The Hard Part

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9599351405_c35076ed71_z.jpgI dropped my kids off today at their new school here in northern California and they were both crying. I drove to the grocery store, feeling like utter shit, and cried in the Whole Foods parking lot. Not because I am a bad parent. I know I'm not really. But because this part of relocating is hard and there is no way around the hard part.

California is great. The weather, the food, the parks, the beach, our house. It's all awesome and we know it. We have all, at different times, remarked on the relief, the pleasant changes that have taken place in our lives in the 4 weeks that we have been here. But newness that brings such excitement also brings a lot of tension and stress. 

See, if you've never been the new kid, you don't know what it's like and you don't know how to be compassionate to newbies. You have to be taught that. You have to be taught to reach out on a daily basis. That's not something other parents don't think about so much when they send their well adjusted kids to school who already have BFF's or already have a spot on the soccer team. It's not something they think about when they are standing around with other new parents waiting to pick up their kids after school either. 

I'm very shy. I always have been. But I learned to fake it long ago when I was the new kid at school. I counted it up; I was the new kid six times in my years of going to public school. SIX. That's not counting college or PI school. The anxiety of standing around by yourself while other kids talk to each other and play is excruciating. No amount of reassurance from mom or dad makes that better. The only thing that can fix it is a friend. If I had to choose today between a few million dollars and a reliable friend for each of my two kids, I'd choose the friends without hesitation.

This might explain why I can't stop thinking about my oldest friend, Stephanie, lately. We hardly talk anymore except on FB, but today, more than ever, I am so thankful for the day she told our 5th grade teacher, Mr. Pierce, that I could sit beside her in class. I am also equally thankful for every day after that she sat with me, waited for me at recess and played with me outside of school. All this time in our 33 years of friendship she has joked that I was the brave one. But I've known that I owed her big time for taking me in, for "friending" me in the truest sense of the word. A true friend really does make all the difference.

So, while moving to a great place like Marin County is absolutely wonderful, there are still really hard parts about doing it. There are very scary days, in the beginning, when we feel terribly alone hoping to meet someone who will stand beside us. Someone to have lunch with, someone who knows our name, someone who makes us feel brave.

As I said, unless you are the new kid, you may not know how important this is. Until now. But what new kids need most if for you to take the lead long enough so we can get the hang of things. Until we are no longer the new kid.

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