As more and more friends, acquaintances and family find out about our plans to return to India, they reach out to me and ask me questions. Among other questions of why we are moving, when we are moving, and where we are moving to, the one question that everyone unfailing asks is “What does S think? Is she excited?”.
When my husband and I made up our mind back in October, we decided to break the news to our 10 year old daughter. She thought we were joking at first, but then quickly realized we were serious. It took her less than a moment to start wailing in protest. She did not want to go. She would miss her friends. India was soooo hot! She hated the mosquitoes, the traffic. She called out every negative thing a 10 year old could come up with about India. After much cajoling, and explaining, a few hours later she had calmed down some. We distracted her that day by taking her on a long road trip to to my uncle’s place.
Soon after, we started our preparations, and she went about her life without much change. She told her friends, and as we told ours, they asked her what she thought – and she either said she didn’t want to go or shrugged her shoulders.
As we get closer to our move date, she is realizing that there is not much time left, that she will have to leave the only home she remembers, and leave all her friends behind. She realizes now she will have to get used to living in a much hotter place, go to a new school which insists on teaching French, and make new friends that she may or may not like. As I stood in her room, waiting to take pictures of her bedroom set, so I could put it up for sale, she spread herself across the entire width of her bed and started sobbing. This was “her bed”, in “her house”. “I don’t want to go!”, she wailed. Few days later, the same was repeated as we put garage sale stickers on some of her toys.
All of this was not unexpected, but every time it happens, it tugs hard at my heart, and wears me down. It makes me second guess our decision, and at the same time pray that it all works out in the long run. The parent in me wants my daughter to grow up and be an adaptable person, capable of making herself at home in any new place and culture. I hope she can pick up the best traits of the east and west and become an individual with a global outlook. As an adult, I hope she realizes the importance of her grandparents in her life, and loves being in touch with her large extended family. Over time I hope she can build an appreciation for the complex societal structure in India that is so often at odds, and yet somehow works.
At the end of it all, I hope she understands why we did what we did, and does not resent us for it. Until then, I will hold on to my heart and remember what a wise colleague once said to me about bringing up kids – “No matter what you do, or how hard you try, you can never quite shake off that feeling that you screwed them up!”