We started this adventure back in April, and after 6 months in, the toughest part for us by far has to be the social aspect. It’s pretty much impossible to meet people when we are just traveling through. Even when we spend a good amount of time playing in the parks, most kids in our kiddos’ age would be at school during the day. We knew this going in so we were prepared for it mentally when we traveled in Europe.
However, one of the many reasons we wanted to base in Taiwan for a while between our travels was the hope that we could potentially make some new friends. And we thought getting here by the end of June would help since everyone would be on summer break. As it turned out, local kids in Taiwan, at least those around our kids’ age (and especially girls), do not tend to want to play outdoors, perhaps due to the heat? Once in a while the boys would get to play in a pickup basketball game (with older kids and adults) if we went to the neighborhood elementary school after 5:30pm. But that would be it, and absolutely no other (older) girls could be found. It seemed like no matter what time of the day we try, we would only see the littles playing outside.
We were actually lucky to have found an English-speaking soccer club to enroll the kids in so that they can at least interact with other kids a few times a week. Unfortunately Annabelle is the only girl in the group which she was not happy about. She really misses having her own friends to talk to and play with so the social aspect (or the lack of) is particularly tough for her, as she’s always been the most outgoing and friendly one.
I think she feels sad at times, even if she doesn’t say it, and it perhaps further translates into her frequent struggles with homeschooling. We often would have a hard time getting her to focus or to complete her daily assignments. She often fights or tries to negotiate what needs to be done, and then it ends up putting everyone in a bad mood. It’s not that she is struggling with the actual work (because when she is on, she whips them out like there is no tomorrow), but rather she doesn’t have the motivation to do it. We suspect that she probably misses learning in a group setting, although our current living situation may or may not have also contributed to her resistance.
Some of you know that one reason we came to Taiwan was to spend some time with my parents, mainly due to my mother’s health conditions. Additionally, in order to make our budget stretch a little further, we decided to crash with my parents at their tiny apartment where the four of us sharing one bedroom during our stay here, instead of renting our own place. While we are certainly grateful for the free lodging, the 24/7 close quarters are inevitably getting to us. Everyone’s temper is on a much shorter fuse lately and the kids do pick on each other more often. We truly miss having our own personal space to stretch out so we are really counting down the days until we leave for Thailand next weekend. Although next week we are heading to south Taiwan for a quick beach getaway first, and then Rich will be running a Spartan Race the day before we fly out. It wouldn’t be our style if we didn’t try to do everything all at the same time, right? 😝
Even though all of us love the actual traveling part of this experience, we also know that Annabelle is just not comfortable with living in Taiwan (and Alex is only a little better), and she has begged quite a few times asking to return home for 5th grade. If we still can’t get her to do better with homeschooling while we have our own place in Thailand, then that’s most likely what we will have to do since we definitely can’t risk having her falling behind in her education.
Don’t get me wrong, both kiddos are still ahead progress-wise with their perspective grade level. In fact, Alex is crushing it and is about to finish 6th grade math in another week or two, with other subjects not far behind (except for maybe writing). The thing is that the constant ‘headbutting’ between Annabelle and Rich when it comes to schoolwork is just not good for anyone. We may just have to accept the fact that we are unequipped to accommodate Annabelle’s learning style. We are however holding judgement until after Thailand to see if the situation would improve for her, and will then re-evaluate and adjust our plans accordingly. So stay tuned.