back to school for an expat mom

back to school crowns

It’s that time. Every year when mothers celebrate back-to-school, so eager to have time again to grocery shop on their own or do a little more of what we get done normally but with the precious silence we crave when children are fighting or tearing through the house wet and muddy. Excited to get back to a routine, we eagerly start back to early bedtimes. We shop up for back to school and begin planning our own fall schedules again.

Truth is this year I am a little less excited. I am feeling cheated out of at least a month of summer vacation. We didn’t get out until July 6. I haven’t had alone days since we arrived in April. I guess I have gotten used to it. One or both children are always with me. Our school schedules are totally different that in the states. BOO and Spartacus come home everyday for lunch. CoCo, well she only had 2 hours of play group on Friday afternoons (after her older brother arrived home for the day). While I crave a little alone time, I have become accustom to always having them with me. I realized now that in a funny way it has  provided me the luxury of relaxing a little. I am able to  keep them more watched over and enjoyed the short summer of sleeping later, traveling more, and the reassurance that my kids are spoiled and safe.

During early days of our relocation here we experienced some bullying almost immediately. It left me feeling very un-easy and guarded. During the summer months however my children have enjoyed my watchful eye and endless entertainment, but Monday it all comes to an end once more. I will send Gabriel off to walk to school by 7:45 am (truth is I am usually just starting to wiggle my toes and blink my eyes open at about this time). When I send him out the door I will pump him up with as much confidence and excitement as I can muster. I will feel worried and guilty after I close the door. I can not help myself, I know it will be difficult. I know he is not going back to school to reunite with old friends and compare stories of summer vacations like he would be if we still lived “back home”. I hope he will not feel too terribly different as he quietly sits in his assigned seat understanding little of what will be said that day, or that month. I pray the children will be kind and remember that he was the 2nd fastest runner in 2nd grade last year, and hope that will help his chances of being respected and winning friends. I hope he will remember these hard days and come to the understanding, someday, that he is better for it. I hope that he will also remember how he feels to be an outsider and that he will always see the child that needs a friend. I hope he will be that friend. I hope he will always have courage to do hard things.

I will make a special dinner on Sunday night, we will sit around and talk about each child’s strengths and talents. We wear crowns and eat on a table cloth. We will also remind them of our families privileges and how we will always stick together. I hope if they feel alone for a few hours during school that they know, once they are back home they are loved and supported and safe. My husband will say a special prayer with each of them. They will be reminded to work hard, have courage, remember who they are. We will act excited and hope for the best.

For the first time ever I might just cry when I send him off to school.

Any of you moms ever feel this way? Remind me what a great experience this is for him again? Tell me what an opportunity it is for our family? Remind me not to feel guilty for making him do hard things.