Sunday, January 25, 2009

Breaking the News

We'd just finished supper, but the plates still littered the table.

"We have some news, girls.  We're going to move to the United States." 

Emma's eyes puddled with tears. "I don't want to move. Sylvie is too precious. "  Sylvie, the best friend.  Mouse frowned furiously, trying her best to mimic Emma's desperate sincerity, but missing the mark. She was excited.

Emma moved to my lap and Mouse, to the Captains. We listened to their fears of leaving their friends, their teachers, their home. We reminded them of people they knew who had moved to the same place--too many. We told them things they might see as the upside of the coming change: they could go to school in English every day; they would see their Canadian family more often; and, where we were headed, there were no twisty roads.  None.  Emma would not be consoled. Mouse brightened. 

I shared my own experience of moving from Canada to the United States when I was seven. "The other kids thought, because I came from Canada, that I had lived in an igloo.  I didn't correct them--at least not at first." Mouse giggled. Emma smiled, her body still rigid in my arms.  

I told them about moving back to Canada when I was thirteen and how I didn't want to go. "My best friend Jessica and I wrote letters to each other for years after that. Sometimes we sent each other pictures and stickers. And did you know, she came to Daddy's and my wedding?  Just because you live far apart doesn't mean you can't be friends." Evidently this story struck home because Emma relaxed into my shoulder, letting me rest my cheek on the top of her head. She loves mail.

Finally came a legitimate question. "When?" 

"March." We couldn't be more specific. At least, not yet.

The girls went to bed late that night. Excited, sad, and everything in between. It went as well as could be expected.

For expert advice on how to support your child when moving between cultures, listen to this fabulous podcast by child and adolescent psychotherapist Rachel Melville-Thomas of World Radio Switzerland. 

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes the most productive survival lessons can be the most painful as you well know...
    You did good, lady, but I knew you would.