This week on our little finca we have had visitors – a Danish/Norwegian world schooling family who is traveling Europe for a year came by to visit us.
A few months ago I joined the Facebook group World Schoolers because friends of mine told me it would be a great way of connecting to other home schoolers across the globe and maybe make connection with expats who home school down here in Spain – make connections with people travelling through the area. After a short while in the group I offered up my place as a possible stop for people on the road. My conditions were: You can “camp in my garden” for free if you clean up after yourself, you can stay in our house for free if you participate in chores, and we will pay for food too if you participate in projects (if we have any projects going on at the moment). The response was overwhelming! I received tons of response to my post and I received numerous PM’s from people asking if they could stop by. This week our first visitors arrived.
A family of 5: Mom and dad, two boys around my sons age and a girl a little younger than my girl. They had told me in advance that they would love to participate in any projects we had going on. Since they would only be staying a couple of days I decided to ask them to help me finish our rabbit colony, so that we can finally move the rabbits out of our house.
The twos days they were here the kids played and played and played, and we went for a long walk up the mountain, and we talked and talked and talked, and we cooked A LOT – and while I was gone on errands in town they put netting on the rabbit cage – I did not participate at all (Marcus did a little when he wasn’t working).
It is one of those times where the gift of our lifestyle just shines: The kids could play for hours on end, they didn’t have to worry about bedtimes or school (even our 1,5 hour art class on Wednesday felt a little disruptive to the whole flow of their play). The boys played with LEGOs for hours on end, and then video-games, and then outside in the sun, and then back to LEGO, and then some more video-games. The girls would dress up, and put on makeup, and make blanket forts on the terrace, and listen to a grown-up reading Astrid Lingreen stories, and jumping on the trampoline – and really only sit down when they were too tired to play anymore. That we can just do this without having much planning around it, that we can just get this help with the rabbit cage, that the kids can just meet other kids from the other end of Europe and play non-stop except for sleeping and eating for two days straight is such a gift. And once again my children shared their toys and their room with complete strangers and there was no conflict to speak of. It is something that I have become accustomed to, even something I expect when my children meet other children, but that other people point out to me: These kids play for hours on end with practically no conflict, and if there is any they are usually able to solve these conflicts themselves, through negotiation. Mostly the grownups are only needed if someone falls and hits themselves, or when hunger and fatigue hits. This of course also means that we are more needed when the guests have gone home – because the attachment needs of the children don’t go away just because they have friends over for two days – so after they left we spent a few days reading stories and snuggling on the sofa. But the fact that having friends over doesn’t mean more work for us, actually less – we can easily have adult time, and carry adult conversations, is such a gift.
(I finally decided to delete my facebook account – I have long had concerns about privacy but this article finally did it for me: http://www.salimvirani.com/facebook/ – the result though has been that I lost the pictures our hosts took of all our children playing – so you will have to imagine those for the time being. Hopefully she will send them to me on e-mail).