Two years ago, we came to Phuket for Georgina's football trials with Cruzeiro, a top Brazilian club which was setting up a soccer academy in Asia. We stayed for the weekend and had a lovely time. On the way back to the airport on Sunday night, we stopped at this beach, Nai Thon beach. We had an early dinner in a seafront cafe and watched the sunset. We were so happy that day, one of our thousands with her.
She is our much-loved youngest child and her passion is football. So we took the momentous decision to move countries for her. Her father gave up his well-paid job, and we moved into a simple, sunny house near the beach in Phuket.
She is such a happy, sunny child. She wakes up excited about life. Today, Friday, she has football practice after school and then she is going to a girl pal's house for dinner after that. But chatting animatedly to us, she said she might have dinner at school first because she loves the 'free' food - an extensive salad bar and apple pie with real cream, yum! - and the boarders typically order in pizzas every Friday night.
"Don't drink too much!" Her father joked. "You have football practice tomorrow morning."
"I don't need alcohol to be happy," she retorted.
She is indeed a joyous and joyful child, sunny all the way through. Her first years were spent in Portsmouth, less than 500 metres from her grandparents' home. Apart from her siblings, she had cousins around her. She went to Story Time Nursery, and the principal is Mrs. Janet Josephine Storey, seen here. I don't think they did much reading and writing, just lots of French, playing outdoors (even in winter) and being read to endlessly.
She has a gift for maths, but we did not pursue that. In school, when she should have been in the Gifted & Talented programme, she was kicking a football around in the hot sun. She could have done much better at school, but for a girl who couldn't read until she was eight, we were happy with where she was. She couldn't draw and she couldn't play musical instruments, though she occasionally strums the guitar alongside her rocker dad, but that's OK. Those afternoons were filled with her howls of laughter, curious questions and sunny energy.
She played football in the midst of exams, she went on a little holiday with us and a little party here and there too; life went on as normal. But incredibly, she sailed through her IGCSEs with a very respectable number of A's and A*'s. Even if she hadn't, it wouldn't have mattered, really. Her eternal sunshine and positivity would have seen her through the darkest days and highest mountains just fine.
First published in www.raisinghappystrongkids.com