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Another School Year Has Begun

September marked the fifth year of schooling in the UK for the Kriebel kids. Five years already. They went back to school a couple weeks ago and while I'm always excited to see what a new year bring to them, it makes me a bit sad to see them growing so quickly and beginning to leave the nest.

HENRY



Believe it or not, Henry has started year 7 (or middle school for my American friends). Seriously! WTF! How is he already so grown up?

He's moved to a new school, which means making new friends, finding his way around what must look a massive place. He has settled in well. He meets a friend everyone morning (at the wine shop because that's how his friends identify where they live) and they walk to school together. Henry attends the same school as Elizabeth, so they see each other several times a day and often walk home together. Having her there has surely helped him settle in.

Each school has new rules. It takes adjustment. It takes learning. It takes courage. And Henry has shown all of those qualities.

OSCAR & ELIZABETH

The twins would not allow themselves to be filmed or photographed for this article. They are entering their last year of high school before heading to Uni next year. They've been in separate schools for the first time these past two years. Oscar goes to a "college" and Elizabeth goes to a Sixth Form school. Sixth Form is scheduled more like a normal school day, whereas a college is much more flexible with classes spread throughout the week, kind of like you get at university.

We're starting the process of looking at schools for them to continue their education. Oscar is focused on going to school in the Netherlands (I would never have thought I'd say that five years ago) and Elizabeth is looking to head back to the States.

Once we hit the five year mark of living in the UK, we can apply for indefinite leave to remain. Essentially, we've been here long enough (and paid enough in taxes) that we no longer need a visa to live here. We'll then start the process of citizenship. This means the kids get reduced tuition while studying in the UK or in Europe and the saving are substantial.

MICHAEL

Now this is where things get sad and sappy. We dropped Michael off at his apartment in Southampton (on the south coast of England) on September 7th. He starts classes the week of the 23rd. We helped him get his things into his room, had lunch and gelato, and then we were off. Oscar wanted to come along to help and say his goodbyes to Michael. Henry came along too, but he didn't have a choice. The three of us took the train, while Beth drove with Michael and his things.


He didn't shush us away, but he was ready for us to go so that he could get his place set up the way he wanted. I instantly missed him.

The house seems much quieter with him, even though he wasn't noisy. I'm sure the other kids miss him too.

Almost 19 years ago, a little boy came into our lives and now he's left. His future is now in his own hands and he's ready for a fresh start and to find his own way through life. He's spent the last couple weeks looking for a job and making new friends. He's certainly been enjoying his new found freedom.

I was given advice by my counselor to let him be. He'll call when he needs something or when he wants to chat. We need to give him space and let him grow into the man he wants to be. And this is hard. In fact, it sucks not seeing him at home every day. It's part of being a parent and we need to be proud and support him. 

Life is tough and throws challenges our way every day. Some are easy to handle, some are not. And every opportunity allows me to grow as well. I can only hope that the kids see how I seek out self-improvement and do the same for themselves. Seeing Michael go to university is another one opportunity to change.

Michael will be missed. Surely he'll come back soon, even just to do his laundry.

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