[Note: I’ve decided to forfeit Flashback Friday for a Current Friday post this week. Why? Well, why not? So, let’s get started.]
The whole time our house was on the market Ian showed nothing but excitement over the prospect of moving to a new house. Recently, after dragging he and Elena around to Sunday open houses had become a bit of the norm, we even found a way to keep him engaged that he seemed to really like: We’d have him rate each house on a scale of 1 to 10. Oddly enough, each house either seemed to be a 1 or a 10. A man of extremes, I suppose. Anyway, the point is that he’s been really on board with this whole moving thing. Of course, that was before September 7. (Also known as the first day of kindergarten.)
Today I picked up Ian from school and when we got home, it was just he and I as Jeff and Elena were not home yet. He was sitting on the stairs having me help him untie his double-knotted shoes when I said, “Ian, you know that as of today this house is no longer our house.” He looked at me. “What??” “Well, Doug and Sara own our house now and we are paying them to let us live here for a while. It’s like we are just borrowing it from them.” This look of grave concern crossed his face. “Oh. Well, do we have a new place to live yet?” “No, not yet but we will.”
Suddenly he started crying. Right there on the stairs with me kneeling there next to him. And it was clear that this wasn’t his usual “fake crying.” It was the real deal. He seemed genuinely upset. And that made me sad. I asked him what was wrong and if he wanted to talk about it. But in reality, I already knew what was wrong. It’s exactly what I had feared. Once he started kindergarten, the whole game changed. He really felt a part of something now. He’s in elementary school, running out to the bus with the neighbors each morning and meeting up with his new friends at the “big” school.
He pulled himself together for a few seconds and out it came: “I don’t want to leave! I don’t want to move!” My heart dropped a bit. “Why?,” I asked, naively. “Because that means that I don’t get to live next to Jake and Alex and Rowan anymore!” [Sniff, sniff.] “And I won’t get to ride the bus with them!” [Sniff, sniff.] At this point, I’m pretty much feeling like the most heartless parent in America. I mean, how can we take our child away from this once-in-a-lifetime joy that he has found in his life? So, I tried to tell him that our neighbors really weren’t all that great, but he wasn’t buying it. I suspect it had something to do with that cute little puppy one of them just got.
Attempting to put a little spin on it, I tell him that one of the reasons we are moving is to find a nice place where there are lots of kids his age and hopefully he’ll make a some new friends. There may have been a slight eye roll then; I’m not sure.
Then we get to the real sticky part. “Well, I do like the new friends I’ve made at school and I’ll still get to go to my same classroom and see all of them, right?” “Um….yeah…hey, you know, you haven’t asked what we are having for dinner yet!” Fortunately, the talk of food worked like the charm I knew it would and we slipped away from the topic that I knew would be a real heartbreaker of likely changing schools. And, he will make new friends just like he did only last week for crying out loud! But still, I couldn’t help but be a bit sad right along with him. Partly sad to see my son feeling so sad (which Ian doesn’t genuinely do that often) and partly sad at the reality that we’d be moving on from our second home at some point. Plus, I happen to be a big fan of his elementary school already, too. I mean, it’s super cute so what’s not to like?
But the bottom line is that though it was certainly our choice to go down this path, when it comes down to it, each home you have holds its own special place for your family as you journey through life together. For us, this has been our first real home in Portland. The first home that Ian really remembers and the first home that we brought Elena home to and where she lived the first couple of years of her life. It’s a little sad to know it’s not ours anymore. And that’s okay. A little strange right now, maybe, but it’s all good and the next one will hold just as many – probably even more – memories. But it’s still significant, nonetheless.
Kids are amazingly resilient, but I understand the disappointment he’s feeling right now. Might I suggest that kindergarten has him tired, which tends to make kids extra emotional as well? Anna has been LOSING it over tiny little things, and I think it’s largely due to fatigue.
BTW: Nice evasion tactic there, Mama!
The same thing happened to us when we moved earlier this year…and I agree, Kindergarten exhaustion is definitely playing a role! It will all work out, I have no doubt.
It IS significant — with mixed emotions for all of you (except maybe Elena, who probably will just go with the flow, whatever it is). Ian will have at least a few months to adjust to the idea and to get excited about a new house as you do your house hunting. But I know it is hard now — and painful for you to see your son upset like that. Adapting to change is an important part of growing up (Ian, not you :>) — though I guess we all continue to “grow up” our entire lives). You handled the situation well!