Sunday, March 25, 2012

Random acts of kindness

To say I've had a tumultuous month would be an understatement. My house renovation bills are escalating. I received a not so nice letter from the IRS. I am trying to organize pack outs, school enrollments with 3 different school curricula for 2 kids and generally feeling a bit overwhelmed. To top it off, the final payment for the house we sold a year ago, didn't come and doesn't seem likely to come for quite some time. Since it's not really my nature to sit around and feel sorry for myself, I just keep trudging along doing what I need to do to get things done. However, there wasn't a lot of joy running through my veins this morning when I hung up the phone with the people who aren't paying us.

Just then Ewan walked through the front door carrying a package. He spent the night at one of his friends' house. Daniel is a nice kid and his parents seemed pretty cool when we spent a few minutes chatting with them yesterday afternoon. They are actually from Malaysia, but have been in New Zealand for over 20 years. We spoke about our kids, the advantages of living in New Zealand as opposed to Malaysia and we tried to explain our crazy lifestyle to them. We laughed about the idiotic price of seafood in this country since everybody seems to be able to just walk over to the waterfront and pluck it out for free except us!

I was particularly animated about my outrage at the price of lobster. I mean really, it is shameful what they charge for lobster here. They explained that they charge so much locally because they get so much more for it when it is exported. Well that doesn't remedy the fact that I really like lobster on special occasions. But I refuse to pay $85 dollars for one. We giggled, exchanged pleasantries and said goodbye wishing that we had met them sooner because they seemed like really nice people.

So, back to Ewan and that mysterious package. You guessed it, it contained a fresh New Zealand lobster. I was gobsmacked. In that one instant two virtual strangers turned my ridiculously dismal morning into a bright shining moment that will be one of my best memories of New Zealand.

  Thank you Jeffrey and Evelyn. You'll do.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

No, of course I'm not mad at you. Whatever.

 So I had to take Ewan to the doctor this morning. Yes, that doctor who wouldn't give me anti freak out medication after the earthquake. He's really a great doctor when it comes to determining what is wrong with you and he is very thorough. He explains everything and makes sure you leave with a clear understanding of what is wrong with you. I actually believe that he is one of the best doctors that I've been to.

This morning, after he diagnosed my son and prescribed physical therapy and a few blood tests he asked me if I was mad at him over the way he dealt with me after the earthquake. I thought about it and really wanted to say yes, I was a bit mad, but it has been a year. I am fine now and probably won't ever see him again so, I said no. I told him I wasn't mad, my ideas just differed from his. I am not a doctor but I am a grown up and I know my own body. I knew I needed more help than he was giving me but I was in a country where toughing it out is a badge of honor. How could I admit that I wasn't as strong? I wanted to be strong and prove that Americans are just as tough as Kiwis. We are brave and resourceful, we don't need drugs or therapy, we won our independence didn't we? I am a warrior.

He seemed relieved and asked me if I didn't feel better knowing I was able to heal myself without the aid of drugs? Actually, no. I didn't feel better doing it myself. It reminded me of when I lived in South Dakota and was in the process of giving birth to Ewan. My doctor and I discussed the pain relief options and I wanted an epidural. But, on delivery day she was trying to convince me that I didn't need it. I could do it naturally. Women have been having babies since the dawn of time without medication. I thought she was insane. I stood my ground and asked for the epidural. After 16 hours of labor, I was glad I insisted. What is this ridiculous need for people to show how tough they are?

So, no. I take it back. I was a bit mad and I am disappointed in myself for letting someone else dictate how I am supposed to feel instead of standing up for myself and demanding to be heard. Yes, I am proud of myself for being strong and making it through a tough situation but I regret that I was made to feel that asking for help was somehow wrong. I usually do a better job of standing up for myself.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

American kids with a bit of Kiwi

  I have American kids. I am very proud of my family's history and though our geneaology before hitting America in the 1740's is sketchy, my side of the family have deep roots in the USA.  So, when I married and immigrant (gasp) straight off the boat, it was a bit of a shock. Of course, since he was Scottish, he was immediately welcomed into the family. The Scots are their favorite foreigners. Now that he is an Americn citizen, our little family is 100% American. Or so I thought.

I took Morgan to an athletic tournament this week and laughed when I realized he's becoming just a wee bit Kiwi. He can master the Maori accent and has adopted the rough and tumble no worries attitude. He is giant compared to the rest of my side of the family standing 6'2" and weighing in at 175lbs at 15. His Rugby coach says he'll be a legend this season before we head back to the USA. He liked that. He chose Rugby again over soccer this season and can now even play Cricket, which will benefit him when we move to Inida next year.

I am not sure if my kids see it as a benefit just yet but having the opportunity to immerse yourself into a culture for 2 years is an amazing gift. You get a full understanding of the culture and have enough time to explore the different areas knowing that you are still an American with all of the advantages that come with being American. You always know in the back of your mind that if it doesn't work out or if you don't like it, you can always go home.

One year later running the Wellington Marathon at 14.

In Morgan's case, he has thrived here. He went from a skinny 13 year old kid to a mature and solid 15 year old young man. Not only has he grown 5 inches but he has gained almost 60 lbs. And, it's not just the physical changes. He has mellowed. He has become interesting in a grown up kind of way.  He is not cocky or boastful but sure of himself and confident. He never disrespects us or challenges our authority and even seems to enjoy our company most of the time which delights me. I am waiting for the day that I all of the sudden become a tiresome idiot who cannot be seen with him in public.

Ewan too has changed but in more subtle ways. He hasn't had the massive growth spurt yet that Morgan has but it's coming. Hopefully he will hit it when we are back in the USA where the groceries are a bit cheaper :)  Ewan is still very much an American child but has dived head first into the Kiwi Sports scene. There isn't a sport that he's not willing to try. He has made the travelling soccer team again this year but decided not to join the school team since most of the games will be played just after we leave. That's a bit disappointing especially since the team will be going to Australia this year to compete. This year however, his classmates are going on a week long camp into the Waitomo Caves, he asked to skip it. Not quite as adventurous as Morgan but I'm not sure I'd be keen on it either. Can you imagine 80 American 12 year old boys on a week long camp into caves? I'd hate to see the liability waiver on that one. They do this every year for every grade. It's amazing. 

Yes, my all American boys have a sprinkling of Scots and touch of Costa Rican and Kiwi but their roots run deep and the knowledge and experiences they gain on this incredible journey will only make them better Americans.