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Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States

Sep 6, 2010


I have had at least one kid home with me everyday since September 29 2003.
This year we decided to send the kids to an International School here in Tai Po called
NIS. It stands for Norwegian International School.
There are various reasons I am not home schooling anymore. I enjoy choosing what the kids are taught, I love being right there when they learn something new and the flexibility it provides.

I might one day do it again, but I know for now this is the right decision.

7:45 we get on our estate shuttle bus and drive 4 minutes to MTR. We take the train one stop to Tai Po Market, walk about 12 minutes to Elliot's campus. 8:30 Jane gets on a school bus that takes her across town to the primary campus.

The Kindergarten campus sits on top of a good size hill and is called the Bungalow. It was built before WWII and has belonged to various people and used for military purposes at one point. The cannon seen in the photograph is a real one.

These first days of school in Hong Kong does not allow for sweaters and new warm leggings to be worn. Temps are still in the high 80's early 90's and extremely humid. I have found myself ready for the A/C and a nap, by the time I get to the top of the hill at the Bungalow.

The First Day
Jane's campus is just across the bridge behind our place, so we walked that first morning. On the way, we saw a girl we met the day before at registration who was in Jane's class. 
 In order to get Elliot to his school on time, I had to leave Jane almost immediately, I was worried she might not want me to go so soon, but when she saw her new friends were playing on the soccer field she gave me a quick kiss on the cheek and ran off.

We arrive at Elliot's campus.
8:45 the teacher rings a hand held bell and children began lining up ready to go inside. Elliot had this dazed look about him as he was being herded and told where to go. I follow the kids inside, helping brother get his shoes off and slippers on, they don't wear their outside shoes at the Bungalow. Kids are putting backpacks away, taking out lunches, a lot of commotion is going on and the teacher gets the kids into the classroom and closes the door.
When I had said goodbye, I was unsure Elliot heard me as he didn't reply. Now I am faced with the situation did he really understand I was leaving? Should I go into the classroom so I can give him a hug and kiss?
I took into consideration he is 5 not 2 and decided entering the classroom would be more disruptive then helpful.  Then I left. At first I was a little sad thinking my children could have made some fuss about me going, but over all my kids being content and not sad, kept my emotions even.

The crying that happened that day was when I picked Elliot up early, so we could get Jane. He was upset he had to leave before it was time to go because he wanted to play with a toy.

My First day of school experience
I felt dazed. I imagine I must have had a similar expression on my face as Elliot did that morning. Here I was among these crowds going along, shops and street markets not really sure what to do.
The kids got placed in a structured day, being told where to go, when to eat, time to clean up. I felt I now needed someone to tell me what to do. OK Sarah time to clean, stop and go get lunch, now you need to grocery shop etc.
My 9-5 day for 7 years revolved around creating structure, and education for someone else, and I found myself at a loss where to begin this for myself.

Observations and reflections of a day without kids
No more McDonalds- I can eat spicy ramen, sushi, kimchi and rice for lunch. I can also choose to eat lunch at 11 or 2pm.
Sounds of Silence
Even when kids are in the house sleeping, you know they are there. It is a different quiet from an empty house.
I go back to the flat and sometimes I listen to an audio drama, or a radio program, and sometimes I choose to have no background noise and enjoy the silence.
Did I forget something?
In HK we travel by foot, bus or train, as a result I am in a habit of taking a hand, always looking back, and being aware in general of the kids location. Their absence from my day to day is new to me, but my mother instincts are still heightened.
I go to grab to a hand that is not there, or look back and no kid
The funniest one to me is when I panic for a second after hopping off the train- thinking I left one of them behind.
I know this feeling will go away soon.

It is a new journey, a process and I will have to ease myself into a week that I can call fruitful and meaningful.

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