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“Every time you make soup it gets better.” This is the type of backhanded compliment my children give me. I have been making a crockpot meal, usually a soup, once a week since school started up in September. I find it makes the extra busy days easier, except for that one day when I came home to discover that I had not turned on the slow cooker- a danger of living in a place where you also have to switch on the individual power socket.

Pinterest has been a constant source of inspiration in this regard and we have stumbled upon some really delicious recipes. Is there anything better on a cold rainy day than coming home to the smell of a hearty soup? Or the feeling of accomplishment at having supper sorted so early? It is times like these that I give myself a little pat on the back and say, “thank you past self, for being so organized.” My children bring me back to reality pretty quickly. Mr. G is always asking, “do I like this?” His dad and I answer, “of course you do!” He then replies, “you are wrong.” He is a charming child. He takes after his father. Both of them could do with a healthy dose of Britishness and just say, “it’s lovely,” even if they hate something. That’s how I was raised.

It is true though- the fact that we get better. Through experiencing life and practicing, things become easier. Sometimes we are too busy or the increments of improvement are slight, so we don’t notice. Last week was full of very grey rainy days (this week has not been much better), and my energy and mood were low. As the sun broke through, I instantly felt lighter and remembered that I need to start using my SAD lamp at this time of year. I am still not great with mornings, but we have not been late for school once this fall because I am better at them. I can enjoy playing Bach or singing Schubert because I have practiced my craft and continue to do so. Writing this right now is easier than it was years ago because of all the time I have spent in expressing myself through words. I have learned to be a more attentive parent through Autism courses, through reading, and through practice. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Mindfulness have improved how I take care of myself. I can put on a full face of makeup in five minutes because it makes me happy and because I have been practicing for years. And let’s not forget that my soup is “getting better.”

Living in England is easier than it used to be. I now understand how a cup of tea can solve all problems, if only by shifting your mindset and focusing on the comfort of a warm beverage and those you might share it with.

I now know to agree with whatever is said about the weather. If someone complains about snow or cold and then you say, “I love it,” what you are really doing is making an enemy for life. Same with queuing, although I have a unique situation every morning where I need to get back to my autistic less verbal son as quickly as possible so I encourage my twins to walk past the parents queuing and talking to the teachers every morning. This is why we will have to leave the country next year, I am sure that we will be deported for queuing infractions alone!

In my experience, I find that Canadians and the British discuss the weather and apologize in equal amounts. Both parties love to complain/moan about whatever weather we are experiencing at the moment. It’s boring. At least I can disagree in Canada and people will think that I am crazy rather than rude. I cannot help it. I love snow. The constant apologizing is obviously in our DNA as the only appropriate response I can come up with when someone bumps into me, is to say “sorry.”

Driving on the left on tiny roads has not been a concern for years now. When I initially started driving here I found it extremely stressful, as you may remember. Thanks to the UK, I am now a better driver and when I go back and drive in Canada everything feels easy. The roads are huge and the parking spots plentiful and large. You don’t have to navigate cars parked on both sides of a road and communicate with oncoming drivers about who will go first down the centre of the road which will now only fit one car- this is basically all I do as I drive here. I find it novel if I encounter an intersection as it’s nearly exclusively roundabouts. I may have become a bit smug now that I have driven the Swindon Magic Roundabout and lived to tell the tale.

My children are British. They just are. They have Gloucestershire/Canadian accents, and they know and use all the British lingo. When they go to school in Canada and ask for a *rubber I will expect a call from their teachers. They do draw(R)ings, go to the cinema(R) and drink an ICEE, wear trousers with pants underneath, have bogeys in their noses, eat toma(H)toes, wear wellies, drink tea, eat biscuits (of the cookie variety), play football and rugby, are arranged into houses at school just like Harry Potter, are obsessed with handwriting, love mathS, find Wally (rather than Waldo), read a lot of Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton, wear uniforms to school with little old man dress shoes, eat hot lunches every day at school and call them dinners, love custard more than is sensible, use words like sensible, call dessert pudding, do not know what jello is but enjoy a jelly, tell me that they are poorly, attend discos and fayres and pantos, always order fish and chips or sausage and chips, play in our back garden, pick blackberries, enjoy trifle and eton mess and sticky toffee pudding, put out mince pies for Father Christmas, eat Monster Munch, learn about religion at school, learn about the monarchy at school, and ask me if I am very cross (if they are asking, I most likely am).

Recently, a discussion with friends turned to how fast time is going. It was acknowledged that in awful moments, time seems to slow down. So perhaps this beautiful fleeting nature of time is not a curse, but a gift. We are enjoying ourselves for the most part, and this English adventure continues to bring us joy. Even now as the rain is literally pouring down outside my window and I contemplate all the chores I must squeeze in before I pick up the children from school, I am grateful. Grateful that we can get better at life and at making soup.

*A rubber is an eraser in England. In Canada it is a condom.

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