Mum to four boys Brody, Camden, Parker and Ryke
It’s how this year has been, my writing has taken a back seat. Again. Other things take the front line, little pinky finger walks with my newest walker, three older children going to school full time, Mom duties here and there, a new volunteer opportunity… I’ll stop there, excuses… we all have them, and NO one wants to hear them. Thank you Nick, for the push…
We left last Summer (the Summer of 2017) a week before school got out. Judge me as you will, we pulled the kids out early, 5 days early for Brody and Parker, two weeks for Camden. Their young ages and understanding by teachers for our journey ahead made the decision easy and supported. Plus, it meant more time to get settled into routine, through jet lag and get Brody, our eldest home for his first summer of Baseball Camp in my hometown. Placing him with children he didn’t know, coaches he had never met. Naturally, with his confidence and embarrassment to get rid of me, he took his baseball glove, said goodbye and went on his way. The week was a hit, literally, a home run. (I could keep going… I’ll stop there.)
In total, we spent 9 weeks away from Thailand last summer. My husband came for the end of the trip to join us for the birth of his brother’s son, Finn and for my cousin’s Alex’s wedding in Canada, which extended the trip a bit longer because the older boys were all a part of it. It caused them to miss the first few days of school… but being in the US and so close to the wedding, we decided, this was one wedding over the past few years we might be able to make.
The summer was lovely, as it always is. Full of adventure and visits and arms wrapped around them that adore and miss them and at times, to keep them warm. It’s hard to believe but now, 4 years into living in this extremely hot climate it seems that is all our bodies can tolerate and for the youngest two, Ryker and Camden, this is the only climate they really know… as I sit here now, reflecting on last summer I am headed into the Summer of 2018, packing our suitcases again with long pants, sweatshirts and long sleeved shirts.
“Oh, the places you’ll go! You’ll be on your way up! You’ll be seeing great sights! You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights. You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So… get on your way!”
– Dr Suess
As July turned into August, I was cringing with the thoughts that the goodbye and the back to school would be harder for the kids than the past two summers. We hadn’t ever spent this amount of time at home since we moved, and by “home” I mean our makeshift home while we live in Thailand. As in, my parents home is our base and we touch down throughout the summer at Pete’s Mom’s house an hour away. They have cousins and summer friends that they enjoy and look forward to seeing. They have traditions, and favourite ice cream shops. As each year has come and passed they have grown with that and most of it now, is ingrained in their thoughts, these tiny desires now in their souls.
Sprinkled on top of our goodbyes was a new element into the “Back to School” this year. Camden. Our third son was going to be enrolled with Brody and Parker at Bangkok Patana. This meant only a little change, (as he had been attending a school near our home for the past year and a half) 6am wake up, an early morning bus ride with his brothers and a longer day of school. If there was anyone that can handle it, I knew it would be the one we call “The Mighty One.” (With an earned nickname like that, how could he not?)
Early on in my expat days my friend Elina from Argentina, who has an even longer journey than us, suggested that planning my flight back right up to the day before school helps the children get back onto the time zone and through the jet lag. She shared that the school would be understanding if any of the children were tired during the day. I trusted her and took her advice and since 2014, I learned that she is right, it does help them, in an almost hard to believe sort of way. Until you do it.
The journey back to Bangkok after the wedding in Canada had them arriving the night before the 4th day of the school year. Our 3 flight trip home had us landing at 11am and arriving into our beds at 1am. Pete and I decided if we could actually wake them up at 6am, then we would try to send them into school, but there was no pressure, if it didn’t work, we understood. We were a mess ourselves! Plus we had to think of the newest player in the game, our nearly 4 year old, Camden would be joining the seasoned veterans on what seemed like an impossible task.
After 38 hours of travel, 5 hours of sleep, I crept in their rooms to wake them. One by one by two by three, they woke, went downstairs and ate their breakfast, dressed and with no pre planning by me (shocking I know) I asked if I could take the obligatory first day of school photo. They all, quietly and serenely agreed. Minutes later, the bus arrived and again, one, by two, by three they got on the bus and buckled up. They peered out of the bus with their bright smiles, not tears. They offered me a wave, not a plea to come give one more hug. Then they rode away.
I stood there, blinking back tears, in awe and carrying indescribable amount of pride for them. What courage they have, what support they offer each other, my dearest Camden what strength, what understanding without even speaking they carry within them. The emotions over the past few days, the goodbyes, the see you soon’s the conversations of it’s back to Bangkok now boys, played over in over in my mind.
In reality, they know no different, their lives, almost now, living most of it in Bangkok, most of it arriving at school on the first day back from a trip to the USA. Most of it being tired, yet brave, happy even if they’ve just cried to leave the ones they love the most. This journey abroad continues to make us grow as individuals and as a family. Although the pain of living so far never leaves us and we experience frequent of ups and downs, we have each other and we are capable of doing so much with the bond that has allowed us to create here.