Last year I spent the vast majority of the year observing.
Observing how parents interacted with teachers and leadership team members, observing people’s faces when I used the wrong word – zucchini instead of courgette – observing customs and traditions. I spent a lot of time trying to fit in, trying to respect the culture by reflecting the culture, trying to be more Scottish.
I’ve given up on that a bit. (Although I do use the word bit, a bit more.)
In an effort to satisfy my cultural anthropological curiosity, I’ve joined my kids’ school’s version of the PTO. I expected it to be a bit like the PTO meetings I’ve been a part of in the past – complete with undercurrents of masked hostility, not-so-quiet whispers behind the speaker’s back, a good debate between some passionate moms, and parking lot conversations about what should have been said/done.
I was sadly mistaken and a bit disappointed if I’m honest.
I’ve only made it to one meeting thus far but it was sooooo……..British.
Everyone was orderly. There was no fighting or even disagreeing of any kind. Reminders to do things like RSVP to the meetings. In short, it was rather boring and my popcorn and back row seat totally went to waste.
This experience, coupled with many other small things is what has led me to believe that I don’t need to be more Scottish. Perhaps, the excitement (think Labrador puppy – this is definitely how the rest of the world views Americans and I don’t think they’re far off) that an American brings to the table isn’t such a bad thing after all. Perhaps it is even needed sometimes. At a recent expat group meeting, a new New Zealand member came up to me and said that she always looks for the American groups when she moves because Americans know how to have a good time. So, I’ve decided to participate this year more than observe. To engage rather than shrink back due to my accent and boorish American manners; to infuse a bit of my American customs/mannerisms into the daily lives of Scottish people; to, for better or worse, be myself – myself that is now a bit Scottish – perhaps an adult Labrador rather than a puppy.
The Fall Social
Through very little fault of my own, I’ve wound up as one of the co-social chairs for my expat organization. (And just so you know I am in fact truly becoming Scottish, I spelled organisation with an s initially.) Probably not the best role for me as I am just awful with details – preferring the big picture of FUN rather than the details needed to accomplish said fun. (Which is why Brooke will forever be the best work wife for me!) But it is proving to be an interesting learning experience and a challenge – all of which equate to fun for me. 🙂
This weekend was the first social event of the season! The co-social chair and I arranged for a bus to pick up about 30 people and travel 30-40 minutes down the road to Ellon where there is a Brewdog Brewery. It was so fun!! We ate chili, had beer tastings, got a tour of the brewery and then took over the shuffleboard tables while we waited for our coach to cart us back into town. Brett and I got home at the brink of 11 PM where I promptly passed out because I love having fun but I’m the ripe old age of 35 now so let’s do it early. 😉
The Enchanted Forest
Many, many months, before the social was planned, we booked tickets to The Enchanted Forest in Pitlochry. I’d been excited about going for forever because everyone that’s been just raved about it. But following my “late” night, I wasn’t super keen on the two hour drive there and back. Even though I wasn’t even the one driving! The weather was just awful. Temps said 50F (10C) but it felt more like 70F (20C) and just bloody humid. Plus, a constant drizzle. The weather did nothing to diminish the incredible beauty of the drive there though. If we’d waited a couple more weeks the trees would be full of changing colors. Only a few were starting to change but I was still so captivated, as I always am, with Scotland’s amazing scenery that I didn’t even take any photos. You’ll just have to take my word for it. (Picture a solo fly fisherman in the middle of a calm river, surrounded by beautiful, massive trees gently waving their limbs at you to come over and join in the tranquility.)
No peace when you’ve got 2 kids in the car though. Once we arrived in Pitlochry, our friends, who also have two kids, joined us as we traipsed through town (which is ADORABLE! It looks just like a miniature Christmas town set up!) with four children who’d been cooped up in a car and were now wielding umbrellas. (I’ll let that image sink in for a moment.) We had dinner at The Old Mill Inn and then ice cream across the street before loading into the coach that would take us to the forest.
It was lovely! This year’s theme was cosmos and the kids LOVED dancing among the lights, staring in wonder at the huge glowing Earth and moon, watching the cosmos scene in the middle of the lake and listening to sounds of space on our walk.
Lessons learned for next time:
- Bring cash
- Do not pass up the first stand with drinks and food. Get yourself a hot toddy or a margarita.
- Do not get light up things for the kids prior to the forest. They will break them multiple times.
It was an excellent start to October. Now I have a week of relative freedom before the kids are off for TWO WHOLE WEEKS for the October holidays.
Pray for me.