I haven’t written a huge amount recently about the differences between London and LA because the truth is, once you start living your life somewhere you do just that, live it. And so life becomes less about comparisons and more about daily rituals. This is a valuable lesson for anyone thinking about moving and having anxiety or fear attached to that choice. Once you go, you will most certainly find your mind occupied with your home, schools and friends for you and your kids, your local shops and lifestyle…it’s life as you know it now, but happening there.
I rely forever on the concept of the here and now. I was asked last night what I have learned by this crazy life we live in two countries. In two words; Being Present. You can change one’s surroundings many times, but what needs to be constant is how you live your life, not where. Being in the moment – planning without wasting time waiting for it all to happen, acknowledging how hard it is sometimes and accepting it without letting it destroy too much. These realities have become a source of enlightenment for me and often take me from the darkness into the light.
At the risk of sounding like a spiritual healer or a drunken yogi, I will shift to what I thought was indeed a funny week in the world of Back To School Nights. For a start, I had three to go to. I gave Husband the out not to attend, and he took it. My fault, really. I was in all honesty frightened of what we wouldn’t hear, again, in terms of their curriculum, and of the issues that were talked about, the love of the child and the care of their emotional lives, I wanted the space to bask in the glory of choosing these feel good, progressive schools without the voice of doom in my ear. I made a mistake, however. Three times. Each evening had more dads present than ever before and each event held moments of feeling great about spending so much money on one’s child’s educations, which is something every parent of the independent school system desperately needs!
Seriously. My eldest sons teachers at The Willows Community School rallied the parent body with such enthusiasm and energy for the subjects they teach that they have myself reading To Kill A Mockingbird for the third time. In the same school, I went to the Lower School night – on a different night, of course – where the Head spoke to us on stage with such eloquence, inspiration (the word of the school this year) and education that I would have voted for her for president by the end. When she was finished explaining why we should let our children be uncomfortable, let them figure out how that feels and what to do about it themselves, and went on to show how the ethos of the school is to help create thinking, curious, intelligent and successful children, all moms and dads kept nodding to each other as if to say ‘yes, we are all amazing for choosing this incredible school’. We were putty in her efficient hands. She did then, on cue, talk about the Annual Giving Fund. I had to laugh.
Then my final night was at New Roads school where we have moved to their bigger campus and are now at their middle school. My son had sufficient achievement at their lower school, but to say we were less than excited about their curriculum was an understatement. Thus having Husband stay behind babysitting was more about taking cautious measures in order to decipher just how disappointing the new school is going to be. I know that sounds ludicrous, especially because we are paying for it, but my son got his mojo back with this school and for that, we are willing to roll dice and stay in this school’s game, rather than call craps.
Well, let me just say I spent four hours, yes FOUR hours being tutored in their unique interactive computer program called the Learning Tool and listening to each of his teachers dissect their subjects with focus and innovation. Even the PE teacher had me doing TRX exercises from hanging equipment. Be all you can be, and then some seems to be their motto. I was exhausted by the end and well educated in what is actually at their fingertips at each of these schools. Gone are the days of libraries and letters to the teacher, now it’s international, interactive resources in 3D and a ‘Dear Teacher’ chat box online, in real time.
I can only imagine what a teacher at my boys prep school in London would think if my son wrote to him and said, ‘Hey, Tom, don’t understand question 2, can you explain again? PS I’ll play you at ping pong at break time tomorrow.’