My cousin in New York emailed me a letter dissecting my blog which I truly appreciate since it gives me extra writing prompts. Plus I’m grateful anyone is even reading my blog, in this case thoroughly enough to comment with cross references. Sometimes, all I wish for is a sounding board and somebody to listen to my senseless ramblings.
Since she’s a painter, my cousin and I share a common understanding of the creative process. She wrote: “If as you say in your blog, dated July 13, 2016, entitled “My Ex-Boyfriend. . .,” Architecture is your ex-boyfriend, I would say, writing is your current life companion, your chosen vehicle to communicate your inner life.”
My cousin also experiences getting lost in the act of riding the flow, forgetting other things that may need to take precedence. “Rather, the sheer volume may overwhelm you and cause you to forget your priorities and become lost in the current project.” Sometimes I have to reign myself in from over-planning and over-blogging about this dream because the most important “project” at hand is my responsibility towards my children.
On other points, however, my cousin and I may differ. She wrote, “You mentioned that you would love to start an alternative type of school. That you miss the parents’ network, so strong in the Philippines. I don’t see how you can fulfill your dreams in China, which is also a place where your children may not have a future without the formal Chinese education that you are rejecting. But I don’t think they face the uphill battle at home that you face.”
There will always be conflicts wherever we choose to live but at this point in our lives, there will be bigger frays in the Philippines that we would more likely lose and that I prefer not to fight. It is still better, for now, to make China our home base, unless of course China goes to war against the Philippines and America, then we may be forced to rethink things.
Just yesterday, I met up with my friend, Grace, a homeschooling Chinese mom with five children and Karen, our new-found American friend who homeschooled her three sons in China. Karen introduced us to their community of homeschooling families from different countries. The network of parents here may not be as big as the network in Manila but it exists and is thriving. They are convinced I will find such communities in Dali, Yunnan. It’s a matter of being resourceful and taking initiative to connect with them.
The graduates at Karen’s homeschooling group have all been accepted by US colleges. “In fact one young man got into Harvard, Yale and Stanford, but chose to go to Notre Dame with a full scholarship,” Karen explained, “But parents need to be highly dedicated, and you need to honestly evaluate each year whether or not this is working out well for your family.”
Tomorrow, I fly to Taiwan with my two Chinese friends to attend the Asia Pacific Democratic Education Conference. One of the speakers is psychologist, Peter Gray, author of “Free to Learn.” I emailed him my PhD proposal and he replied by telling me about the conference. Joining me are two fellow university teachers, Donna and Lucy.
Donna lectures on psychology and is very much into Rudolph Steiner’s philosophy, sending her daughter to try Waldorf schools in Auckland and Manila during summer holidays. Lucy finished a PhD in Literature and plans to pursue a second PhD in Education. All three of us are participating in the conference less for career development and more for our children. We want to be better educators for them.
I do not know if this will alleviate my mom’s worries but I have tried and tested out Skype tutors for English from America and the Philippines and Mandarin Skype tutors from mainland China. I hope that in September, when we’re back in Manila, I can convince my mom to meet with two moms who homeschool their daughters. I know she doesn’t have time for the homeschooling orientation at TMA but perhaps a meeting with my fellow CCF homeschoolers might lessen her understandable apprehension about what we are doing.
The last point my cousin proposes is similar to my sister-in-law’s concept to leave Joshua with her for a year so that he can start primary school while we travel around the world. My cousin broaches that we can entrust Joshua with my mom in Manila so he can enroll in one of the best schools there. I appreciate these suggestions which only highlight people’s deep love and concern for our children, however, I think our children will suffer more if separated from us. We work as a family unit and any idea to break us apart will not be welcomed.
When I wrote the blog entry, The Question of Play mentioning my sister-in-law’s proposition, I received one touching message from a friend I haven’t seen since our university days. A mother herself, she wrote, “Your Joshua will have more emotional issues if he is left behind by the family. Go and be together! Also check out Waldorf School. Might just be your answer later on AFTER your year-long trip! Enjoy the best years of your kids’ life together!”
I know I face uphill battles but that would be true should I decide otherwise. There are no easy decisions. Challenges pounce from every corner but I believe I’m on the side I ought to be. I lose my footing sometimes but who doesn’t.
The pictures were taken at Karen’s place. It’s Jimmy with Grace’s four children romping around the garden. Grace’s youngest is with her parents in her hometown. Karen’s two elder sons are studying engineering in the U.S. and her youngest son is working as volunteer in Africa this summer. Karen’s three sons have all been homeschooled by her in China.