, there isn’t much on offer around here. Just a football club and a karate club. That’s it. Nothing for a good 10 miles or more. My kids don’t like football or karate. Especially my son, who is the most atypical boy here with his lack of enthusiasm for ball games (e.g. football). He actually told us to purposely bring him to Boys’ Brigade “late” so that he can miss the first part of it – the part when the boys play football. It’s not like the boys there were mean to him, because they aren’t. They are some of the kindest children I’ve met (and I’ve met some mean ones in the cities really). My son says they even tell each other to “give him a kick of the ball because he hasn’t had a chance to have a kick of the ball the whole time they were playing football”. Then my son tells me “But Mummy, I don’t even care about kicking that football. I don’t even care if they never gave me a kick of the ball. I hate football!” So there you have it. My son really doesn’t like football.

Since we’ve been here, the thought of enrolling them back into school has crept up on me quite a few times, simply because school would be able to offer a bit more variety than what I can provide for my kids here. School can take the kids on school trips elsewhere, which I cannot by myself since I don’t drive. Schools can provide the extra socialisation that I cannot, simply because I can’t drive my kids to various home ed meetups and interesting after-school activities in the nearest big town. I felt bad that my kids no longer have nice fantastic parks with duck ponds and boating lakes, free museums, fantastic range of clubs, orchestras, plays, etc. right on their “doorstep” like they used to in the city.. I felt bad I could not take them to places for day trips simply because I don’t drive and there are no buses here that serve most areas – buses only go to two small towns in each direction, and takes an hour to reach each town. My kids have grown bored… so bored, since they came here, although they still would rather home ed than go to school – their explanation being that they have more free time to pursue their interests when they are home ed whereas school’s 6 hours daily of “boredom” is too much. Believe me, I have asked them if they would rather go to school here since it’s so boring for them, but each time they said no.

I’ll be honest. My kids aren’t naturally very sociable people. They don’t feel lonely easily. They are pretty happy by themselves engrossed in whatever interests them. They are very musical. Oh yes, that’s another thing that my daughter misses. Her violin lessons. Over here in the sticks, there is like 1 violin teacher in the whole 20 miles of expanse… and it was difficult to find her. We only found her 2 weeks ago. But then a week after that, we went to view a house in the new city and we were impressed. We wanted to take the house straight away. Neighbourhood seems good. More up our street. So close to the city centre. Well-connected by buses and trains. Perfect for a non-driver like me. Very diverse city. Good schools if we wanted to enrol our kids in school. The college in the city also accepts home educated kids for exams – what I intend to do if my kids don’t go to school is to send them to college.

So I will miss the people in this little village. But I sure won’t miss my loss of freedom here. I will look back with fond memories and think… if I could drive, and if we could afford 2 cars in our family, then I would consider coming back to this village to live again, because it is a nice place to live in, if you could drive. And if I could drive, I’d be like… sod what people here think of my choice to home educate. If people don’t like us, that’s okay. We can still drive to towns x, y and z to socialise in home ed groups, bigger range of after-school clubs and classes, etc.. But right now, this option doesn’t exist because I don’t drive and don’t own a car of my own.

And so… I look forward to moving to our new house with enthusiasm. A new life, ahead of us.

Who knows what that will bring?


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