Three years ago, H (my childhood BFF) moved to Ottawa. It was weird and exciting, as we'd been pretty out of touch with each other's lives for our 20's -- saving sporadic contact for weddings and congrats at the safe delivery of babies, etc. I was really glad to have the opportunity to get reacquainted and relieved that, despite the years of radio silence, she was still the same person I remembered.
What I didn't anticipate was the connection she'd forge with my kids. My oldest was intrigued by the adult who didn't speak down to him and taught him the basics of chess. My youngest fell head over heels in love, creating detailed stories about what they'd do when he grew up -- always ending in marrying her.
With H moving to Alberta, I was anticipating a bit of fall-out -- not from #1, as he easily rationalized it and decided he could talk to her on the computer or in email -- but from my youngest, for whom going away is still rather mixed up with the "going away" that happened when his Grammie died this winter.
Nothing prepared me for what actually happened.
H decided, before moving, that she was going to host a going-away bash at her house. We packed up the kids and went over, meeting her friends and co-workers and having a great time. Near the end of the evening, while perched in a tree, #2 asked me to make a movie of him with my camera.
How sweet, I thought, he wants to make a "goodbye" movie for H. I turned the camera on and started filming.
"Goodbye," said #1. "You can watch this movie when you miss me. I'm going to go live with H and she's going to be my new mum." Bottom lip trembling, he continued, "Goodbye, because I'm staying here with H when you leave to go home."
It went downhill from there. It took a lot of convincing to get him buckled into the van for the drive home, and once he got home he started packing his backpack with his essentials: his teddy bear, some t-shirts, a framed picture of him and a school chum, rubber boots, his favorite Spiderman sweater, and so on. Any toys shared with his brother received a grave "goodbye, I won't miss you" before he packed the next item.
The more I tried to cajole him out of it, the more adamant he became -- unfortunately this guy inherited the stubborn-as-a-mule gene from both parents and, if pushed too hard, will collapse into a full-on tantrum. Hoping to avoid that, I struck a bargain with him. I offered to help him run away.
Thus, I ended up randomly strolling around the neighbourhood with my 5yr old from 9pm-10:30pm on a Sunday night, hoping he'd either get tired or be talked out of the whole thing. The most bittersweet part of the walk was when he asked to go to his favorite playground to say goodbye. He went for one slide, then patted the side of the play structure and whispered, "goodbye, I'm going to Alberta and I won't miss you."
By 10:30pm, though, his feet were dragging and he was asking to be carried. Fortunately, "silly mum" had forgotten to bring a map so we had gotten "lost" and were mere minutes from our house.
He decided on his own that since he was tired and we were so close to home anyway, that perhaps he'd go home and have a sleep and run away tomorrow.
Fortunately for me, his favorite uncle and his Grampie arrived on motorbikes from the East Coast the next day, providing the perfect distraction. If that hadn't happened, I'd probably still be "helping him run away". ;)