Simon and Charlotte-Rose are two of my favourite human beings.
Their mom is my twin sister, my other-half, my best friend.
From the moment we were born, we’ve done everything together! Our paths always been parallel to one another; until we were 17 – when she fell pregnant.
But wait! This isn’t your typical “Girl with the world at her feet falls pregnant, drops out of school, looks back one day and wishes she’d done it all differently” story.
This beautiful, brilliant sister of mine (who had just been elected Head Girl), went on to have a beautiful, healthy baby – Simon – half-way through our matric year. Without missing even a day of school, she juggled being a young, teen mom with finishing her matric – and succeeded, on both counts.
Fast forward a few years: I moved to the Big City after matric to study, leaving the picturesque seaside town where we grew up – and my family – behind.
(Our parents separated in 2003, which doesn’t make us unique – but anyone else who grew up in a broken home will know that the promise of “two Christmasses” and “two birthdays” really isn’t any consolation).
I’d moved in with our dad and was looking forward to making up for lost time. Then, with no warning, he died. One afternoon he went to sleep and didn’t wake up again.
Exactly a year later, Charlotte-Rose came into the world to take her place in all of our hearts.
Today, my sister (my hero) runs the family furniture removals business that got me through varsity without student loans, made sure all four of us could also be ‘those kids’ who received cars when we came of age – and that continues to support most of the family today. It’s been through working hard, together, that my mother and sister have made it all happen.
How lucky I am, to have such a loving, close-knit family! Naysayers and killjoys aside, my sister has had others in awe of her from the get go. If I have even a tenth of her poise and capability when I raise kids – even if I do do things “the right way around” – it will be an accomplishment.
Not a day goes by where I don’t catch myself thinking about how proud I am of my sister, and of my beautiful niece and nephew.
Here’s the part where you might come in…
Long story short, the pitfalls of becoming a parent so young are manifesting themselves. Though my sister and her now fiancé never once scoffed at those who said it would be difficult, no amount of “I Told You So’s” is going to pay the bills.
Small, coastal towns – while lovely for holiday time, are very quiet for the rest of the year. For a lot of their inhabitants, there simply isn’t enough money coming in – and going around – for everyone to enjoy the same level of privilege, all year round. Matriculants and 40-somethings alike compete for waitressing positions… Having not (yet) had the luxury of a tertiary education, neither of Simon & Charlie’s parents are earning enough to keep these beautiful children in the Montessori school that has helped mould them into the happy, brilliant little people they are.
Simon in particular is reaping the benefits of the Montessori methods of education – he’s a prime candidate for the holistic approach that is taken to his learning. As a family we feel that it would really be to his detriment to uproot him at this crucial stage in his childhood development – but without the funds, our hands are tied.
I have no qualms about asking for help. I’ve got nothing but the truth to share, and I know there’ll be those who don’t feel that this middle-class tin is deserving of their charity, and I don’t disagree. I am aware that there are many, many people with problems far worse than this. I’m fully cognizant of that fact. But, as the saying goes – ‘everyone is facing a battle of their own’ – and this is our battle.
Our dad taught us about the wheel being round. No matter what the circumstances, he was proof time and time again that what you give – you receive. I am appealing to anyone who can help us keep Simon and Charlie in Montessori schooling to do so. While it is certainly not a “one size fits all” system, those who have children who – or have themselves – experienced the virtues of a Montessori education will hopefully understand this plea. Whether you can put us in touch with potential sponsors or are willing to make a donation, no amount of help is too small.
In the meantime, we’ll continue to do our best. If this is not meant to be, and they have to move schools, so be it. But as far as this plea goes, well… nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Many thanks for your time.
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