Here and There
Tuesday was a really hard day. We haven’t had a break in a while, and I was itching to escape. I booked a night away at the weekend, but it has been a relentless run of a couple of months without stopping, and one night away seems like too little, too late.
After another draining day at work, I collected the kids from school, and got ready to head back out- Tuesday evening was the back-to-school open evening for parents at Pudding’s school. No time for dinner.
To say I didn’t feel like going out there would be understatement. The school is a 45 minute drive at the best of times, and after dark in Johannesburg? Not so much the best of times. I try my best to avoid ever driving alone at night. But Spectrummy Daddy was staying with the kids, and I felt like I couldn’t not go.
Traffic was even worse than usual. I left at 5:10 to be there in plenty of time for a 6:30 start, but I soon realized it wasn’t going to be enough. All in all, seven (7!) traffic lights were out on the busy route, and not one of them policed. I turned on the radio only to hear that the alternative route by motorway was in the same condition. As day turned to night, and gridlocked in traffic, I felt a growing sense of unease. My frustrations darkened my mood further, and I let myself go…there.
There is where I imagine an easier life. Where we live close to family and friends, and I can count on them to give us a break when we need one. There is my kids going to a local school and growing up with the same community. There is building a life for us, and living it- not having to do the same thing over, and over, in far away lands. There is easy. Here is hard.
My legs were cramping from riding the clutch for so long that I almost missed driving an automatic. I did my best to avert my curious gaze from the casual prostitution happening at a particular traffic light where I idled for too long. I wanted to call my husband and tell him I was done with here, with this whole Foreign Service life, but I know better than to use a Smartphone here while driving alone in the dark.
Finally, finally, at just after 7 pm, I arrived at the school.
The Director saw me first, and gave me a friendly greeting on first name terms. Next I saw the mother of a child who was in Pudding’s class last year. We hugged, and I started to feel better. Next I got to check out her new classroom, where she’d left me a note asking to check out her “portit.”
I left her a note in return, then got to check out her new classroom, taking note of the many accommodations. As Ms. A, her new teacher had previously let me know- these supports are actually beneficial for all kids, and having them available to all ensured that Pudding isn’t singled out. I felt all my tensions slip away. My girl, she is right where she needs to be.
Next I got to meet Pudding’s art, music, and PE teachers. I had to smile as the new teachers shifted from polite interest to excitement as they found out I was Pudding’s mother. That kid really is a rock star, and I loved hearing all the anecdotes: such as Pudding turning on the music in class- the music teacher convinced it only happens when she talks for too long! Yes, that absolutely sounds like her.
Though it was getting late after a long day, I couldn’t resist popping in to see Pudding’s kindergarten teacher, who was in the middle of reassuring a new parent that her child (who had some differences of their own, but not like Pudding’s) was in the right place.
I couldn’t agree more.
The drive home was just about the complete opposite- I practically flew. What was I even thinking on the ride out there? Of course this isn’t easy, but she is where she belongs, and when we move again, we’ll start up a whole new village.
Here or there, it doesn’t matter. We are always right where we need to be.