For some strange reason it brings such comfort to have a schedule that ordens your day, your week, your life. 'Just' being on holiday is nice for a set amount of time, or with a certain purpose.
But just purposelessly 'living' appears to be very uncomfortable. Even 'having the purpose' to learn how to live without purpose is reassuring. As long as there seems to be a purpose. So last
week we started making a schedule.
When we lived in the Netherlands, we had Mifka. Our very sweet, beautiful, not extremely smart, white shepherd. He needed to be taken for a walk regularly. We had a day by day schedule who was
walking Mifka when.
We also had a cleaning roster. Two times a week someone was vacuumcleaning the downstairs area.
The kids had 'week shifts' where they had to put everything on the table for meals and take it al off again after. These things seemed reassuring for them. If something had to be changed; e.g one of them got sick or had an appointment, it would disrupt things. Beer and Mar were reasonably flexible and understanding when the roster changed, Lem had some more trouble with this. It took him some hours of grumbling, anger and sometimes even shouting and slamming doors, to let it go again.
And for us, as parents, it imprinted life with some structure, even if I was unexpectedly gone due to my work, or one of us got sick.
And for some strange reason it also gave life a sense of purpose, of meaning, to have a schedule.
How strange. I cannot explain this.
Last week, when it seemed things were going to take time and we had to 'just' start living here, the schedule actually saved us from oblivion.
Looks reassuring, doesn't it? It almost seems like we have a right to exist. We don't just hang around all day; we are 'doing something'. It's stupid, I know. But it appears to be a fact. For us.
On Sunday the 8th we gathered around the table with the 5 of us. We talked about what we want to achieve here in Ecuador and how can we start giving this some physical shape.
For Mar it has always been very simple; she wants to live in the jungle, all by herself. She has no interest in other people. She has no interest in any profession. She does -however- understand that this could be a temporary longing (due to puberty hormones or something), so she wants to have a highschool diploma just in case.
For this reason I dived into highschool diploma's that are accepted worldwide and found this: the Cambridge IGCSE. Since our children have a background in English schooling, it is logical to pick that up again. English is worldwide also much more easily accepted then Dutch. So I tried to figure out her level, based on age and ordered a few books of the basic subjects (English, Math and Science).
These books came with us to Ecuador.
Lem has the same wish as Mar; he would like to have a certificate of some kind, as a basis for further study or to give his future life some idea of 'normal human existence'.
So starting this homeschooling would give a sense of purpose again. We decided, for now, to start with 3 days in the week from 9 till 11.30 am. We also decided that it would be good to dive into one thing completely for at least 3 weeks and then start on something else for 3 weeks (or more). The first period it would be math. It is a subject I hated in highschool, but my kids don't carry my genes in this. They all love math, just like Eric. And they are good at it too...
Science in this year (level KS3?!) is the base of chemistry, fysics, science and biology in later years.
Because of Lem's erratic background in schooling, we decided he could start at Mar's level and we could always change this on the go.
While we were talking about this, Beer also showed some interest. He decided he would like to 'sit in' and have the freedom to leave when he wanted to. Beer has an internal 'shut down' mode when he feels 'pushed' to do something. When I did homeschooling in New Zealand, Beer was 10 years old. I had to infuse lots of humor and space and had to let go of any 'goal' to be reached at any specific time. Otherwise his shut-down mode would be activated. This has been the case since he was very young and has not yet changed.
The next subject was physical movement. Just sitting and hanging all day was not very healthy. Everyone realized this, but it had not become conscious to us yet how unhappy we felt with the lack of movement until we talked about it.
When we left the Netherlands we had the unrealistic hope that we would instantly find and buy land and start building our house. This would have given us lots of physical exercise without having to think about it. But this was not happening for a while yet.
Of all of us Beer was the only one who had the urge to physically move, when he had been sitting still for some time. He would get up and do some push ups, jump around and walk outside suddenly.
He didn't need any schedule for this.
We talked about all the possible ways to start building some fitness again and who wanted to do what. Eric wanted to swim in the pool. Mar and Beer would join him. His goal was to do this approximately 3 times a week.
Lem wanted to do yoga burn with me ( I have an online yoga program I've been doing since Januari), thereby forcing me to pick this up again.
Mar wanted to do exercises with Beer and Beer proposed immediatly to do this every weekday at 6 pm. Mar agreed. It made her visibly happy to have some order in the chaos again. And Mar LOVES rules. Really, not kidding.
The third subject was Spanish lessons. We had to seriously pick up Spanish again, through our online program. But also we needed to 'add' help from a real-life teacher. We had met a Belgian woman the week before, who told us she gave Spanish lessons. So we decided to make appointments with her, twice a week, to teach us Spanish.
The fourth subject was our so called 'goal' of starting a village (*), building a house, etc.
What we would need for this enterprise was, amongst other things, local contacts. We had made a great start and needed to continue. The kids made it very clear they were not that fond of making
real life contacts. Especially not with kids their age. Adults were mostly fine, but kids their age were usually busy with other things then what would catch their own interest. This is nothing
new; Beer and Lem usually had friends above the age of 20 and Mar usually only got along with women my age.
They agreed, after some negotiation, to go along with the contacts we were making. If it didn't catch their interest we would talk again.
(*) I'll explain my romanticized idea of the concept of a 'village'.
I once heard a story about a village in WW2. There was food shortage and it had been hard to get through the previous winter. Without anyone being 'in charge', the villagers gathered and made a plan on how to get through the next winter. One of the villagers was going to make sure there would be enough potatoes for everyone, the other was going to breed more chickens, etc. They got through the next winter very well and even helped other villages and travelers through this winter.
It is entirely possible I remember this story totally wrong. But this is my idea of the village I would like to be a part of. And I totally 'get' that this concept has been tried and tried again to be created for decades now and has not been succesfull anywhere. Which doesn't stop me from thinking this is possible and that we will manage to be a part of creating this.
So here we were this past week, living by a schedule. And it did make us feel more alive and more in line with whatever it was we are trying to achieve.
The homeschooling in the mornings was challenging, but also very rewarding.
Every night when I looked back at the day, I would have fond memories of the clashes and the discussions about how to solve a mathematical problem and of how seriously we all tried to keep the communication open. It intensified the contact between all of us. Suddenly we were talking -between all of us!- much more and more in depth then usual. For instance: One night Beer and Lem were doing the dishes and had a long and extremely funny conversation about the story of Harry Potter. Told as if the whole story ACTUALLY happened. A little bit stayed in my memory:
Beer; 'Lem, did you know that Voldemort had a child?' Lem; 'Yeah I read that somewhere, but how is this even possible?' Beer; 'Together with Bellatrix...' Lem; " Yeah yeah, I know, but I mean;
how does he even get a stiffy?'
This conversation had many twists and turns and Eric and I secretely enjoyed ourselves sitting in the other room.
Another event was the fitness; Beer was training Mar every night. The talk between them was already funny to listen to, but then Lem joined last night and it became even more hilarious (click here to see movie).
I had a great time doing yoga with Lem; he has no body connection with himself at all even though he is very strong and muscular. So he would try to copy this woman on the video lesson and I just couldn't understand how he translated the movements to his own body. After 25 minutes of helping him out ('why do they call this 'childs-pose'? What child would do this?') and trying to do some moves myself, we were both exhausted and sweating. I realized my fitness was at an extremely low level.
Still there are days and moments where we don't know what the hell we are doing and why, but I have a feeling this is part of the general energy this year. And not only for us.