Ben Gunn

Eyes on Quest again. How am I going to coordinate Lu doing school? Since she’s been in mainstream, I haven’t had much involvement in her schoolwork. Then we had a go at helping her with her English homework and I wanted to run away screaming. That’s not a good start. Actually thinking about it, that’s how our schoolwork did start. Back in 2015 we’d just reached Madeira and it started raining non-stop. It poured brown soil down the mountains. A little bit boat-bound but I thought, no worries – we can get some school under our belts. Boy oh boy. No one wanted to do any work. I discovered the enormous slap that I wasn’t interchangeable being a mum and a teacher.

So, what’s changed since then? I’ve learned how to bend the ball with Delph so school is very close to being fun. Almost. Lulu’s school work though has always been ‘grit your teeth and get it done’. She doesn’t like being told what to do but also tends to give up. It’s an unfortunate combo if you’re trying to teach her. We’ve never been kicked out of a Caribbean cafe but there have been some interesting moments.

Of course I can pretend to describe it utopian. Like a Daily Mail ‘we sailed away and lived the dream’ kind of article. I read one just this morning. The article was about this work-oriented couple who left London, sailed off and had three children while away. One child was almost born on a bus in Mexico. For the kids, still very young, their mum acknowledges that they are probably less academically-orientated than their peers back home. But adventure makes up for it. ‘If she was at school in England,’ the mum is quoted, ‘she’d probably be more advanced with her handwriting. But would she know as much about whale sharks?’

Fair point. I read this this morning like I never tried something similar. I suppose I’m not a natural at it – being a proper hippie. An adventurer. I’m more like ‘let’s explore the world and do our homework at the same time’ kind of a person. It just doesn’t have that cool knack to it. The Daily Mail would be scratching their heads with that type of article. ‘Tell you what,’ they’d say, ‘go have some actual fun and then give us a call.’ Travel and conventional study doesn’t, on the face of it, go together at all.

I’m a travelling nerd. When Jack and I spent a working year in Australia in 2000, I dragged around a ton of Zoology textbooks. I was in my early twenties. We couldn’t give lifts to anyone else travelling round Australia because my books took up all the room in the back seat of our car. Oops.

Now, I realise that I want our kids to keep up with the UK National Curriculum while they’re on the beach in Barbados. Finish their history essay after scuba diving in the BVI. Solve this week’s maths equations as we’re anchoring up in Grenada. It’s one of those moments Grandpa used to say to us – ‘Don’t tell people cause they won’t believe you.’ I know; hands up. Makes no sense at all.




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