Sunday, May 7, 2006

Decisions Decisions

What to do, what to do. A boring life would be, well, boring. But I'd prefer (wouldn't we all?) if all the "hard" decisions were more along the lines of which airline to fly, or which house to buy, or whether to keep the dog when we leave or... well, you get the idea.

We're going along as though... as though nothing will change. But that couldn't be farther from the truth. Everything is up in the air right now.
Ian wrote an e-mail to the director of the British School asking where it stands. Rumors are spreading like wild fire, and as rumors have a tendency to do, they are getting worse with each retelling. The latest is the school will shut its doors this summer. Getting info right from the director is the only way to clear the air, but that's not entirely sure either. After all, this is his business, his livelihood, and he's not going to want to tell us the nitty gritty truth if it means we'll choose not to enroll our kids, thereby hurting the school more. He'll want to tell us the best possible outcome, right? The biggest issue is the lack of boarding students. The troubles a year ago with the Togolese elections are still being felt and people don't want to send their kids to a boarding school in a potentially unstable country. These parents are from Nigeria though, so I'm not sure how they can consider Togo an unstable country. For whatever their reasons, the boarding students aren't coming in needed numbers and they are the financial staple of the school.
We'll hear from the director when Ian gets back from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, next week.
Without BSL, there are no outside school options (while I realize the French school would be great immersion for the language, I don't agree with the rote and often harsh teaching methods used. We have enough problems with the teaching methods at AISL to ever think of stepping backwards).
Other options? Pull up a chair:
Stay and Homeschool: Pros - We certainly have plenty of materials, the kids would be at home and could all go at their own pace. There would be no new upheaval and we finish our tour like FSOs are supposed to. Cons - Like we aren't isolated enough. There are few places to go for cultural activities or sports activities. Everything homeschoolers do in the States is 20X harder to do here, if it's even available. And if Ian left his position right when he's supposed to transfer to Political, that would leave the Political position empty for the next year.
SMA: SMA=Separate Maintenance Allowance. Ian stays here to finish the tour, the kids and I return to the States for the next school year. You can imagine how far that went in our discussions. But I had to bring it up, because it -is- an option, though not a good one. He would much rather curtail than split the family.
"Boarding School": aka grandma's and grandpa's house. Ian and I and the boys stay here. The girls attend school back home and live with my parents. Pros - We would enroll the boys at AISL since they will both be in Miss Emily's class, a teacher we respect. The girls get a good education in a place they are happy in and are with their grandparents. Cons I would spend all my time at the school making sure my kids get water whenever they need it (yes, an actual concern. The P.E. teacher has been having all the kids -earn- their water, during 45 minutes in the direct Togo sun. Do you know how long it takes a Kindergartener to make 20 baskets? The whole P.E. period). Oh, and have I passed this through either the kids or my parents? No. The biggest Con - See SMA
Curtailing: We all leave Togo early. Pros - There are several positions open this summer for Ian's grade and job position, three in Chennai, India alone. We could find a place much more suitable for our family. The kids wouldn't blink at leaving Togo. Our kids have already learned that anywhere outside of Virginia is home as long as our family is together. Some places will make a greater impression on them than others, but as long as we're together all is good. Cons - My head is reeling with all the complications, not the least of which being that if we curtailed it would have to be in the next 3 months... running into our R&R (would that be canceled? Do we have to go to the States between here and next post?), our consumables (the rest of our order is due, what happens if we go somewhere without a consumables allowance, or worse, if we order and it gets shipped, and we leave before it gets here... etc etc), and didn't we JUST get here and don't I really hate the 1001 logistic problems of moving??
Step #1, once we understand what's going on with the British School, is asking Ian's CDO (career development officer and basic lifeline to the Department back home) what her recommendations are. What are the true pro and con effects to his career with each of our options. What's best for the family may not be best for his career, and vice versa. Though if we could find a middle ground somewhere, that would be great.
I'm thankful none of our problems are life and death issues. That is my silver lining.

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