Wednesday, 11 February 2015

THAT Conversation ..............

Most families with pre-teen age kids have some sort of bedtime routine. It's generally dinner, bath/shower, bed/read/lights out/sleep.

Depending on what time people (aka parents, older siblings) get home, there might be special time set aside for a chat about the days' events, or sharing a storybook.

Our routine with MissM has morphed from it being a shared parent job, to a G only job. I get a quick kiss and a hug before they go upstairs for 'Daddy Daughter Time' before lights out.

G was out last night. It had been ages since I'd done bedtime and I was looking forward to it, even suggesting we read a bit more of The Wishing Chair.  Little did I know what was about to happen.

She cleaned her teeth, got into bed, and gave me a hug but didn't let go. Now a long lingering hug from your child might not be a big deal for you, but it is for us. She leaves them for her daddy. I usually get short ones.

I melted into her small body, letting her hug get tighter, realising something wasn't right. Her hug was out of character, and while I was enjoying the affection, I had to ask 'what's up?'

I want to go 'home'. I'm tired of moving every 2- 3years, of being the new kid, of starting over, and making friends, loosing friends, living in different time zones to family and friends, missing out on being with her cousins, not really knowing her AuntyC and UncleS, of not being able to go away in the caravan with her grandparents, of not going to the ballet with her nana and CousinS, she has no idea how tall she is compared to CousinJ who has always been sooooo much taller than her, of not having sleepover with her godparents and god siblings, of being Australian but not knowing much about it, of not being able to choose the colour of the walls in my bedroom, or knowing where I'll finish school or who my friends will be, of having to sort through my toys and throw stuff out for the next time we move, of missing out on all the celebrations, of only seeing the people we love the most in the world for 2 weeks, TWO WEEKS isn't long enough! of having friends all over the world but not being able to see them or hang out together, I was a baby when we left and now I'm 10 people don't know me and I don't know them.

Her list was articulate, poignant and made complete sense.

I sat and listened while she talked as tears fell out of her eyes and rolled down her cheeks.

I nodded.

I agreed.

I held back the tears.

I hugged her tightly.

Then the questions started. This conversation was getting very serious and very grown up and I wasn't sure I was ready. Her articulation continued. She had obviously given this a LOT of thought.

Why did we have to leave?

Why can't we go back?

Why can't he find a new job there?

Why doesn't he want to go back?

Why can't we go there, and he keeps working somewhere else and visits?

Why can't we be normal and just live in the same place for ever?

I tried to answer each question calmly and in a way she would understand. We chatted about the friends we'd met, the places we'd visited, the things we've seen and done all because daddy' work takes us around the world.

So what, she said. I'd give up everything to be home in Sydney and never leave. Having all the experiences doesn't make up for not being with my family.

OMG - what do I say now? There's nothing I've read in any of the expat books that comes to mind. No conversations with other expat mums that might be helpful spring forth. Shit. Why's G out tonight of all nights? Where has all this bottled up stuff come from?

I summoned up the nerve to ask 'do you blame daddy for us living the life we live?' Thankfully she said no, he's a great daddy and she loves him but it is his job that takes us around the world, so maybe a little bit.

You never ask me what I think about a move.

Why don't you include me in the decisions? I reminded her we did ask her about school in Dublin before moving from the UK; we showed her photos of the house G had found (MissM and I saw it for the first time at the same time online). I explained as she gets older, she'll be more involved. Oh Ok she agreed. PHEW that was easy.

An hour had passed. It was after 9pm. How to calm her down enough for her to fall asleep? Do we dare continue the conversation on the weekend when there was time to indulge and explain? She kept going. I kept listening and answering as best I could.

Would you like to talk with Daddy about this on the weekend when we've time to sit'n'chat, you can ask all the questions you like and we can answer them. NO! Please don't make me tell him. I don't want to upset him. You can tell him, then we can talk if he wants she replied.

She calmed down. She agreed to try to sleep.

G came home not long after. I burst into tears. You can imagine his reaction. I told him everything. He grinned, which annoyed me no end.

She was still awake, and called out his name.

They talked.

He answered her questions the same as I did (yeah! imagine if it was a different response) why did we leave? why can't we go back to live? get a new job!

G pointed out that MissM and I are so much better at this expat stuff than he is - we are more sociable, friendlier, outgoing than he is; we encourage him out of the house to explore; we like new things ..... she smiled and agreed.

We talked about the incredible places we've been and the things we've seen. Dublin. Parts of Ireland. Paris. Copenhagen. Venice. Florence. Pisa. Rome. Budapest. Tokyo. Yokohama. Kyoto. Sapporo. Singapore. Hong Kong. Bangkok. London. And places in-between.

We giggled as we remembered friends from all over the world we've made, the funny times we shared with them and where they are now.

We also talked about living in Sydney and what that means - daddy having to find a new job, mummy more than likely going back to full time work, MissM having to go to before/after school care as a result, that CousinS and CousinJ are also at school and have commitments on weekends so we'd not see them that often even tho we'd live nearby; that no matter where you live, life becomes routine and normal and travel from Australia is very expensive and needs to be planned cos it's far away.

She wasn't buying a lot of our perceived benefits. She said quite simple, I'd give all that up in a second to spend a year with my cousins.

I had to leave the room. I was about to explode with emotion.

They hugged and chatted quietly for a while longer before she settled in his arms and he put her under the covers to sleep.

G and I chatted for hours .......

Oh the joys of expat parenting .......................

With friendship

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