I have been feeling very overwhelmed these past couple weeks, and I know I just need to take a deep breath and keep forging ahead because things will settle down in the coming weeks. There seems to be a lot going on right now!
Drew’s start in school has been successful, even though I was an overly anxious wreck over it. It is mind-boggling, however, what a difference this makes to our life routine, and I don’t know how any parent can be fully prepared. Here are a few of the big differences I have noticed that no one really talks about beforehand:
-He is now around kids up through the 7th grade, about 11-year-olds. He has never been in a group of kids other than his own age group, or beyond the age of 4, ever. Granted, they do keep the Prep kids in the back, very much to themselves, but he is exposed to older kids daily now for school assemblies, etc. Funny point on assemblies—they are called “Parade” down here. Isn’t that odd?! When they first announced that they were having parade on Friday, Drew and I thought they were having “a parade”, and that the kids all lined up and walked around in their uniforms for the parents. Would there be floats as well?! Nope! It’s what we call an assembly. We were a bit disappointed. But he did really like his first one, including seeing all the big kids, and everyone in the same uniform he wears. Now, I know not one of those big kids will be rude to the little kids EVER, or I will hunt them down!
-I have always had a written summary of his days spent away from me, provided by his caregivers. Well, teachers insist that they are NOT caregivers; however we are leaving our children in their hands five days a week, all day. So, if they are not caregivers, who is looking out for my baby? From his former daycare, to our regular babysitter, even to his preschool, I always got to see photos of what he did all day and a written summary. Now….nothing, except what I can get a 4 ½ year old to tell me about his day. I think that is really the toughest part to get used to. It’s a distinct change in involvement and a loss of control for me. I am really putting my kid out in the world and hoping he swims instead of sinks—gulp!
-Zach not only has to now also get up early five days a week to be dragged along to drop off, but he also has to change his nap time, and so far often be woken up from his naps to be dragged again to pick up. All three of our lives are now greatly focused around this 9:00-3:00 window, and considering the extra time you have to allow on each side for travel, etc., we surprisingly don’t have a vast amount of time to accomplish much. It is quite a regimented schedule. When I picked Drew up at the end of the first day, with all the emotion that day entailed, the teacher said “Good-bye. See you tomorrow!” My first thought was “Huh?” Then, “Oh, yeah, we have to do this again tomorrow! And the next day, and the next day, and that just gets us to the end of this week! Wow!”
-There is a whole new world out there, a new club I’m now a member of called the “Parents of School Kids.” It really is amazing and different. You see the same parents, same siblings, twice a day; all of us adhering to this same exact schedule.
Zach also started a new daycare this past week. He didn’t even cry when I left on the first day—a first for him! And when I picked him up after his second day, he didn’t run to me but preferred to keep playing—another first! I am so proud of that big boy. I can’t believe he will be three in 10 days……
The other main big issue we have been dealing with is Drew’s medical situation. We had his consult with the ENT last Wednesday, and as expected, the doctor recommended he get tubes in his ears again. We are scheduled for Monday. Please keep my brave, sweet baby in your prayers. I know it’s a minor procedure, but nothing concerning your own child is minor. I tell myself that many parents deal with much more, and thankfully, he is a healthy boy overall, but I still hurts my heart that this is the little guy’s third time going under anesthesia and getting cut into. I get nervous anyway, but doing this all down here just makes it that little bit harder and more unknown. We will be at a hospital we have never been to; my Mom isn’t near enough to come bring him toys and food or hang out with Zach…..it just seems like a big deal.
Again, the whole process has been so different for me to navigate. We had to pay for the consult, and at the same time, pay the ENT in advance for his services on the day of the surgery. When I got home I had to call our health insurance (it’s called a health fund here) to find out our out of pocket costs for the hospital, and was pleasantly surprised to find out there are none because Drew is a child. I also had to call the anaesthetist (Australian for anesthesiologist) to find out their fees, and then read about the scary side effects and email over a financial consent form. I then had to start filling out a great deal of paperwork online for the hospital. But then the next day, I received two calls from different departments at the hospital, asking the same questions on those forms, so just ignored what I did online and covered it all with them. I have heard that some people have similar experiences in the U.S., but everything we did over there was all under the same system; all our information was already known in that system and we just paid one flat copay and received no other bills.
Terminology is greatly different here as well. The poor nurse at the hospital and I spent quite a bit of extra time on the phone yesterday getting everything translated. Get this—I’ve said before that they call what I knew as a Well Child Exam or yearly physical, the ‘Needles Appointment’. Well, they also call an IV, a drip, or formally a cannula. But then they call the operating room a theater! So, we’re scaring the crap out of people talking about needles and drips and then taking them off to the theater?! Funny stuff.
Packing for our move is coming along slowly but I have successfully figured out the transfer of our internet service (I hope!). I think I just have the power company and the post office left…..
We are back to the drawing board on the credit card issue. Apparently what our bank offers is more of an overdraft protection and not an actual credit card, which for some reason neither of us understood. So, we did get that, but need to start over with other banks to try and get an actual credit card.
That led to stress for me related to our flights. That, and finding out that flights to the U.S. at any time during the six week summer break here, from mid-December through January, are close to $3400 per adult—-crazy! So, needless to say, we are looking at alternative times to visit. That is annoying to me as it’s the only time Steve can be with us for more than two weeks. Also, the thought of hardly ever seeing our extended family for Christmas is a bit sad. Plus we want to see snow and ski over there! And, the prices are still increased during every school break, so we are really quite stuck. I don’t really mind taking the boys out of school as years go by, but it’ll be awhile until Steve can take off large chunks of time on either side of the two-week breaks. We will get there…..
The good news is that if Centrelink ever does decide to come after us for that $7,000 they say they overpaid us, I found out that they typically just decrease our regular payments by a certain percentage until the fee they want to collect is paid off. That’s a relief to know that if they ever do decide to make us pay for their mistake, they will not be making us fork over that kind of money or be off to jail instead! (Did you know that word is spelled ‘gaol’ here?! And ‘aeroplane’—-for the longest time I thought people were just taking an extra-long time to pronounce airplane!)
I haven’t put this in writing yet, but I started counseling last month. I have just been feeling lost and not my usual happy self too often for my liking, and I felt like I was handling issues inappropriately, so decided to seek some help. The bulk of the fees are covered by Medicare here and it has honestly been the best decision I could have made. She has helped me to process my feelings in a positive way and come up with methods to work on solving them. While some people have even quite rudely questioned why I want to bring my boys ‘home’ on a regular basis, she understands and told me it is a normal part of a move like this, and the important thing is to set it as a goal and find tangible ways to fund that goal. Steve and I got to have our first solo evening together in months last night, and had wonderful discussions around our goals and ideas. I know as we get more established we will start to become more secure financially. And, as soon, as things settle down enough for me to focus on my income-generating capabilities, I have a lot of ideas to explore! That’s a fun feeling.
I will end today with a precious quote from my sweet big boy. Because of our now frequent, lengthy housing searches, he has become accustomed to seeing For Rent signs on houses and recognizes them now as we drive around town. As we were driving up a street in our neighborhood the other day, he said “Mommy, did you know that somebody borrowed that blue house? The sign is down.” How precious is that kid?!