Raising on Rum

As this year draws to a close we’re starting to think about next year; what we’d like to achieve, which direction our lives should head in next. 2012 has been another amazing year for us and we know that 2013 will bring yet more changes and new paths. New friends, new challenges, new lessons.

January has always seen us sit down as a family and talk about what we want to get out of the year ahead. What new things we want to learn, new experiences we hope to have, dreams we’d like to realise. In preparation for that we’ve been talking about bucket list type stuff the last few days. Although we all love our life here on Rum and probably already have more than enough adventure and life living here just in our day to day existence we’ve been talking about sights we’d like to see, experiences we’d love to have and stuff we’d love to tick off our personal lists of ‘one day I’d love to…’ and found that there are a fair few which make it onto all four of our lists. We’d all love to see the northern lights, see a blue whale, swim with dolphins. It’s very exciting that a fair few of the things on our lists could well happen right here where we live already and certainly another sign that we are in the right place.

Both Dragon and Star have a lot of travel based ambitions and I am hoping they retain that wanderlust and head off on many globe trotting adventures in years to come. Infact it is these lists that I am encouraging them to use as the basis for what direction they take their young lives in next. As I’ve said before we don’t work towards formal qualifications or curricula, choosing instead to follow passions, interests and what comes up in life as we go along to shape what gets learned but a list of hopes, dreams and ambitions is a really good place to start in shaping what happens next and which way to head in the general direction of. It is these sorts of discussions and creations of lists that led us to head off WWOOFing in 2011 and brought us to our croft on Rum in 2012. I think that being able to come up with a list of what you really want and then finding the best possible fit for achieving that is the very best way of shaping what direction to head in and how to get there, even if it’s ever evolving and changing and growing and is an organic working document with the allowance to change your mind as you go along!

Star remains wildlife, nature and animal focussed. She wants to ride an elephant, swim with dolphins, see lions, tigers, penguins and polar bears in the wild. These ambitions alone would take her to every corner of the globe. She continues to devour every single thing David Attenborough says, films or puts his name to. Next year she is hoping to get even more hands on with livestock of her own and learn more about the island wildlife from the various experts here on Rum. She is already doing a Junior Ranger programme and I know she is keen to learn more from the Red Deer research project and the National Nature Research team. Sealife tours will continue to be part of our life next summer and she intends spending more time in the rivers and on the beaches.

Dragon is starting to think about income generation and buoyed by positive feedback from his Christmas card range and drawings of local scenery he and I are looking at some artistic business opportunities for the coming year. We’ve been talking marketing, packaging, set up costs, materials and pricing for his time. At worst he’ll begin to have a grasp of profit and loss, cash flow and business planning. At best he’ll be starting up his own small business doing something he loves and learning as he goes. His plans are all travel related – and very much based on the wonders of the world – natural and man made. Great buildings, bridges, monuments, natural phenomena and spectacles. He is brimming over with ideas for stories, illustrations and artistic creations.

Both children are now in that middle age of double figures but not quite teens where challenges in parenting shift and alter again. The toddler issues of sleeping through the night, saying please and thank you, toilet training and not running off in crowded places have passed. The teen issues of sex and drugs and rock n roll are yet to be reached. Here we have a whole extra dimension meaning the usual issues of road safety, stranger danger, internet protocol are just not on our agenda. Instead we have children who are in many ways more responsible, able to be left alone to feed themselves and find productive things to do, trusted to feed the animals, keep the woodburner alight, get the kettle on and made a cup of tea for us while we’re working that their peers might be. Sometimes mini adults, their lives so closely lived alongside ours with no stresses about homework, what trainers are coolest to wear to school and limited screen time, other times still childish where their same aged mainland, schooled equivalents may not be, happy to play imaginary games with their lego for hours on end. Who knows who they would have been if their lives had been more mainstream. They only know how to be themselves.

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