Friday, February 19, 2010

The freak-out.

This is the "freak-out" post. Just warning you.

Along with the A-100 board, I also check the Livelines board and the FS-Parent group. They all give many practical tips and real advice from people who have been there and done that. Very helpful and reassuring. Usually. But just recently there have been some messages going around that are not reassuring. Not at all.

Specifically, one writer was concerned that her son would need to move to a new high school for just his senior year and that some schools don't allow you to transfer in for just your senior year. The advice on how best to handle that situation is what scared me. It seems this is a common problem, how to get your kids through high school while in the FS, with postings lasting just 2-3 years in each location, at most. Suggestions included sending the child off to boarding school, home-schooling for the final year, having the Foreign Service Officer volunteer to go to Iraq or Afghanistan to extend the family's stay in the current post, asking a friend or acquaintance at post to take your child for the final year of high school while everyone else in the family goes to the next post. Really!? The best advice is to leave your child behind? The best advice is to send your child away? Would it be a great senior year for a child to have Dad go to Iraq, because Iraq is so safe and reassuring? And if that is one of the better suggestions...< shudder >. Some suggest timing things just right so that the child can have the final three years in one school. I'm not sure how we would do that. Our kids are all 2 years apart. Granted, we have some time to be concerned about high school, as they are only 5, 7 and 9 now, but still! And this is the life I am hoping to get into. A life where everything is harder, everything requires research and extra paperwork. Where sending my child or children away could really be an option?

After reading a few messages last night, I said to my husband, "It's only going to get harder, isn't it?" He looked at me, puzzled. I clarified, "Everything is pretty easy now. We don't have to do much, we don't have to work too hard to be happy."

Usually a person sees a storm brewing and steers away from it. I fear we are sailing on calm waters and are aiming this ship straight into the storm.

It sounded a lot better when I was using the merry-go-round/roller coaster analogy.

So yeah, this is the freak-out post, but I can't promise it is "THE" freak-out post. This will not conclude the freaking-out. I'm sure there will be more freak-outs to come.


Jill said...

I've moved 4 times now with the State Dept... and no, packing up your life and moving to another State or country is NEVER easy.

However, I've also been overseas long enough to deal with TONS of families moving during kids senior high school years. In fact, you could be one of the lucky MANY who have kids so resilient, that packing up and moving during a senior year is one more positive thing about going to your next post.

Last year my daughter went to 3 schools... and while it was a tad stressful, she just grabbed her backpack and went with it.

And honestly, I have YET to hear of ANY overseas school that doesn't allow for a child to transfer in their senior year. Most of these schools are somewhat affiliated with a Consulate or Embassy - and their top priority is to take these kids...

Don't freak out just yet - there are PLENTY of other things to worry about.

A Daring Adventure said...

Just wanted to let you know about my experiment - I've started a weekly "Blog Roundup" of State Department blogs that I know about... and that includes yours! ... and their noteworthy happenings in the past week.

It's my way of trying to make it easier for everyone to keep up -to see who is out there - and what everyone is doing.

Let me know what you think -


A Daring Adventure said...

I think, when going through the process for State, it's a lot to absorb all at once.

Even folks that are single or don't have children find it overwhelming, so how much more would a family?

And I think it's really hard to look so far ahead and try to figure out the logistics. As the journey unfolds, you will learn more and have more time to absorb and consider the questions of what is right for your family.

Blessings to you.

mama puffin said...

Not to worry. I have had my share of freak outs too but am now at ease with most of it. I truly believe it will all work out and thus far it has been much better than I anticipated. I am preparing myself by throwing out my preconceived notions of how our family timeline should unfold over the next 10 years, including school for the girls.

FS, here we come! said...

Thanks for the encouraging words. I appreciate it. The freak-out passed. I'm fine. But it is a challenge to "let it go", the planning and being in control mentality.

Jen said...

We have been thinking about this off and on since Peter graduated from BSAC (3 weeks after our oldest daughter, now 11, was born). While we would love to know that we will be overseas for most or all of our daughters' high school years, we know in all likelihood, it is way beyond our control.

I also know of kids who have been in 4 schools (high schools) over 4 years and it hasn't hurt them. The FS builds up a good bit of resiliency in your kids after a while.

I know I also have a hard time letting go of things, but had to just yesterday. I have no idea where we will live as of June (hubby goes to Iraq in July, trying to decided where to do ISMA), but realized that I have to just quit worrying. We really can't do anything until we have arrived in our new location (wherever we go) and that's that.

Good luck, I know it's hard :-)

Shannon said...

The schools that won't allow you enroll for just your senior year are few and far between and mostly IB school and will generally make allowances for kids coming from another IB school. In addition you can still extend at high differential post some of which have excellent schools.

Don't get too worked up about it if you can help it. Most of the things I have had freak-outs over have turned out to be nothing or at most a minor irritant. Going to our first post in Jakarta I was totally freaked out about no being able to drink the water, totally panicked about the kids forgetting and drinking the water when they brushed their teeth or getting bath water in the mouth. In hind sight this is so laughable, it was a complete non-issue once we were there.

Brian... said...

Two things:

1. My A-100 classmate never graduated high school. Turns out some colleges never ask for your transcript. Later on he tested for his GED.

2. In my opinion, homeschooling isn't that scary of an option. Your kids won't turn into booger-eating weirdos, just weirdos (I was homeschooled for 8 years, and I don't eat my boogers). Seems like most people have strange perceptions of what it involves and who does it. I just know that personally I felt like it was the best education I ever got and also allowed me to develop a better relationship with my mother.

Anyway, good luck!

Bridget said...

I just discovered your blog today. I'm an FS candidate, taking my OA on Fri if I can get to DC! I really appreciate you blogging about this. When you're on this side, you're supposed to want it so bad that you don't care what it all means. But I also can't help being scared about what it will mean for my toddlers, who are so stable now. There are a lot of pluses but some scary minuses too! Good luck resolving your concerns..and hope you get the call soon! Bridget

Anonymous said...

I am currently awaiting final suitability review, and periodically freak out. We have a nice house, good jobs, and a stable life. Oh, and a new baby that has really brought our large extended family closer together. Are we really going to chuck it all (except the baby!) for this crazy lifestyle? Sometimes it seems nuts!

I love the line in your "about me" paragraph about surviving the transition. That is SO where I'm at. I just keep telling myself that transitions are always hard, and that I just need to breathe and have faith that somehow, it will all work out. It always does.

Connie said...

International schools are incredibly flexible - they HAVE to be! - and I have found the ones I've had to deal with very willing to work with you before, during and after your children's time there. Our kids came to their new school a month after class started, and they weren't the latest arrivals. Welcome to the FS life :) it's all about going with the flow, freak out when you need (you won't be the only one who is, was or will!), but keep on keeping on! I wish I'd started blogging when we first started out.

Greta H said...

I've had my kid-related freak-outs too. Although I can't quite wrap my fingers around the high school thing just yet. Good luck to you. Interesting post.