When I was 9 years old, my parents and I moved from Anaheim, California to St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. This was in 1965 (you do the math). In 1970, my parents and I moved from St. Croix to the Northern Territory of Australia. I was 14 at the time. I remember feeling regrets both times that I was leaving my friends but a sense of excitement at the new adventure coming up.
Or did I?
Our daughter Jennie's best friend, who is 9 years old, is moving to Japan. Permanently. Her mother, who is American, is married to a Japanese gentleman who has been working here in the U.S. Jennie's friend is the oldest of 5 children and the family is lovely and charming. It's amusing that the mom's gorgeous red hair has not been visited on any of the kids, though! Anyway, long story short is the dad is being laid off from his job and so he decided to go back home with the family to Japan and work for his uncle.
I'm having a harder time with this than Jennie. She's mourning the loss of her best friend and is grumping around the house, but I feel like crying hysterically, and I'm furious with the parents for doing this to their American kids. I'm seeing the girl have stomach problems and be downright petrified at the thought of moving into such a different culture and having to play catch-up with the Japanese language, which she is not yet proficient in.
I'm pretty sure that most of the feelings I'm having, which are WAY out of proportion to the situation, are feelings that I had when I moved from California to St. Croix. So I'm self-medicating this morning with a triple espresso mocha blast and a raspberry cheese croissant. (I think that's for my inner kid -- my inner adult would prefer a bottle of wine, though not at 9:00 a.m.) And I'm trying to keep this in perspective so I don't do or say anything inappropriate to the girl or her mother. I've tried telling some stories to the girl about my moves and how I coped with the culture differences, but she is so shut down right now it's painful to see.
Damn, damn, damn.