As you might expect, taking two little ones from New Zealand to New York was not a small decision. Or a cheap one. Well over six figures just for the course fees, apartment rent and compulsory insurance. Not the sort of money we have just lying around.
Back in 2012 I met a Russian in a London club who was apparently wearing a £60,000 watch. Normally I would call yarn on such a claim, but he was also drinking from a £1000 magnum of French champagne. If I had been planning ahead I could have just asked him for the watch knowing he probably had a dozen of them, though it would have looked a bit conspicuous on me considering I somehow got in wearing Top Shop chinos and shoes I’d only bought that day because I was informed shorts and jandals (flip flops) were inappropriate attire in Chelsea.
On reflection I should have anticipated that five years on we would have two kids and be planning a move to NY instead of paying off our hefty mortgage. But to be honest I probably wouldn’t have sold the watch to cover this adventure. I would have sold it to buy a boat.
I still don’t have a boat.
Anyway, the opportunity to live in NY was always going to be one we could not pass up. Life is for living, after all. In the end we made a very simple decision. If BB got a scholarship, any scholarship, we would go. She got two. Enough to cover the fees. The rest was on us (aka the bank).
So that left one question: should I seek employment? The real question being: how much is childcare? To cut a long story short, I couldn’t stomach paying $30k for an 18-hour week without a guarantee that Hurricane and Chaos emerged fluent in the Latin languages, or at least stopped playing hide the poo (a story for another time).
And that is how I became tasked with being the primary caregiver of two preschoolers in a city and country I had never set foot in before. I have of course looked after the two of them on my own previously. For a weekend. Two weekends actually. Three consecutive nights on one of those occasions. And the worst thing that happened was Chaos dropped a nugget on the carpet. She wasn’t hiding it. It was a post-bath deposit. Her favourite kind.
When it came time to start telling friends and colleagues of our plan, the reaction was pretty well split down gender lines. Women thought I was awesome. They told me so. ‘What a great guy’, they would say. I would nod in agreement. Amen, sister.
My mates held a different view. Laughter was common, followed by phrases like ‘good luck’ or a line of expletives that I don’t think my Grandmother would like to see written down. My own family were both amused and delighted for us. Amused because my sisters, in particular, still like to think of me as a teenager trapped in an incredibly sophisticated man’s body. Delighted because they all love the unknown and the inevitable hilarity it can deliver.
My parents have spent the past decade as what you would traditionally term missionaries, using their medical and pastoral skills to help the poor firstly in Cambodia and now in Moldova (Google it). They are adventurous. I figure if they’re prepared to learn the Cyrillic alphabet and basic Romanian at 60, then I should be able to handle a couple of little nutters for a year in a concrete jungle. Surely. Right?