I will now indulge in a little bit of whining, if you don’t mind (please bear in mind that my blog is several weeks behind, because it took a while to get the internet up and running, another frustration).
March 10, 2010:
The kids were dragging their feet much more the second day of school than the first. On the first, it was still new and exciting, whereas today, it was apparent that everything was different and how much they didn’t know. So they basically didn’t want to go back, and especially Impatience had a hard time, hating everything. This made my morning pretty frustrating, and I came home practically in tears after dropping them off, letting a wave of self-pity wash over me. I have my own long list of complaints:
- I have no car
- There are about 2 electrical outlets (4 if you’re lucky) per room, and they are never where you need them. Vacuuming is a challenge, as there are vast areas of house that are not within cord length of an outlet.
- There are absolutely NO electrical outlets in your bathrooms, so you can’t use any electrical appliances there. Hairdryer, curling iron, toothbrush charger all have to be put somewhere else, and using a dental jet is completely impossible unless you want to wind an extension cord into your bathroom. This is not just our house, but South African (and I suspect British) building code.
- Our bathroom has no door to the bedroom. So I pretty much have to rise with Noisette who has decided he has to get up at 4:30 to get to work without impossible traffic (that is HIS major frustration). Or maybe go to sleep with those earplugs and eye shades I got from the airplane. But I’m thinking more along the lines of a project for the handyman who’s already made an appearance – maybe he can install a curtain or something.
- No one knows much at school, Dainfern College. I’ve met Sunshine’s teacher and have asked her questions about the next day, but the other kids were all whisked away and then come home complaining that they don’t know where to go, and get mad when I don’t know either. But when I then ask at the school, I get “he/she must ask” as an answer. Asking is not a forte for my kids, but maybe this will teach them.
- The school’s (or country’s?) curriculum seems too easy. Not that things are easy for the kids right now, as everything is new and that makes them feel rather behind, but so far from what I’ve seen, especially in math, the kids are way ahead. We will give it a bit of time, but then I want to talk to the math teachers. Sunshine, in grade 2, seems to almost be back in Kindergarten. They get let out earlier than the others, have a lot of play time, and read these easy reader books with only a few words in them. Her classroom has no chapter books, and you are only allowed to check out one book from the library per week. We will have to do something about that too. She already told me that she is in her own individual reading group (which she named “bunnies,” ha!) because none of the existing groups were up to her reading level. Anyway, you’d think that this private prep school would be a bit more demanding. All of you Blue Valley parents back in Overland Park can rest assured that your schools are pretty advanced in this (admittedly limited) international comparison!
- My dishwasher is a half a mile away from my kitchen. I’m sure this has to do with the fact that everyone here has a housekeeper living in the (embarrassingly small) quarters behind the kitchen, so that it makes sense to have the dishwasher in “her” kitchen out of sight from “your” kitchen. But since I do not have domestic help yet, I’m covering vast distances trekking back and forth every day.
- There are ants everywhere. Thankfully, I discovered Doom as a very effective ant-killer after the incident with the infested coffeepot. I now keep a spray can of it at arm’s length everywhere I go so I can take out newly discovered ant routes, which the kids have gotten very good at reporting to me. I have some misgivings about the environmental impact (can’t be good) but if you’ve ever had ants in your house you will know that few things are as satisfying as being able to snuff them out with a well-directed burst of spray. In general, the environment does not seem to be at the top of the list for anybody. First, I was told there was no recycling whatsoever, but meanwhile I’ve found out that there is, but you have to pay for it. At least that’s something.
- I have no doorbell. I believe this is the first house I’ve ever lived in that didn’t have a doorbell. When people come by, they just sort of stand in front of our gate, and you just happen to see them or not. It drives me crazy. Or actually, it did until today, when I installed a wireless doorbell that you just glue onto the wall by your gate. One of my cheaper purchases, and it worked on first try. And it started what I’m sure will be many trips to the home supply store, Builder’s Warehouse, which is actually a pleasant surprise. Much like Home Depot but with better service (but make sure you’re not satisfied with a “we don’t have that” from the first person you ask – keep asking). Oh, and if you ever need a handyman, there is always a long line of them camped out right in front holding up signs of what they can do. Or rather say they can do. My confidence was somewhat diminished when I saw one holding a “plumber” sign in one hand and waving a painter’s roller in the other.
- Our house has no coat or linen closets. Where do people keep all their stuff? We don’t even have any stuff yet, as we’re still waiting for our shipment, and it’s already messy. Shoes everywhere by the front door. I suppose this has to do with the maid too – people are just used to dropping everything and the maid carries it away?
- I have no phone. Neither cell nor house. The house phone will come next week (2 weeks after we’ve arrived!) when they will also install our internet connection. And the problem with my cell phone is that a) U.S. iPhones will only work here if you jailbreak them – a term I had vaguely heard before, it is a risky endeavor that may result in your phone not working at all – and then get a new contract and b) to just go ahead and buy a cell phone, ANY cell phone, you have to bring your passport and proof of residence. You pretty much have to show your passport for anything. But my passport is currently at the lawyer’s office so that our visa can be changed from tourist to permanent, who knows how long that will take. So, no cell phone for the moment, other than Noisette’ old U.S. Blackberry, which means any call I make is an international one, which also means that most people cannot call me back from their cell phones. Especially the people at the security gate have no clue how to call me, which is a problem, because then no one who has any kind of delivery for me is let into the estate.
- My appliances are rather basic. I knew this would happen when Noisette negotiated to have them included with the house – they just went out and bought them, and of course got the budget model of each. So my fridge is rather small for the space it is put in, the dishwasher is tiny with a detergent compartment that only opens half the time, the microwave has one of those buttons that you turn as a timer, which is totally imprecise, and the dryer only has a timer dial, meaning you have to figure out how long to dry which kind of load, otherwise you end up with either damp clothes or totally crisp and wrinkly clothes that have probably shrunk by two sizes.
- I HAVE NO CAR! did I mention that already?