This has prompted in me a range of emotions, and each day I oscillate from excited to nervous to regretful to quite sad. This is a reflection of the challenges, opportunities and joy felt since we moved here in July 2012.
Take my son Jack as an example. Jack turned 4 the week we arrived. He has spastic quadraplegic cerebral palsy with dystonia. He needs assistance or intervention to do most things from the neck down. He requires specialised furniture, a wheelchair, walker, footwear, commode, bike, stroller and physical therapy. We left a very supportive family, friends, medical and therapy network to come to a country where wheelchair access is haphazard and experienced therapists difficult to find. The sight of a child in a wheelchair or walker is rare, especially in the small farming and mining community where we live.
We weren't sure if we were being brave or just plain irresponsible about our son's health and potential. In fact I'm pretty sure there were many who thought the latter.
One of the driving factors for us, assuming we could address Jack's physical needs, was the opportunity to integrate both Jack and his little sister Nellie into the modest, local school and experience French language immersion in a mixed group of cultures. There have been some frustrations with organising an aide, plus access within a school not used to wheelchairs, but it has paid off in ways I couldn't have imagined before. We have discovered a community intrigued and surprised by Jack, but proud to include him in their number.
It's his ability with picking up French which constantly delights us as parents. His accent is delightful. His confidence defies his genes. And he just plain enjoys it. Bliss.
This morning out of the blue, he sang me a Christmas song he learnt at school. I asked him to sing it again so I could record it and share.The next challenge is how to retain and build on this lovely new skill he has once we leave the island....