I've been offline and off blogging for about 2 weeks now. What happened? Those who know me asked and those with access to my gweipo email. It was hard to say. I celebrated my daughter's 9th birthday on the Sunday. I got up and went to school on Monday. I had a therapy session on Monday afternoon. Got home to some pretty nasty, personal, directed at me and my family from what can only be an insider comments and decided "enough". I also got a rather nasty cold which made me feel less than human and not up to any major decisions. I got home and shut down the blog to think. I'm still not done with thinking.
In retrospect this has been percolating for a year. I am no longer Gweipo. When I meet someone new, as one does all the time in this place that is Hong Kong, after the 3rd or 4th question people pose to me, I can see their brains clicking and whirring and "bingo" - You must be Gweipo. It's not always a good space to be in.
What are the options? Carrying on, not carrying on, editing myself, censoring myself, changing focus. All viable. My friend today stressed the fact that for some of my readers I've been providing a service - a medium through which they can try to make sense of their lives in Hong Kong. Or something like "not the SCMP" that they read every morning as a habit as one does, before turning to the suduko in the City section. I'm flattered. Flattered enough to do a "closure". Which is what she said her friends reading Gweipo wanted. Just something to say "this is why". I don't really know why, why now not at any other point?
I went to a session on Cyber citizenship at ISF on Thursday. I was looking for answers there. (www.cybersafekids.com.au for anyone who is interested). It raised as many questions as it did answers. But at the end of the day I think that it is no longer fair on my kids as they get older to be part of a blog in which they have no censorship power and which attracts a sort of voyeuristic pleasure in some others. On the other hand, I'd like them to know one day. Really know, not just what a 20 year time self-censoring self would be prepared to tell them, assuming that they'd dare to ask.
Why is it hard to give up?
I hope to think that I've brought a good few things right out in the bright sunlight of openess where they belong. Things including the fact that expatriation is a damn hard thing and not all sunshine, moet and manicures.
That not all mothers are perfect (I started saying parents, but dad is pretty darn good in our household at least). That we all make mistakes, that we are human. That we do things for the right reasons that don't turn out as right as we'd like them to. That all children are different. That there is no perfect school anywhere, no matter how much choice you think you have. That we all struggle and bumble along as best we can without the benefit of hindsight, reinventing the wheel, ignoring what we choose to ignore and focusing on what we like to focus on. That not all children are perfect that we are warped in our ideas and expectations of children. That children shouldn't be perfect and nor should parents. That there are physical illnesses and mental illnesses and physical aptitudes and difficulties and learning aptitudes and difficulties AND THERE ARE A LOT OF THEM out there.
I know that countless people through the sometimes dubious forums on the expat websites have found their way here trying to find out about ISF and bilingual education and learning Chinese. I hope I have balanced out what has been a pretty hysterical (and not in the funny sense either) discussion on the school.
I am at a cross roads. I spent a while in the last 2 weeks reading through all the wonderful interesting, provocative, insightful comments people have made to my meandering postings. I wouldn't have missed those for anything in the world. It is so tempting to continue. I will miss that. At the end of the week, though I'm going to delete everything and start with a clean slate. I won't be blogging everyday, and I'm not sure whether to keep it an open blog or to close it except for a few selected readers. And if so which readers - sorry but I can only select 100 of you.
In the mean time, I've started another blog, which is in its complete infancy called LingdaoJie, which is dedicated to the topic of learning Chinese and bilingual education. I am hoping it will be a more open and definitely more interactive blogging experience than Gweipo.