Should I dare say it out loud? I think the boys are content in Phuket

If I am honest, in hindsight, I would say the first three months in Phuket were completely shit. We turned up exhausted (like we’ve never known), and apart from Freddy (the dog) being ecstatic, it was a pretty sombre affair.

Lunch with Mum on Naithon Beach

Even Riddick, the cat, seemed uncomfortable and unhappy in her new home. To this day, our scaredy cat is tentative about leaving the house! On the other hand, Xena, the Ragdoll, gives about as many fucks with all of this as she does with everything else in life. ZERO!

The first three months involved lots of running around. Getting lost. Working out where to buy things. Working out what could no longer be bought. Fighting off the hordes of during the Christmas/NY frenzy!! Setting up bank accounts, phones, etc… when you don’t speak the local language. Dealing with immigration and visas. The boys adjusting to new schools. Jax missing his BFF. Steve and I travelling. Steve away for a MONTH before Christmas. Many many problems with the house that took AGES to get fixed. Adjusting to new levels of patience. Etc, etc, etc.

It was intense!

On top of that, the boys didn’t have an easy adjustment phase. Jax definitely struggled in such a vastly new environment, but Lex had a shocking time.

For Lex, it’s been a combination of newness, testosterone surges and complete brain exhaustion - because Arrowsmith is HARD! All of this meant he didn’t get off to the best start at school! Oh man, that added some anxiety for Steve and I, let me tell you.

The incredible Aunty Vick on her birthday. Jax is almost taller! 
We had a crescendo with Lex too, where he finally hit his limit, and that resulted in the biggest meltdown of all meltdowns just before Christmas. My heart broke for my little man then, but it also felt like he finally got all of the anxiety and stress out of his system. We all know how good that can feel...

Raising kids is such a journey of highs and lows! Sometimes highs and lows reach the extreme edges, and we hit the stratosphere of lows with this meltdown. But, no matter what, we’ll always do what we can for Lexy, even if it’s only giving him more cuddles when he needs them – something I adopted in the lead up to, and following, the crash. It was that or releasing my growing frustrations – which wouldn’t help anyone, especially him.

But the meltdown helped him to decompress and then over the Christmas break, we had lots of visitors. For the boys, the most important visitors were their cousins from Australia.

They ADORE their big girl cousins Hetty and Elspeth. Completely and utterly adore. Not to forget Uncle Jimbo, Aunty Floppy and Atticus of course. This was an important visit for all of us, but we think having family visit helped calm them down and adjust.

I believe the opportunity to see their new home through the eyes of people they love, helped them realize they could be happy here. So THANK YOU guys for coming! We still wish it was longer. Let’s book the next one in?

New year, new attitudes

And here we are, well into 2018 , which has seen a smooth start (with only a few rough moments) and the boys feel happy. Content. Sleeping well. Embracing life. It’s good. It feels like we made the right decision at last. Steve and I also had a bit of time alone together too. That helped us, because we’re all working this stuff out.

But it’s not just Lex who we believe is benefitting. It’s also an excellent environment for Jax.

For the last couple of years, we’ve felt his school experience in Singapore wasn’t working for him. From the bus ride in the morning to getting home from school, I always felt he braced himself to face his days. He loved it and never complained, but I watched him putting layers on his onion (aka Donkey and Shrek) or his armour to protect himself from the world. As a parent, I was definitely concerned those layers were becoming permanent and rigid.

In position for the CNY Lion Dance with fresh Mohawks
And yet in Phuket, in a gentle environment, where mindfulness, civic duty, diversity, kindness, respect, and all of the values we hold dear, are celebrated at school, I am happy to report that I’m watching the layers come off.

Jax is becoming a kinder, more vulnerable and loving version of himself. I have to say that UWC Thailand is definitely a gorgeous environment, and because it’s smaller than before, I think this is a massive benefit for him. He’s not lost anymore.

Less kids seem to band together more and there are less factions. The girls also want to play with the boys too – something Jax suffered when the girls disengaged from the boys a few years ago. Apparently a very normal developmental thing for young girls, but not something Jax appreciated. He LOVES girls.

With that said, no girlfriends for the Jaxster yet and no besties either, but I think both boys are finally happy.

Don’t get me wrong, they complain as much as ever, but there are some noticeable changes. They both have less night terrors, they cuddle and kiss us more, they tell us they love us every day AND the night lights are off in their room – just that was a wow moment for me! Equally, step by step, they’re demanding more independence (although regularly screwing that up) and I believe are finally growing into the beautiful young men we know they’re capable of becoming.

Steve and I are still trying to work out how to live and continue our work, plus find time together. We know we’ll need to spend a lot of time apart from each other to do this, because we’ve agreed one of us always needs to be here for the boys when the other is travelling. That’s our deal for now to make sure the boys are ok.

Friday walk on the beach with Freddy! 

But knowing the boys are happy and enjoying life? Yes, we can do anything if that is the case. For us it’s really the only thing that matters.

Obviously, the cycle of life will continue. It’ll be shit sometimes and glorious the next, but now in our fourth, almost fifth month in Phuket, we reckon this is a good place for the family to be right now.

Anyone else relate from a transitioning the family perspective?

Yours, without the bollocks
Andrea


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