“But what about your kids?”
This is something we heard from many people before leaving Sydney.
“But what about school? How are they going to learn? What did the school say? What about when they get back? You don’t want them to fall behind, how are they going to integrate back into mainstream education?”
We found our decision to pull the kids out of school for 12 months made people quite uncomfortable and we couldn’t understand why. As parents or even human beings it’s easy to get caught up in what “normal” is (what the fuck does normal mean anyway?) or what society is telling us we should be doing. Our middle fingers says a big fat hello to society norms.
Before we started to tell people about what we were doing we had ZERO and I mean ZERO concerns about the kids’ education. Here is the honest truth. All those questions people asked made us start to doubt ourselves. Are we doing the right thing? What if the kids fall behind? How will they make friends? Are we isolating them? We had to remind ourselves no one knows our kids better than anyone else in this world and trust that we are doing the right thing. I think at times we became so out of touch with our kids we relied on others or the system to tell us what was right for them.
We aren’t teachers (far from it). We are both shit at math, my English is shocking and many times Mattaeus has to tell us the meaning of words. So what are we? We are parents who care about our kids. We want our kids to know right from wrong, stand up for what they believe in and most of all be good to people (don’t be a cunt).
When we left our home we got caught up or I should say I got caught up in trying to keep things like school. Wake up, eat breakfast, get changed, do our work books, sight words, write in their notebooks and so on. They were hating it!! The pressure we were putting on them to pretty much “tick the box” was putting too much strain on all of us. Than the light bulb moment happened a few days ago.
We have a whole classroom right out the front door!! I’m sure what that world will teach our kids won’t even compare to what we were trying before. Now before anyone starts to get on their judgey(see shit English, make up our own words lol) high horse about how they need structured education blah blah wank wank. We as parents would never be able to replace what they learn in a classroom BUT its 12 months of their lives where their ears, eyes and hearts will be open to so many learning opportunities that no classroom or teacher could ever provide. Why should education be limited from Monday – Friday 9am-3pm?
This is what a typical “school” week can look like
Language and Culture class
This means walking downstairs to the fruit lady Poh. She greets us with the biggest smile and “Sawasdee Ka” followed by “you boys stay with me?”. We have been buying fruit from Poh for 2 weeks now and she teaches the boys new Thai words and is happy to answer any questions we have about Thai culture. We talk about food, family, education work and more food.
Markus confidence has gone through the roof. He will happily approach people, speak to people in stores and ask for help which never would happen back home!
When we got to Malaysia the boys freaked out about squat toilets, how they work and why on earth there was never any toilet paper (I had to use a pad one time, Mattaeus still thinks its special toilet paper). It was a great little lesson to talk about the bowels, how they work and how our bodies break down and process food.
Man we walk everywhere! We are a family who like to beat the feet so our boys are not short of getting exercise. They have been swimming almost daily and Mattaeus just tried his hand at some Muay Thai. Markus still prefers eating at this stage.
They try new food daily. For those who have been to Thailand you know what I mean when I say food is everywhere. On main roads, alleyways, motorbikes, cars and bicycles. This shit is everywhere. The kids are constantly asking “what’s this? How do they make it? How do you eat it?”. We encourage the boys to smell the food and describe the flavor/taste. The locals are always willing and happy to show them how things are made which is great.
Mattaeus has the blandest palette ever. Meat, eggs and some fruit. Surprisingly this kid has been trying fish, vegetables, tropical fruit and even chili.
Minecraft. Enough said.
In Malaysia they got see a Mosque and also hear the daily prayers being called. In Thailand they get to see Buddhist Monks daily, walking the street, on the bus and when we visit temples. We have also had a chance to talk about Christianity as we have seen a few churches along the way. We want them to know there is more than one way of living.
Are we doing the right thing? Will this have a negative impact on our kids? Maybe, maybe not. The only way for us to find out is to keep doing what we’re doing, keep listening to our kids and hope one day this experience will help them become better human beings. In no way are we perfect parents but I think we are doing all right so far. Let’s see how we go in a few months’ time haha.