Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Best Kids Ever!

Lucy and Liam anticipating yet another cramped cab ride

When I was eleven or twelve, my Mom suggested that we might have to move from our home in Dartmouth to Halifax, a distance of about twenty kilometers (miles for my American readers). I remember how devastated I was at the prospect of leaving the neighborhood and friends that my life seemed to revolve around. As far as I was concerned, it was the end of the world. Ultimately we didn't make the move (and I'm pretty sure my whining factored into the decision).

You can imagine why I announced our possible move to the other side of the world with some trepidation. There was a lot to leave behind in order to come here. We all gave up family and friends to come here, but my kids willingly gave up the only life they really knew. And they gave it up willingly.

Yes, they do celebrate birthdays in Abu Dhabi
We exchanged a great home with a spacious yard for a three bedroom apartment and the constant din of city living. Lucy gave up many of her precious stuffed animals to come here, a sacrifice that I didn't fully appreciate until I blubbered my way through the last twenty minutes of Toy Story 3. Liam left a great young men's program. Miranda lost new friends that had just moved in across the street, and James gave up regular play dates with Chaim Pilling. Our existence here hasn't been complaint free, but none of my kids has complained about the big stuff. None of them has said that they wanted to give up and go back to Canada. They have all shown a resilience that I could have only hoped for at their age. They've taken it all in stride, the cramped cab rides, the constant barrage of foreign languages and smells, and the incessant sunlight (I guess that last thing isn't such a hardship).

Me playing around with shutter speed.
I often write about what my kids are doing, but I don't write enough about how absolutely amazing they are. So, just in case there's any question about where I stand on my kids, I think they are the bees knees and the cat's pyjamas all rolled up into one.

My kids are not shy about sharing their joy.

New on Franksyness!
We're going to start a new feature on the franksyness blog. Because I worry that I have not been giving the whole picture of our experience here, I'm going to turn over some of the blogging duties to Liam, Lucy and Miranda (not that I've told them yet). If you have any questions about our experiences here and you're looking for the real scoop, you can post a question in the comments section and either Liam or Lucy or Miranda will answer it (one of the nice things about homeschooling is that you can turn anything into homework).

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Finding Home in a Land of Constant Distraction

And there's a roller coaster inside this mall too!
I’ve posted pictures of the city skyline and the beaches just minutes from our apartment. What I haven’t written about is how much there is to do on any given weekend. It’s hard to convey just how much is going on in this city on any given day. This is a city that is serious about establishing itself as a world class destination. It’s like we’re faced with a constant barrage of once in a life time opportunities. It’s hard not to feel a little guilt for just wanting to sit at home on the weekend and watch a DVD or read a book.
A few weeks ago Julie and the kids attended a performance by yet another visiting world class orchestra. Liam was having some difficulty making up his mind as to whether or not he was going to go. For as much as I believe in the principle of free agency, as soon as he expressed his indifference, I promptly took the choice away from him. I believe the words I used were, “I don’t care whether you want to go or not. You are going to have this once in a lifetime experience. I don’t want to have to deal with the consequences of your regret.” In the end he was extremely grateful to have gone. And I only felt mind regret over the guilt trip I laid down on him.
Just last week, Eric Clapton was in town to play, Tony Hawk was also here along with some other famous X-athletes to put on an exhibition. We chose to visit a ship that was traveling around the world as an ambassador for literacy and other, less explicit messages. It basically functioned as a floating bookstore, and in the end, I would have preferred to see Tony Hawk, but hindsight’s always 20/20.
The problem with chasing down all of these opportunities is that it’s easy to lose the experience of actually being in a place. Even people who have been here for more than a decade don’t refer to Abu Dhabi as home. Home is always some other place. I’ve always tied to live with the philosophy that home is wherever my wife and kids were (and yes, I believed this before I saw the youtube video of the cute kid and here dad singing the song by The Magnetic Zeros). It’s hard not struggle with the feeling of being on a perpetual vacation that’s interrupted occasionally by work and utility bills, but we’re looking for more than the distractions vacation. We want to create real relationships. We want to learn about the cultures the surround us in more than superficial ways. We’re looking to create experiences that will change our lives. And an Eric Clapton concert, for as much fun as that would be, can only change a person’s life so much.
So few pictures of me.
She only fell down twice this time.