Never have I ever thought I would be living in a Boarding House in England and working as a House Parent. Never having ever experienced or really thought that much about boarding and the lifestyle surrounding it - how could it have been on my radar?
Preconceived assumptions of the kind of students that attend boarding school come from films and television*. The majority of which showing Boarding School used as either a punishment or a coming of age hormone fuelled ''awakening''.
Except for the Harry Potter series. So I prepared by putting myself in the mind-set of Hogwarts' House Parents/Masters/Mistresses. I was going to hone my Professor McGonagall and maintain a strict but endearing personality with the boarders.
And then I realised our House is more looks more Slytherin than Gryffindor (Even our school colours and Coat of Arms). And going by all the rules I am slapping up on the walls, I am more Dolores Umbridge.
I know. It surprised me too.
Never have I ever thought I would be looking after a handful of international student let alone teenagers. Have I always wanted to adopt an older child? Yes. This is far from that. Did I ever consider fostering? Yes. Did I ever consider multiple teenagers at once? No.
I figured there would be some hiccups in the beginning as we were setting up for the new school year. No worries, as I had my trusty HP characters to fall back on. Yet again, I hiked up my bra and put on my Molly Weasley cap. Rules because we care.
And then I realised that teenagers do not consider why there are rules but instead sulk when you try to enforce them. That they are stuck in this weird limbo of a vast stretching future of independence creeping into their sight of vision but they can't call their GP to make themselves an appointment. They hate when you repeat yourself as that is nagging but then they turn around and do exactly what she just said not to do while arguing with you how ''they did not know''.
We recently rewatched the Harry Potter films, shock! You had know idea, right?
I now feel for the Professors and Heads of House. I want to shove away the HP storyline and delve into how Minerva McGonagall came to her position. What Severus Snape says in the staff room after receiving another eye roll from the HP Gang.
*Of which I have seen or read, not assumptions including everything from all time. Doi.
Sun’s out, fun’s out!* Is that a saying? It must be the sunny weather or that Peaches is now a toddler, but we are having better social luck at the playground and library. More conversations and interactions make both Mama and Kiddo happy!
I still get into this hermit mode of “hissss, leave me alone with my angsty thoughts” - don’t get me wrong. But I am really enjoying the parent conversations at the moment. No longer is anyone asking me if I do this or that for my baby, if I work or why I haven't returned to work.
Finally people are owning up to not knowing what hell they are doing, how exhausted they are and tips on kid friendly places to go. For first time parents the veil of “things are going to get easier” finally is lifting. We all realise, what second+ time parents already knew, that the parenting does not get easier. Nope. It just changes a little with each step in the child’s development.
So we gather with our wee ones in the communal spaces of libraries and playgrounds. For the bleary eyed parents these spaces have become a safe place to share the ups, downs and struggles of parenting. Kind of like a confessional but for dishing out embarrassing moments about themselves, their partners or their offspring.
Here are some anonymous examples:
“We were staying with my partner’s mother after the birth of our child. One morning during a feed a packaged arrived. As everyone was out of the house, I quickly buttoned up my nightgown and answered the door. To my horror the door slammed behind me. I had no keys, no phone, knew no one and had no idea how long his mother would be out. Somehow the police arrived and I was able to direct them how to get to my partner’s sibling - who had spare keys. After 25 minutes (which felt like hours) I was back inside the house to find my five week old babe still asleep safely in her cot.”
“My elder child was born with a heart condition. My younger child was born with a hole in their belly. I have recently been focusing on my younger child after their latest surgery. I am very afraid that in giving the younger one so much attention, I will miss something in my elder child that could be fatal.”
“We were at the mall during a prime holiday shopping day, took my young child into the toilets with me when they loudly asked me ‘mummy, what’s that hairy thing?’. Needless to say, you could hear the echoing snickers down the adjoining cubicles.”
We all have fear.
We all have shame.
We all have earth shattering love for our children.
These things never change.
But talking to others about the crazy journey eases our troubles.
If even just oh so briefly.
*I started writing this during a string of good weather, but am very aware while posting this it has been raining for days. England! You trickster, you!!
Over the years hubs and I have discussed the possibility of downsizing our humble abode. Whether through buying a small house, living in a caravan, renovating an old bus or building from recycled dumpsters. Were they were just passing fancies of wannabe hippies? Very possible, as we ended up moving into larger accommodation.
Upon entering our apartment, you will find yourself knee deep (and shoulder high) into an echo chamber of boxes. We are in the midst of a massive downsizing. Why? Because we are kooky and it is how we get our kicks?
Next month we are moving from our roomy 2 bedroom flat into, drum roll please : a studio apartment. Hooray!! *Gulp, gulp, panic-panic-panic, it will be fine, gulp, barf, freaking out, deep breaths, I am so zen, oh no, poo.* Wait, that’s not all - a bedsit located inside a school!
The husband and I are taking up a joint position as House Parents to Sixth Form boarders, as if parenting a 20 month old was not hard enough! *Nervous laughter*
For reals, we are just excited/nervous about this new adventure. It is going to be a MASSIVE, let me rephrase that, I MAHOOSIVE change. What is life without change, hey?
The difficult task at hand is the weeding out of possessions.
How to decide what goes and stays? To be honest I did not realise just how much stuff we even had until now. Originals, back ups, and variety of colours of clothing, linen, kitchenware, toys and more.
So the new rule is - no more back ups. 1 of whatever it may be, when it is dirty, we wash it and reuse right away. Beloved items are being boxed up and put into storage as it is going to be difficult to keep little destructo from getting into things. The same with our library. Everything will have a specific place or it has got to go!
Whew! Sweating just thinking about it all. Oh, and here comes the melancholy that shows up with every move.
I am fine.
Let’s have some fun with it..
Not an instructional blog but the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth - so help me Mom.