We are emigrating to Mexico in four days. In order to really feel my growing hysteria and rising stress levels, I recommend starting at the beginning of my story: with Mexico: The Return part one.
Human Poo On The Door Step (And It’s Not A Metaphor)
Yeah. Cheers London. I guess this is good bye then. Over the weekend, my parents came up to say good bye and to take a bunch of our stuff home with them. Just after we finished packing their car, a guy arrived, as agreed, to pick up our bunk beds. When I opened the door, he greeted me with, ‘Hi, I’ve just trodden in the poo on your doorstep’. Ace. Good start. We were obviously simultaneously mortified and horrified. Our first thought was that a fox had taken a dump on the doorstep but, honestly, this was too big and too stinky to be anything but human. We also realised that where it was laid suggested a modicum of planning we probably wouldn’t associate with a fox: it was to the side, well hidden from anyone walking by on the road and far more discrete than anywhere else they’d have found on the rest of the road. So, yay, lucky us. We are pretty sure it wasn’t a ‘fuck you’ from our neighbours since we’re on randomly good terms with them all given that we live in central London.
Actually, despite being a true story, it could also be a metaphor, given how stressful the last week has been. It all culminated with me yelling (uncharacteristically) at Col on Friday night before I went out. He came home from work and informed me that he no longer liked one of our major packing decisions. He didn’t give any solutions, just a gloomy prediction of how everything would go wrong. Then he said he wasn’t going to try and fix it until the following Thursday, just one day before our bags are being picked up.
And so I exploded.
I informed him he was not permitted to behave in this way because I had done ALL the packing and decision making around packing up to that point, except for the one decision he was now unhappy with. I gave him a number of tasks to do that Friday night and then I flounced off to see friends. To his credit, he neither yelled back, nor refused to do what I demanded of him. I think he realised that I was seriously stressed and he wasn’t helping at all.
At the very beginning of this process we had decided that I would not go back to work. There were a number of reasons behind this decision, one of them being the understanding that moving our family to Mexico would be far harder if we both had full time jobs. It is, therefore, entirely fair that I have done the bulk of the work to get us to Mexico but by this point I Had Had Enough!
Packing For Emigration
Top Tip: Tell your parents it’s just a box or two of books and then when they arrive with their car, simply ram in as much as possible whilst telling them how much you love them. Can’t fail.
My parents have been incredible. My top tip is clearly a joke, my parents were never under any illusions about Col and me. They’ve been through this so many times with us and with my brother too that they’re just resigned to never being able to downsize because they have too much shit from us lying around (see, it was a metaphor that keeps on giving!). We have off loaded our warm clothes, a library worth of books and some toys. They scavenged some bread boards, alcohol and my amazing Rwandan statues. Everyone’s a winner. We’re practically doing them the favour.
Now that they have taken our stuff for us, the house is starting to look a lot better as rooms declutter and bags get packed. Our bedroom has been the main staging post for the packing, meaning that it has been pretty depressing in there at times. Only yesterday did we make any real headway in getting the room back to a semblance of normality.
Moving Children Half Way Around The World
Our biggest concern has always been ensuring our kids cope well with this move they probably would never have chosen for themselves. My aunt is an educational psychologist and something she said to me a couple of years ago has helped with the process. After the kids and I witnessed a stabbing incident on our way home from nursery she told me that I should make sure that I owned the narrative my then three year old held about what he had seen. I don’t think I can necessarily own their Mexico narrative in the same way but we are clear that it is up to us to ensure that our children are able to tell themselves positive stories about this big life change.
Tips For Making Emigration Positive For Kids
- Be positive about the change
- Acknowledge that it’s ok to be a bit sad about the people and places you’re leaving behind and name the ways in which we can still contact them –my three year old was overheard discussing this with her best friend. They have agreed to write each other letters.
- Tell the children that they’ll always belong to X country or city and that no one can take that away from them
- Talk about tangible benefits to the move
- Focus on what’s important to your children – we have been clear that early destinations will be a toy shop and the beach. We also remind them that in Mexico we can have a pool in our garden but that can never happen in chilly London
- Listen to your kids’ concerns and try to address them for them, or , if they’re old enough, help them address them themselves
Our five year old is surprisingly upbeat about the move. Before we went to Mexico for six months in October 2016 he was just four and he really struggled with the change. His behaviour took a massive, but predictable and understandable, dive. He had tantrums, wouldn’t cooperate with anyone and even locked the nanny in the garden. This time, despite actually feeling the loss more because he adores his school, his friends and his teacher, he is actively excited to go. He gave me his list of things he’s excited about (in order):
- TV on the aeroplane
- Toy shop
- Swimming all the time
- Watching TV in Mexico
- Going for breakfast on Sunday (we have promised a special brunch on Paseo Montejo)
- Going to the beach
He says he will miss:
- Pizza (there is pizza in Mexico, fear not)
He will not miss:
- Being cold
The almost four year old is a very different kettle of fish. She’s less of a roller coaster of a human being but actually, I think in some ways she’s finding this harder than her older brother. She was just three when we got home last time and for her, Mexico is more of a blur than for him. He knows exactly where we’re going and what to expect. She has less of a clear picture and, as such, is less happy. She adores her preschool and her friends and emphatically does not want to leave them behind. However, all her dreams revolve around adventures in Mexico and all her games are about Mexico right now so I can assume she understands what’s happening. She is marginally trickier than normal, I guess trying to retain some control in her own life, but generally she’s doing ok too.
Both kids got emotional about saying good bye to their bunk beds over the weekend. We had prepared them well for this but on Sunday when they woke up and realised they’d never sleep in them again, they were both upset. So, to help them say goodbye, I got them back in to bed and brought them breakfast in bed. They were over the moon and between that and a promise of tv while we dismantled the beds, all was fine in their worlds. Since then, they’ve been happily trying out the two new double beds we’ve bought for the new tenants.
So Here We Are: The Final Countdown
In front of me is a bottle of North Korean schnapps we picked up when in Pyongyang in 2010. It has never been opened and probably never will be but we can’t bring ourselves to get rid of it. We had one particularly memorable night getting absolutely plastered on this stuff whilst eating clams our hosts cooked over a bonfire. I will never, ever get that drunk on schnapps again but this just feels too important to get rid of. We are incredibly lucky to have been to North Korea and this is pretty much the only thing we have left from there now (except for a few bank notes Col persuaded a guide to swap with us for filthy evil American dollars!). That bottle, a jack in the box and a few photos still have to go away an then we’re pretty much packed.
I’ve managed to fit in a few Spanish lessons with Laia from Spanish To Travel in the last week or two, which has restored my confidence somewhat. After ten months of barely speaking Spanish, I wasn’t sure I still could. Turns out I can! I would highly recommend her lessons to anyone heading off to a Spanish speaking country as she provides great one on one internet based classes. (Disclaimer, she did give me free classes but not in any expectation of a review or a recommendation, it was a new year gift).
I’ve also spent the last ten days or so saying goodbye to friends and family. Why is it that it’s so much easier to realise how damned lucky you are when you’re saying goodbye to people you love? We truly are fortunate people to have so many wonderful individuals in our lives and I’ll miss them all incredibly and fully expect them all to make it out to see us so we don’t feel too bereft. Having my cake and eating it too? Well, why not?
Right, the next time you hear from me I shall be MexicoCassie for real! Hopefully I’ll also be able to sleep as the worst will be over and I can stop being wired all the time.