Four weeks into being here and I think we're settled into the routine of it all. So for those of you interested, a kid update:
S: He'll be 11 on Friday. Before we ever came here, he said he didn't want a birthday party until we go back home. Now he's not so sure. But he doesn't want school friends at the party. Or compound friends necessarily. That leaves his loving family, right? Not so fast. "I just don't know, Mom!" he keeps moaning. "I don't know what I want to do! I'm sorry!" "Don't be sorry. Just let me know when you decide." Time's a-tickin and still no decision. He's in agony, as are the rest of us who have to deal with his exTREME mood swings lately. It's homesickness, I'm sure. But oh. my. gosh. "I miss my friends." "You have friends here, too." "No one I feel comfortable around." Five minutes later: "And when I leave here, I'll miss these friends!" "What friends?" "The friends I might have." Five more minutes later: "And then when we move again, I'll miss my Pittsburgh friends, my Doha friends. and Jordan (who moved away 3 years ago!)." "Be glad you have friends," I tell him. "Some kids are too poor to afford them."
Oh, wrong lecture.
Friday was the "worst day ever" for him. He accidentally laughed at the little guy singing in the car and when I caught him laughing, he started crying all over again. I said, "It's okay to be happy again." "No," he groaned. "I really am sad!" Then Sunday was his best day ever. Then yesterday was even better (his first game of rugby during recess; he enjoyed the bloodshed). Until last night when we were at dinner and he had a meltdown because he thought he was full, then realized he wasn't, then wanted more food, but the spices were killing him, which upset him even more. "I don't know what's so spicy. I don't know." It wasn't the heat that got to him, it was not knowing the source.
And back to my comment about him not wanting us at his party, I say that not because he has told us, but because he has shown us. Were my parents an endless source of embarrassment to me this early in life? Do boys go through hormonal changes like girls do? Are Ron and I really as socially backward as S thinks we are when we're out in public together? (Don't answer that.) I don't remember crying over my dosa last night like--ahem--someone else did.
The sad thing is, just this last summer, S came on a mini vacation with my mother and I. He held my hand everywhere we went, so much that I started to feel suffocated the first day. "Appreciate it now," I kept telling myself. "He'll be embarrassed of you before you know it." And, yes, it's before I know it.
As for the other kids? They're not nearly as hormonal or homesick or embarrassed of us.
O is happy, healthy, a tad more emotional than usual, but that just means his temper flares 18 times a day instead of 16.
E is really changing here and I feel like I'm getting to know a brand new little girl. She shares a room with O now and I got her a Princess rug for her side of the room. In the evening, she spends time organizing her toys around it, brushing her mermaids' hair, color-coordinating her outfits and hair accessories. She's become obsessive about keeping things neat and it's kinda freaking me out a little. But she's in heaven here. She plays every afternoon with two little girls down the street who are her age, skips or jumps rope there and back, her usual bouncy self. We still get the occasional outburst, typical 5-year-old temperament, but as long as she's happy more often than not, I'm happy, too.
The little guy is the same as ever: wild and happy. He's in preschool 2 mornings a week and wishes it were every day. We got him a tricycle the first week here (my first experience haggling with a shop owner) and he's a madman on it, keeping up with the kids on scooters. He longs to go swimming, but we've had a cold spell here (60s), so I've managed to keep his clothes on.
And there you have it. Aside from their moments or days of homesickness, they hardly seem to notice they're in a foreign country or that none of their classmates are from America. They don't stare at people or ask rude questions (yet). I suppose seeing everyone in abayas and thobes is less disconcerting to them than seeing one person in one in the States would be. Boredom on weekends when everyone else seems to disappear is a bit of an issue, but that's why we have a Wii. And books. And a birthday party to agonize over.