The other day, when meeting a new person, she asked essentially what my story was. I gave her the short version of my decision to bring my kids home to New Zealand and she seemed amazed. It’s not the first time I’ve had that reaction. Even I get this was a big move. She, just as others before her have said, “You’re SO brave!” And I thought “Am I brave?” And the answer was a clear and decisive No. Thanks inner voice-you’re a real cheerleader. But it’s true. Coming home to New Zealand with a few frames of reference, a supportive husband, a bank account that could survive without me working while here and an end date is not brave. A big deal yes, but not brave. Certainly, I have jumped out of my comfort zone but it has been a long time since I have encountered a situation that required me to be brave.
My kids, they are truly the brave ones. As I mentioned before, Poppy started school for the first time here in New Zealand. She had been in the country for 6 days and we were walking her into a classroom that she had never visited before with a teacher she had never met. In the States, there are Popsicle play dates on the new school playground with new friends to meet well before the actual first day of school. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Poppy didn’t have this luxury. It was, largely due to circumstance, reminiscent of old school parenting. “There is your new school/new class/new teacher. Have a good day!” Maybe it’s just her, or maybe kids require less hand holding and coddling that we tend to give them. Big smile and she was gone. Brave Poppy.
Two weeks after school started, Tate came home and told me that he had heard some boys talking about Rugby on the playground. He found out they had signed up for a team so he went and asked the teacher who was in charge if he could join in, for a sport that he had no idea how to play. He didn’t need me to hold his hand, he just needed a ride to practice. Two weeks after that, he was in his first rugby tournament. I picked up Mum on the rainiest and windiest day so far and we headed to watch him. I couldn’t find him in the grandstand or on the rugby field. I did find him at the sausage truck shouting his buddy Oran lunch, completely soaked and happy. My son…in New Zealand, playing in a rugby tournament, eating a sausage, wrapped in white bread, 15km from the house I grew up in. Brave Tate.
In the same vein, Emma decided that she was going to join the other Year 6 girls and try out for the Netball team. After being gone for 20 plus years and out of the Netball loop for much longer than that, I completely misinterpreted just what a big deal these trials would be. I predicted low key. It was anything but. I watched Emma walk on to the the netball court armed only with the advice of “You’re not allowed to dribble the ball like basketball.” No Mother of the Year award that day. There was an outside selector brought in to “select”. It was an intimidating scene for sure. I could tell Emma was nervous but she held her own and tried her best. The selector told Emma she did “bloody well” and…what do you know, she made the B team. Regardless of the end result, walking on to that netball court showed guts.
Emma also got the opportunity to join the other kids in the Upper Middle School and go away to camp. As we were walking in to the train station that I had visited at least 5000 times as a kid, it hit me that Emma had no frame of reference to where the train would take her. Usually, when kids go off to camp (with kids they have known for more than a month), they have some idea of where they are going. Emma did not. Nor did she know these kids very well. But as we arrived, she saw one of her new friends who rushed to hug her and she was gone. I, of course, stayed until she boarded the train. She didn’t look back once. She bounded from that train 3 days later dirty, tired and happy. Brave, brave Emma.
My kids have impressed me with how much they have leaped into this experience, clearly determined to make the most of their time here. I also do not kid myself. Had we decided to move here permanently, I know that there would have been many more bumps in the road. I have watched dear friends move to different states and countries, repeatedly assuring their kids and themselves that it was going to be great. But not really knowing if it would be. That is true bravery. My kids are thriving here in my amazing country and they also know that they get to go back to their house/school/life in July. Hopefully, they will have lots of great stories to share with their friends. And I also hope that they return to Nashville a little braver than when they left, with a renewed belief in their abilities to jump headfirst in to the unknown.
Because clearly the voices in my children’s heads are their biggest cheerleaders and forever may that continue.