I did a bad, bad thing. I am embarrassed to even admit it. I read Jade’s private email to her best friends after she expressly told me not to, probably because she expressly told me not to. I told myself that I needed to know what was going on in her life. She is only nine and dealing with a lot of changes. And Jade isn’t always one to talk about what is going on, sometimes until much, much later. Maybe I could help her?
And yet I feel guilty. I value privacy. I value respecting my children’s rights to their own private world and space. I still remember my friends from high school whose mothers went through their stuff and read their journals. How awful! I swore I would never do that. Anyway, this is beyond the scope of a blog about Colombia and I am sure it will elicit some strong feelings, both of support and disgust, from my fellow mothers. But I did what I did and even though I feel guilty and conflicted, I would probably do it again.
I am not going to tell you what the email said because that would be betraying Jade’s trust yet again. But reading the email did lead to a long conversation with Jade where she finally admitted that she is not happy at school and can’t wait to go back to Boston. I guess I already knew that but what I didn’t know is the extent of it. She said that none of the girls want to play with her. That the teacher has tried to make them play with her but they just run away from Jade as soon as the teacher turns her back. She was crying as she told me this and I felt just awful for her. I thought of all of her friends back in Boston (and in DC) and how comfortable she felt in the Waldorf school there. And of course I second guessed myself for the hundredth time regarding our decision to move to Colombia. Yes, Siena is thrilled to be here and never wants to go back. Yes, all of us other than Jade are all generally happy here and have a much calmer, more pleasant lifestyle. But, and it’s a big but, my first born isn’t happy.
So what to do? Well, I validated Jade’s feelings and empathized with how hard this must be. I still remember the feeling of being eight years old and having just moved to the US. How alone and out of place I felt! How different from the other kids. It seemed to give Jade some comfort that I knew what she was going through. Then, just as Jade was telling me that there is nothing that can be done about this situation, that she is just waiting until the new school year begins in February because a few new girls will be joining the class, I had an idea. What if we throw an end-of-the school year party and invite her class and the new kids who will be joining in February? This way they can all get together on neutral turf. We can meet the new kids and make play dates over the school break so Jade makes some friends. Plus, we can throw one heck of a party that the kids will like, hopefully.
Jade loved the idea. She has always been a party girl. She made the invitations and has been planning the menu and the party games. She seems excited but I am nervous. Although Colombian friends have told me that it’s a good idea, that to make friends here, we have to reach out and invite kids over, I worry. This is such a last minute culture. The invites are just going out today and the party will be this Saturday. I am still waiting for Jade’s teacher to give me the phone numbers of the new kids so I can call and invite them. What if nobody can come? What if parties for nine year olds are different than parties in the US? What if we commit some major faux-pas?
OK, I guess my inner nervous nine-year old is coming out to play. Just breathe and relax, Natalie. All shall be well. Or at least as it needs to be. We will all learn and grow from this.