After several years in our big old house our children went, one by one, to the local school. It was with mixed feeling that I did the first trip with two toddlers, a three year old hanging off the pram handle and a very independent four year old who considered herself too grown up to hold the pram, was quite able to walk by herself and couldn’t wait to get to school. Luckily, we only had to cross one busy road and then she could run ahead along the sidewalk with lots of kids heading in the same direction.
Trying to hug her goodbye in her classroom was a waste if time, she had seen all the treasures that awaited her first day in this new place, lots of play areas that had all sorts of wonderful stuff. A sand box on legs, a modelling plaster station, water toys and Lego. This was the first time she or I had seen Lego, maybe it had been introduced to the schools first but t was several years until it became a well known toy.
While I stood outside the window looking in, sure that there would be tears, the little traitor raced from one exciting set of toys to the next. I sadly walked home knowing that a new era had begun. The daily routine now changed into a slightly more hectic schedule of getting kids ready for outdoors and out of the house before 8.30. I sometimes didn’t get the twins dressed until I came home as it was such a rush. The three year old was sulky because her older sister was missing as she was the one with the imagination to think up new games, the young twins had their own fun which didn’t include her so she spent more time “helping” me which really slowed things down.
School in England started when children were four with full a day, nine till four was along stretch so the youngest used to lie on a mat after lunch for a nap. It also meant that picking children up on winter afternoons meant walking home in the dark. Dinner was usually had around five pm followed by a short play time then bath time and bed.
Next spring the second child started school but hated it. She has assumed that her older sister would be there to keep her company whilst away from mom, but of course this was not to be. The vast array of new toys did not make up for the loneliness of being away from her family and she cried every day when I left her. It took quite a while for her to adjust to school and she never enjoyed it until she was in 12th grade.
When they were three, I put the twins into a playgroup and started a part time job. The extra money made an enormous difference to the family budget and soon we were able to move to a newer house with all modern conveniences. The home was only a mile from the previous house, so visits to the inlaws were not a problem. What I really loved about the location was the fact that three blocks of homes formed a triangle and in this triangle was a children’s play park that only the children in the homes could access. It was a private park where the kids were really safe. Most houses had a gate opening into the play area and all moms tended to keep watch over everyone’s children.
The house was just a few years old but was owned by a couple who had had marital difficulties and had split up. Apparently the wife was very bitter about what was going on and she had done some strange things to vent her anger. Neighbours told us of her having bonfires on the front lawn where she set all her husbands clothes on fire. She had also brought in a team of contractors to decorate the home in terrible colours. The brick house had all the outdoor trim painted bright blue and gold, which in this rather quiet area of black and white trimmed homes, stood out like a sore thumb.
The interior had been done in equally glaring colours. Living room had yellow stripes on three walls which looked rather hideous with the red tartan on the fourth wall. The very small bathroom was covered in bright blue with big ducks printed all over and the stair walls were done in red and black diamonds. However, if you could look past the décor, the home was lovely and, because it was so awful, they took our offer without complaint.
I soon got busy with paper stripper and paintbrush and changed the monstrosity to fit in with it’s boring surroundings. The man next door applauded when he saw me painting the outdoor trim in traditional black and white. I would have liked to have painted the front door red, as a contrast, but was talked out of it by my conservative husband. I settled instead for painting the mail box scarlet, (OOOH)
The children moved to a nearer school and soon the twins started there as well. The middle child was still having problems she was a great speller and had lovely handwriting skills but she wrote completely backwards. If you held her work up to the mirror, it was perfect. Nobody seemed to have an answer to this problem so Dave and I struggled to show her the correct way to write and, she eventually got the hang of writing correctly. Another big problem was her reading, she could read anything you put in front of her but could not comprehend what she had read. Trying to get her to understand the plot or who was the main character, was extremely difficult.
One of the problems in schools at that time was a big influx of families from east India, this meant many non-English speaking children going into the schools. The ESL program had not yet been thought of so the poor teachers were thrown in the deep end with several children, in each class, who couldn’t speak the language. This caused the teachers to spend more time with the new children and the others had to sort of manage as best they could. Our other children soon adjusted but the middle child just started to withdraw and fall further behind.
I had learned to drive and felt like I owned the world. Our combined jobs were giving us a good income and we had enough money to take a vacation to visit family in USA.
My mom had moved to Oregon to live with her cousin and we were invited to go for a visit and also to visit with my cousin who lived near Seattle. A friend of my mom had offered use of her tent trailer so we had the chance to see some of the western part of the country. We spent six weeks touring round some of the spectacular sights of the Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon, the fantasies of Disneyland, the beauty of the giant Redwoods and the twisted streets of San Francisco . We then travelled up to Canada, over to the Island and then into the Okanagan, we fell in love.
After checking out the variety of millwright jobs in the Vancouver newspapers, we bought a 14 foot travel trailer and went home to sell up and emigrate.
Needless to say, friends and family were stunned when they found out that we and our four children, all under nine, were to uproot ourselves and move across the world. However, Dave’s parents agreed to follow us out, once we had a home together, so we put the house on the market and began the process of starting a new life. It was as though it was meant to be, the first people to view our home bought it plus all the furniture, emigration was no problem in those days and within three months, we were back in Canada.
Our new temporary home was in the hills of Anmore, a tiny rural community in the hills above Port Moody, about thirty miles from Vancouver. We arrived on November 1st and the six of us and our two dogs squeezed into the fourteen feet of trailer space. We enrolled the children in the small country school and Dave got a job at the second placed he tried. It all went unbelievably smoothly and we began our new life with lots of hope for our future..