Monday, May 14, 2007

The anatomy of a decision

It took well over a week, and it was a tortuous week at that, but I did finally arrive at a decision yesterday. I was hoping all week that suddenly the "right" answer, or maybe I should say the most comfortable answer, would suddenly be revealed to me. That's the way these things often work. All of a sudden you just know what you should do. But this time, in this the hardest decision I've made, it wasn't happening.

And then, in the cliche to end all cliches, it came to me while I was sitting in church yesterday. It had nothing to do with anything going on around me. I think it was just time to pick a side.

On Saturday night, I talked to my friend Anne. Anne did her French language training just before going on maternity leave. She didn't enjoy it. She's also the person I know who did it most recently and so I wanted her take on it. She enlightened me on a few things that I didn't know and reminded me of a few things I'd forgotten.

The language training taught to employees of the government is "taught to the test," which means that the instructors are, logically I guess, teaching you in a way to pass the levels tests. The tests are multiple choice and done on computer, except for the oral testing. Anne came out of the training getting a C level in writing (very high) and not being able to write a paragraph. A year after finishing the training, she felt she couldn't speak French at all because she hadn't used it.

My plan, as you know, would have been to do the training and then go on unpaid leave while the girls get to the end of Kindergarten. My French would be gone by then, even if I used it occasionally with them or around the city. Added to that is that you have to retest ever 5 years. So, if I took 5 years off then I would still be faced with applying for jobs without my French or having to retest soon after I started a new job, and likely have to retrain anyway. So, why miss out on the year with the girls when the training would just have to be repeated and be a very frustrating process anyway, as it would not be giving me what I really wanted: true bilingualism?

After talking to Anne, I thought about it the rest of the night, but the answer was becoming more obvious. Sitting in church beside Emily, I turned to her and said: Emily, is it okay if you don't go to Mimi's school next year and we just stay home instead? She said: Yes, I want dat.

As soon as I decided that, the knot in the pit of my stomach went away, my shoulders relaxed and I felt really, supremely happy. During the week, when I briefly decided (a few times) that I was going back, I felt tense, anxious and sad. This was what I needed, this was the moment I was looking for, the sign that I made the right decision.

Thanks to everyone for all your comments. They were all read and mulled over and discussed here in our house.

Now we start living like students again. And probably no Boston. It'll totally be worth it.


Anonymous said...

Yeah for you! Congrats on making the decision. I wonder if Emily will ever know how much her words mean to you (c:

Anonymous said...

I don't know why, but I am feeling like a relief as well :-) Good to hear you are happy again!

Shan said...

That's great Karen, I'm happy for you.

little b said...

yay for a decision. and with the information about retesting and how the course is actually taught, it totally makes sense.

and it makes the decision about christmas - we'll come there. remember, you're living like students. I won't get any maternity leave pay, but my pay isn't worth much in the first place!