The saga continues…
Archie made it to the end of Term I. He came home for the holidays and we went away to Far North Queensland for a holiday. Archie seemed fine but it was apparent he was a touch subdued but he said little about his life at boarding school. We returned home and when there were just a few days remaining before he had to return to school, Archie said, ‘I’m not going back’. That’s when we started to hear about his troubles but only some of them. He kept a lot from us.
But, we’d been haemorrhaging money into this school that didn’t seem to be working out for Archie at all and Carl and I were by this stage very battle-weary, especially with the Sunday night dramas of trying to get him into the car and then when he was there with the phone calls coming from Hogwarts begging us to let him come home so we started to explore other options.
He couldn’t go to the other private school because they’d assessed him as having severe learning difficulties.
He couldn’t go back to his primary school because although that school did have a high school, the principal had said to Carl, ‘We think it would be best if he reinvented himself and had a fresh start somewhere else’, so the option of going back to where he’d spent the previous seven years was the next to be crossed off our list of possibilities.
Then we tried the local high school but on the tour the Year Co-ordinator said to us, ‘If you’re organised and self-motivated you’ll do very well at this school’, so I said, ‘Thanks very much, we can end the tour here’, because those two were not in Archie’s list of skills. Not at all.
Then we tried one of those alternate schools where you don’t have to wear a uniform and you can grow your hair long and the headmaster has a round table in his office instead of a desk so that when the students have to go in and see him they can sit around the tables as equals because no one should have authority over anyone else (I think that was the philosophy). And Christmas and Easter weren’t celebrated but planets and the sun and moon were worshiped and homework was optional because no one should be forced to do anything they don’t inwardly feel they would like to do. Well…we could just see that Archie would love all of this liberalness and the optional learning and the lack of a uniform and growing his hair down to his knees, sitting at a round table with the headmaster telling him how he didn’t really feel like getting an education, so we shut the door on that option too.
Then we found another private school that was cheaper than the one he was at, but for a very good reason; it had almost no facilities. Not even a rugby team. If the boys wanted to play rugby the parents had to organise it and there would be just one team. At boarding school, Archie’s year alone had eight teams and two compulsory training sessions per week and then the match on a Saturday – with no parent involvement. The other thing that put me off this school was the uniform. And you’re going to think this is very trivial but the blazer Archie would have to wear was a horrid shade of blue; like a teal blue and I just couldn’t see my Archie wearing that colour.
But that school was the best other option and so we gave Archie a choice of what he would like to do. Because we were over it. We’d had enough and quite frankly, we were worried about him. We wanted him to be in a happier place.
Then we met a guy on the beach who had been in charge of sport at Archie’s school but had since moved on to coaching rowing at a number of schools and coaching elite athletes like Layne Beachley. When he heard Archie was thinking of leaving after one term, he said, ‘I’m coming over’.
And so he arrived and he sat at our dining room table and he asked Archie why he didn’t like boarding school and let him talk and get it all off his chest. When Archie finished he gave him a motivational speech like I’d never heard before or since. It was unbelievable. He spoke loudly and with so much passion and with so much encouragement. He mentioned how great he thought Archie was and how good he thought he could be at sport and how he needed to throw himself at every opportunity the school had to offer and that by getting involved it would take the focus off having time to think about the negatives and how it could only get better and how he thought Archie had a lot to offer the school and how he wouldn’t have those opportunities anywhere else and how if he left he’d look back and regret it, etc, etc. I was speechless. And so was Archie.
But he filled Archie with belief. Enough belief that on the last day of the holidays, the day we said he had to make a decision about whether that night he was going back to boarding school or the next day he was putting on that teal blue blazer we said, ‘This is your decision. We’re not going to make it for you. If you want to leave boarding school that’s fine and we’ll get you that blue blazer. We’ll be happy with whatever you decide. You’ve seen both schools; you know what they have to offer; you’ve had time to weigh it all up. What are you going to do?’
And there was silence. And with the saddest face I’ve ever seen, Archie stared straight out in front of him and said in a very small voice, ‘I’ll go back to boarding school’. And I couldn’t say anything at that point because in my head I knew he’d made the best decision but my heart ached for him. He was about to get in the car and go back to a place where he didn’t have a friend in the world and he had no reprieve from the loneliness and isolation and the ridicule and the scorn that an ADHD child can be subjected to. I said, ‘You’re a very brave boy. I admire you. You have a lot of courage’.
We packed his things into the car; I gave him a long hug, he got into the car and said to his father, ‘Dad, can we listen to the songs on my i-pod?’
‘Sure’. And off he went for Term II.
But within three weeks Carl and I were called in for an emergency meeting and I really do promise I will tell that story in my next post, it’s just this story is turning out to be so much bigger than I thought it was ever going to be and it’s taking me a while to get there.
In the meantime…Archie, who as you know is not that 12-year old little boy any more, he’s 20 and he’s eating lots of eggs. Lots and lots of eggs. Because he’s not eating carbs. (I think he’s the one not eating carbs – they’re all not eating one thing or another at the moment and it keeps changing so as the short-order cook, I’m finding it hard to keep up). He has four scrambled eggs for breakfast and he makes them himself and yells, ‘Mum, can you buy more eggs’, and I just keep wishing I had hens in the backyard. He likes eggs for dinner too and I saw Julie Goodwin cooking these omelettes on the Today Show and I just knew these would be right for Archie and Arabella, (the sometimes vegetarian) who also isn’t eating wheat or dairy or carbs. And these are just fine for me and Carl but Alfie didn’t like them – however I’m happy with a 4/5 result.
Vegetable Noodle Omelette
Degree of Difficulty: 3/5 (Because you can only make one omelette at a time and some people get nervous making omelettes.
Cost: This is a great family meal that is light on the hip pocket.
- 200g pkt hokkein noodles (I used rice noodles)
- 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
- 1 carrot, cut into fine strips
- 1 onion, finely sliced
- 1 red capsicum, cut into fine strips
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
- 2 baby bok choi, quartered lengthways
- 1/3 cup hoi sin sauce
- 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 8 large eggs
- Ground white pepper
- To serve: Kecap manis (or sweetened soy sauce), bean sprouts, crispy fried shallots, coriander leaves
Prepare the noodles according to the packet directions, strain and set aside.