Living in a different country, in a village, where hardly any English is spoken is a bunch of fun. Especially when you forgot the differences of the beginning of the school year.
Things that are quite important like…
Oh, packing your daughter’s lunch for her.
You see. I forgot that they don’t start serving school lunches the first day of school. I even made sure to tell my husband, “Richard, make sure to go and pay for school lunches so Adelyne will have money on her account.”
So, Richard went to pay for lunches. The lunch lady said, “Oh, no worries. Pay by September 15th.”
And we thought, “Wow. What a relaxed country. How nice!”
Little did I remember (until well past lunch time) that they don’t serve school lunches that day.
AHHHH! Well, good thing I packed Adelyne a cookie to snack on. Oh, and Smarties because, after all, it was the first real day of school and I wanted to remind her to be a “Smarty”. Smarties are like M&Ms. Therefore, technically, she did have two things to eat. Both sugary. But I guess sugar worked well enough. She made it through the day 😉 And, yes, she came home HUNGRY.
To make it up to her, I had bought her favorite French pastries for her arrival home…apple! She was so happy to see them and devoured them quickly.
But forgetting her lunch was not all. Somehow, lost in translation, was the fact that she would need PE clothes to change in and out of. She did, however, change her shoes from outside shoes to hallway shoes.
So, let me set this all straight:
She was the only student that did not have a lunch.
She also was the only student that did not change clothes after PE.
And she was the only student that DID change her shoes from outside shoes to hallway shoes back to outside shoes.
That’s it. Three strikes. We definitely struck out.
But in spirit and adventure and smiles, we still won. Adelyne came home completely happy to have been at school and back amongst her friends in Poland.
Now for the counselor…
Before we returned to Poland, my husband and I were completely breathless, having near panic attacks, worried about Adelyne’s return to Poland. After all, we had been living in the beautiful and glorious USA for the past year and a half. That’s a very long time for a child. Especially when you go from 1st grade to 3rd grade. The maturity at 8 that was not there at 6 is astounding. Her entire being is different now. And school in Polish. Eek! The language is so difficult.
And, so, we, trying to be and ahead of the game parents, decided to set up a back-to-Poland counseling appointment. Hoping that it would be 1 of 3 appointments.
We met with the counselor and spoke to her about our concerns and told her about Adelyne. She was extremely perceptive. Probably a great trait in a counselor, eh? And we scheduled the time for her to meet one-on-one with the counselor.
Adelyne was told that she was going to meet a lady that she could share openly with her feelings about returning to Poland, or anything else that laid heavy on her heart.
She seemed okay with it. So off we went.
Now, here’s the funny part, the lady that we sent Adelyne to is specifically a counselor for children. She has toys and crafts and art supplies galore in her office so that the children can play and talk at the same time, keeping the atmosphere very safe for them.
Well, Adelyne decided to sit on the couch across from her and speak the entire time. You see, Adelyne was an only child for 6 and 1/2 years. And for that entire time, she has helped us build a foundation for the poor in Poland. Meaning, she has spent the majority of her life in meetings or doing grown-up stuff.
The counselor was funny. She said, “It’s the first time a child has sat on the couch the entire counseling session. It made me a bit uncomfortable.”
Haha. A piece of the counselor’s own medicine—being on the other side of the couch, eh? (But I say that in respectful love because I truly believe greatly in good and Godly counseling and hold the utmost respect for the counselor herself)
Back to the counseling session. Adelyne shared a lot. The counselor after spoke with me about what was said and her advice on how Richard and I could help with the transition back to Poland. Overall, it was a beautifully great and helpful session.
And with everything in my being, I had intended to take Adelyne in for 2 more sessions before our move back to Poland.
One session to address the difficulties Richard and I had in our marriage the past year that she was witness to.
The next how she felt when Maxwell was sick (Our son is a NICU and then later an ICU, blood transfusion, and coma survivor).
So, you see, there is a lot that a little 8 year old could share with a counselor. And I had really wanted to get her back…
But life got in the way of my best intentions. My husband was once again out of the country for a month. I was packing and moving a house without him. My daughter had daily dive lessons. And I have 2 wee ones that were even wee-r at the time (if there is such a word).
All of this means we did not get back to the counselor despite my heart telling me it was so needed.
And then we went and did it. Moved back to Poland. And we began to settle back into our lives of living in a foreign country and all that entails (which is lot on its own).
Happy, happy, happy has my daughter been. And then it hit!
Maxwell, our son, had a horrible allergic reaction to something. His face swelled up, his eye was swelling closed, the red was creeping along his neck.
He looked horrible, felt horrible, and I began to panic.
Can he breathe? What happened? Did he touch something? Did he eat something?
And then something even worse happened.
My daughter lost it. She just sat there and cried and cried and cried.
I felt for her, but, at the moment, we had to take care of Maxwell (and the regime that comes with a horrible allergy attack) and then monitor him closely for about 20 minutes with our epi pens right next to us. We were debating, do we call my brother, a fire captain and paramedic? Do we call our brother-in-law, a doctor? Do we call the Polish emergency number 1-1-2? Do we ride it out?
Who knows if we made the best choice, but we made a choice that we felt was best.
And while Maxwell slowly started to improve, Adelyne started to dis-improve. She melted. Literally melted.
She climbed in my lap like a small child would and crumpled against my chest. No matter how many times we tried to assure her that Maxwell was fine, she seemed unable to breathe peacefully.
And that’s when I got to the heart of her panic.
Laying flat against my chest with her legs curled up into my lap she said through her tears, “Do you know what it’s like to have your brother almost die on you?”
No. She wasn’t talking about his allergy attack (as severe as it was), she was talking about when no one knew if Maxwell was going to live or die when he was a baby.
In the midst of something sad but not so extraordinary (although I don’t take allergic reactions lightly, especially with my nutty son), the past came back in a rush to my daughter, and I could tell the future will continue to hold a lot of healing.
And while we have epi pens for our son Maxwell, dealing with the heart of Adelyne may require a different kind of medicine. Called time. Love. And lots of hugs.
Now, to end on a funny note. As Adelyne was super sentimental about Maxwell’s horrible allergy reaction, she just wanted to cuddle her precious baby brother.
Max, on the other hand, kept kicking her away and tackling her and shouting, “Noooooo!”
Yes. This did eventually make the waterworks worse.
But, truly, isn’t that what brothers are for?!