I am a fan of the geographical cure. When the going gets tough, I leave town. Thirteen years ago, I took my kids to Norway for four months to flee from a divorce. I was sad, muddled and confused. The runaway tactic worked. While living in an attic in dark and drizzly Scandinavia, I had a lot of time to think.
After my tourist visa expired, I got my single mom sh*t together, moved back with my kids to a new city and got myself a job after being a stay-at-home mom for the seven years. The distance helped me make these decisions, as did being in a country where I didn’t understand the language. I sat in soup cafes in Bergen, terribly alone. Norway cured me.
There isn’t a lot of space in real life to just think. I have to claw and dig out that space. I take a milder version of my Norway Cure on a regular basis. For me, it helps to add a couple of extra days when I’m speaking at conferences. I wander the streets of Melbourne or Toronto or San Francisco on my own, and come back home with a clearer head, and with a greater appreciation for my family. This is a good thing.
We schedule regular breaks for Aaron, too. He has been in a school setting since he was two years old. (Contrast that to my eldest son, who skipped preschool altogether and showed up, at age 5, for kindergarten). Aaron got government funding to have an aide to accompany him to preschool, so I bundled him up and off he went. At age 10, he’s already been in school for eight years.
I know his teachers schedule breaks during the school day for him. It is hard for him to sit still and ‘behave’ for six hours every day. It wears him down, and after a few weeks without a break, I sense he is unravelling. I get calls from the school. I end up in school meetings, where I cry. The system wears all of us down.
So every few weeks, we pull Aaron from school. Sometimes we hang around in bed in our pajamas, play board games, sneak off to movies and go for pho. If we are lucky enough, we get on a plane and disappear for a few days. (Note: this option requires the privilege of having both time and money). I adjust to Aaron’s pace, which is slow. I purposely don’t drag him around, ticking off to-do lists.
We just returned from five days in Disneyland and San Diego. It was a quick little trip, but it was brimming with anticipation. In D-land, Aaron’s professed favourite ride was the last ride he just was on. He lives gloriously in the moment (save for planning for his next meal), and defaults to fun. That dose of Aaron time was just what the doctor ordered.