Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Why I'm Taking My Daughter to Live in LA; One Mother on the Nightmare of Moving from London to America (Twice) with Her Young Child in Tow

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Why I'm Taking My Daughter to Live in LA; One Mother on the Nightmare of Moving from London to America (Twice) with Her Young Child in Tow

Article excerpt

Byline: TILLY BAGSHAWE

MY daughter Sefi and I first moved to Los Angeles two years ago in an ill-fated attempt at nuclear familyship with my long-term American boyfriend, Robin. It had taken six months of unadulterated stress to arrange the move. I had to get a job transfer and visas for us both, find a school and a nanny for Sefi, now 10, sell my London flat and rent a place in LA.

We finally moved in December 2000. By April, we were on a plane back home. I had barely begun unpacking the boxes before disaster struck. The job was horrendously stressful, Sefi was struggling at school and my relationship was on the point of collapse. When I got back to England I took nine months off work just to recover from the whole nightmare.

Despite this disastrous experience, Robin, a financier, and I had kept up a transatlantic relationship until last Christmas. By then, after five years together, I knew I wanted to get married and have some more children. He simply couldn't cope with that commitment and we finally split up - I believed for good.

But the course of true love never runs smoothly.

A few weeks ago, he turned up on my doorstep and proposed. My friends think I am insane to go back to him, but I always was a sucker for romance. And so it is that I find myself about to enter Groundhog Day - and do it all again.

The first, and most pressing, problem will be Sefi's schooling.

When we first moved to California, my preconceptions of the American education system were wholly negative. My daughter's image of US school life involved a heady mix of vampire-slaying and leaning against one's locker in full makeup while people shouted things like "You go, girlfriend!" The reality, needless to say, was somewhat different.

Academic standards at most LA private schools are, in fact, high. (If you don't want your child frisked at the gates for drugs or guns then public school is not an option). But the pressure to succeed is also formidable.

Often I would get in from the office exhausted at nine o'clock to find poor little Sef still slumped despondently over her Spanish homework. Her school bag was so heavy I had to take her to a back specialist for the pain.

For anyone who has struggled to get a child into their school of choice in London, believe me, in LA things are 20 times harder. With parents who are willing, and able, to donate a Lear jet or a baseball stadium to the best schools for the chance to pass Steven Spielberg their script after the fathers' race, it can be almost impossible for "ordinary" families to secure an interview.

My first call will be to Diane, the very sweet, deeply Californian relocation agent who patiently helped me through the minefield last year.

Relocation agencies help with everything from schools to visa lawyers and house-hunting, and their advice is invaluable. …

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