If We Had Stayed

Sometimes when we sit around the table at dinner time, my family and I play the ‘if’ game. (We always seem to play when it is mid-February and the temperature outside is below -20!)

The game always starts with the sentence, “What if we had never left South Africa to move to Toronto.”

  • We would have spent more time outside (remember this game is always played mid-winter!).
  • We would not have experienced living in cold, snowy climes.
  • We would have had to drive the children everywhere. They certainly would not have gone out with their friends as they do now.
  • We would have lived in the suburbs in a house with an outdoor pool.
  • We would have spent more time with family – siblings, cousins, grandparents.
  • We would have driven everywhere. Now we walk a lot: to the supermarket, to the subway station, to work.
  • My daughters would have gone to a private school. Instead now they attend a very good public school within walking distance of where we live.
  • My daughters would have had to learn Afrikaans – and they would not have learned to speak French.
  • We would not have used the public transport system – which in Johannesburg is very poor. Now we go everywhere using the TTC (Toronto’s public transit system). We love it! The trains and buses are frequent; and we do not have to stress when driving in a busy city.
  • I would have had a different work experience. In Toronto, my teaching experience is so much more than what I experienced in Johannesburg. The school board I now work for has a lot more supports in place for teachers than the school board I used to work for – and I currently work at a school that has many resources available to me.
  • My husband would not have had the experience of working at a large international company.

Often when we play this game, my husband and I feel nostalgic for the lifestyle we lived in South Africa. We do miss the good weather and our loved ones whom we left behind. But we remind ourselves of why we left. And, when we look at the positive experiences our children have had and their successes, we know we made the right choice.

Do you play the ‘if’ game?Β 

Β© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This post is linked to Frank’s If Challenge. You are invited to join in and write a post of your own. The post can be in any format: a poem, an artistic impression, a commentary. Once you have written your post, you can share your post on Frank’s page.Β 

29 thoughts on “If We Had Stayed

  1. Cheers to playing along by sharing a personal reflection. That was a BIG move for you in many ways. Bigger than most of us can imagine. Thanks for sharing!


  2. What a great post, Colline. If I had had the courage to leave the family home and go travelling, I would not have waited until the ripe ‘ole age of 52 to finally make it to Tuscany πŸ˜‰
    The “If” game can be bittersweet, can’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. we never really think about what if – just cannot – but I guess it could be nice to think of it – especially the way you do it.
    If I think about if we never left Denver of San Jose I do not feel like I have a complete enough of a picture to really compare – or maybe because my what if’s feel like I cannot imagine them – do you know what I mean?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sometimes I think we do this to encourage ourselves to get over the hurdle of winter, or missing family. The change of moving from a country in the Southern Hemisphere to one in the northern was quite a big change, and one that took a little getting used to. I think if we had stayed in South Africa and moved to another part of the country, we would not have had discussions like we sometimes now do.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. oh yes, I can fully see this – and it seems like you do it in the right way = to also stir up gratitude and to remember “heritage” and not forget “roots” at the same time.
        so very well done….

        and for me – I would just have to watch it because a few times when I looked back with what if – my spouse would ay “you cannot know that for sure” – but that is not the way you were reflecting back – mine was sometimes the grass would be greener

        Liked by 1 person

          1. yes – and that is why you did it so well….
            and enjoyed the list –
            and side note – a lady I know from yoga class was feeling all down that she had never lived out side the state – it reminded me how we all have different things in life – and while one “wants” to maybe travel – some of us “had” to – well for different reasons…

            Liked by 1 person

    1. It was quite a move – we are on the other side of the world from our relatives. And we can never know for sure where our children will be in 20 years- such is the way of modern society.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I could feel for you with every line you’ve written. Moving to a new place; especially, with children can be overwhelming. But, then, the positive begin to rise and it begins to feel like our old place.
    Thoughtful reflections … I like where you took aFrank’s challenge. I also like the question game. I think I’ll do that with them next time they come for a visit down south from up north.
    Isadora 😎


    1. Now I do not want to leave Canada – I have grown accustomed to the place 😊
      The game we play have helped the children understand, I think, the sacrifices and changes we made to give them better opportunities than we had – or they would have had. It certainly makes our family grateful for what we have.


  5. Great game idea that involves all the family, obviously will awaken nostalgic memories, maybe you could alternate the game with one called ‘What Has’ to bring the benefits of moving to the fore, cheers.


    1. The game we play does bring the benefits of our move to the fore – while it reminds us what made us move in the first place. The conversation always ends with our children saying, “We are are grateful for …” πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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