Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Our expat child. Is he home or on holiday?

The teenage boy is here in Dubai this week for the Easter holidays. He turns 16 next week and on his return to the UK he has his GCSE's lined up ahead of him.

He left South Africa in August 2013 to finish his education in a UK boarding school and comes back for the major holidays. His last trip home was to move with us from South Africa to Dubai in December, but our house wasn't ready, our visa's delayed and furniture in storage so we stayed in a hotel and his older brother joined us.

This is the teens first visit to our new home. He has a bedroom, we've made the bed with his bedding and brought out of storage his personal items, toys, photo's, beach clothing and ornaments. He had seen the house before the repairs had been done and cleaned, but he says it feels like a home, just not his home anymore.

This makes me sad, but I also understand his reasoning. School is where he has his own room, he is fed, his clothes are washed and ironed, his friends are there. His routines, the boarding staff know his preferences as he has grown and matured, they are the ones who parent him these days.

I want his visits home to be enjoyable, I want him to feel like this is his home, I don't want to nag him, but I want to parent him, I want to do some fun things with him, catch up on the missing months. He knows this and prefers to go down the route of parting me with my money and getting the balance right is important.

He needed new clothes, shoes and a suit for his prom, he wangled a new camera bag out of me and endless visits to cafes and restaurants. We've done a few touristy things, a ferry trip, the beach, the Burj Khalifa. We've also played monopoly, trivial pursuits, planted the garden, walked the dog, watched movies.

We have a week left. As a teenager he doesn't want to be out with mum all the time, the activities such as Wild Wadi, SkyDive Dubai all cost a small fortune and he has no one to experience these activities with, no friends here.

We pay school fees, pocket money, flights back to visit us, we aren't on holiday and neither is he really. He's asked if he can have a few days at 'home' just to chill out and relax, which is what he elder brothers did at his age when they lived at home and we were in the UK.

This is his home, it's where his parents are, where we live, work, play. But it's not his home in the conventional way and even if we moved back to the UK, he'd remain in boarding school so not to interrupt a settled routine that is working for him, but at least when he came home he'd have a permanent room and regular stays.

But when he returns to the UK, his things will be packed up, the bedding changed and the room ready for the next visitor.


  1. Sad

    Will he study in uk fir his a levels

    1. yes he will stay on for his A levels as he's doing a CISCO (software) course, which although they run in Dubai with his Dyslexia they've advised he should stay where he is