Magic 8 ball..?

9 09 2009

8ballWe stopped before heading our separate ways and took a few minutes to let the others know what menacing clouds seemed to be threatening our individual horizons. Twenty-three of us gathered around the fire ring – missing the nine who don’t live close anymore – our end of summer family ritual at the Big Lake.  This same group gathers every other Sunday for dinner all through the Fall, Winter and Spring.

Three of the group started new schools today and at critical stages of life. As I sat chatting with their mom talking about these important milestone moments in life, I reminded her that wish as we might to have a crystal ball to see how it will all turn out – we are left walking the hard times with our kids and waiting for the outcome.

It took me back to 10 summers ago when circumstances beyond our control yanked us out of one life and plopped us down in another.  The second move in three years which came at a most inopportune time…before Best Boy’s senior year and Shop Girl’s junior year, meant another city, another state and another school.

The move before that had dumped them both in the American school system after doing all of their elementary and middle school years in Spanish public schools.  We thought we were only going to be Stateside for a year – but it turned into another chapter that we hadn’t prepared for or foreseen.

I didn’t know until much later just how traumatic those days were.  Most freshman in high school know how a tumble lock locker works…they’ve used them all through middle school for sure.  They don’t have lockers in Spain.

I don’t know when it was that I was finally told that Best Boy had gone the entire first week of school never eating his lunch because the 20 minute time frame wasn’t enough to

  • find his locker
  • get the stupid thing open
  • find the lunch room
  • eat his “lunch” at 10:30 a.m. (an absolutely bizzarro time to eat when he was used to the main meal of the day being at 2 p.m.)
  • and if he could have found his way, would there be anyone he even knew to sit with?

So he didn’t eat.  That kills me to this day.  As a parent, I want a re-do.  I want to go back and take that angst away and smooth out the transition.  And I am quite sure that I don’t know the half of the pain those days caused.

We were told to buy Trapper Keepers.  I had to call a friend and ask what the heck a Trapper Keeper was.  I felt like a 40 year old fool.  The irony of Shop Girl wearing things we bought at KMart because it was what we could afford and finding out that people were making fun of her to her face…only to eventually become the person that can look at certain clothes and name the designer without looking at the tag.

The catastrophic changes came at a time that was very literally life altering for them.  All I knew was that I was there to help baby step them through it.  I had no guarantees.  I had no magic potion to take the pain away.  No Samantha Stephens nose twitching to take us out of this place.  Just gut it out day after day.  Absolutely the most painful 4-5 years we endured as a family.

Now a decade ago, I can give my head a half turn, peer over my shoulder at the past and see how it all lined up.  How it all went together to make them the people they are today…with some incredible strengths that only come from hours and hours in refining fires.

Today was the first day of kindergarten for some special rug rats we know.  Older siblings went back to comfortable familiar classrooms full of friends they love.  The start of another academic year.

Those of us who are parents can’t predict the future of how each days’ events will impact our kids’ lives.  The best we can do is to be close enough and quiet enough to listen to their spoken and unspoken words.  I remember the day when my two in so much pain asked me to kindly refrain from spinning the mess into, “It’ll all be OK”.  They needed me to cry with them and to empathize with them and to admit to them that the whole situation was very hard, very unfair.

“Magic 8 ball…will everything turn out OK?”

“Ask again later.”



One response

9 09 2009
Tonya brothers papenfus

Wendy, thanks for this reminder as we face a time of much uncertainty…forced to leave the church my 4 girls have grown up in…with no job in sight…and we live in the parsonage…which means they (we) loose our home too…I am trying to be so positive and “faithful” and “trusting” that I need to remember to take the opportunity to cry with them over the “loss” of our life as we know it…after all, I have my girls forever…and this place only for a little while…
ps hard to believe that “little baby Brie” who I watched at visitaion suppers at calvary is about to have a baby of her own! Congrats!

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