Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Judy Blume Moments

This is how we broke the news to our children:

Husband: You know how you guys have been begging for cable TV? Now, you're going to get it, just not in this house.

Kids: We're going to get cable?!? Cartoon Network and everything??

Husband: Yep, but it'll be in Washington, D.C.

My son pumped his fist in the air and shouted, "Go Redskins! Does this mean we can go watch them play?"

My daughter slumped down in her chair and gave me an accusing look. "You're ruining my life. Don't you know it's impossible to make friends in sixth grade? Everyone's all grouped up! My clothes are going to be all wrong."

Technically, it'll be Northern Virginia. Some suburb-y beltway town where the schools are good and big trees will cover our lawn with leaves in the fall.

And we're only going for eighteen months. It's a sabbatical year and a half, at least that's how I've been trying to sell it to my daughter. But she's a suspicious customer and not overly interested in purchasing my version of reality.

She is, however, interested in the shopping trip I've promised to alleviate her fears about fitting in.

The things is, I get it. Every woman gets it.

Part of the long-lasting popularity of Judy Blume books is due to their enduring themes of girlhood trauma. No one wants to walk into a room full of sixth grade girls wearing Keds when you're sporting Converse. It's a small, seemingly unimportant detail, but to my sixth grade girl it's more monumental than any of the actual monuments we'll soon be able to see on a weekend whim.

What's more, I completely understand my daughter's angst. Already I'm mourning the loss of my Saturday morning eighties step aerobic class with friends, followed by coffee and conversation that kickstarts our day and keeps us sane.

What am I going to do without that? What am I going to do without them? What if the women in my temporary suburban home don't want to have coffee with me because, you know, women of my age are already kinda grouped up. What if they're not taking on any new friends?

The kids have had almost a week to adjust to the news. There've been ups and downs. I've discovered the reason parents bribe their children is because it works. I've also discovered the parameters of bribes should be clearly defined.

Me (handing them a catalog): It's going to be so much fun! You can design your new room.

Daughter (after 20 minutes spent absorbed in said catalog): I'll take the room that looks like it has a connected bathroom, a window seat and a deck.

Me: I meant bedspread and curtains.

Son: Can I get a loft bed shaped like Darth Vader's head? And what about my own iPad? That would look good in my room.

Me: Let's just focus on bedspreads and curtains.

Other high points have been the realization we can visit Colonial Williamsburg and the Liberty Bell.

A low point for all of us, is my husband has to start work the first week of June which means we'll spend the summer sans daddy, but soaking in more time with our beloved Oregon peeps, both family and friends who feel like family.

There's no doubt it'll be an adventure. But we're still inching along the diving board and all of us, with the exception of Child #2, are a little bit nervous about the temperature of our new swimming pool.


Beylit said...

Yea we did a big move when I was going into 7th grade, which was should have been the end of my world, but considering how bad 6th grade was for me was sort of a relief. Of course my mother gave us about two weeks notice, and that included time to pack. We thankfully only were going an hour up the road, though culturally Austin is nothing like San Antonio.

I think I would be trepidations about moving somewhere I didn't know anyone even now. I am not always the best at making new friends especially at work and I fear I would never go out and meet anyone.

Of course much like when I was 12 I am sure it would all be more traumatic in my head than in real life.

rachel s said...

laughed and cried all at the same time.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

This is a big move for you, and I feel for your daughter, worried about being the new girl in sixth grade.

When I was just starting high school my father had the opportunity to move us to Australia for 3 years -- then we would've returned. The family talked it over for a long time. We'd have to give up the house, the dog ...

In the end, we didn't go. Looking back, I regret my parents' decisions. Now, Australia is not the same as Northern Virgina, but the principle is the same. Some day your daughter will be glad she had the chance to live in more than one place.

(I have never lived anywhere but Pennsylvania -- and I am 48.)

Alison DeLuca said...

Went to a different school every year from 5th - 10th grade. Can so totally relate!

On the plus side, we ARE going to come and visit. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I was a military brat and we moved all the time. Your kids will adjust. And have fun exploring a new area.

ilima said...

Ooh, good luck with your move. I'm sure the kids, and you, will settle into everything in no time.

Connie J Jasperson said...

I like the way your daughter thinks. I like a room with a connected bathroom, window seat and deck too!

Seriously, I love the way you are so involved with your children, yet you allow them room to grow. Believe me, they will be good, strong adults because of it!

Barbara Watson said...

What a huge thing! Cheers to you all. And such a great place to spend 18 months. Maybe you can actually take in all there is to see and do. We only had eight days. :-) Think of it as as an elongated field trip.

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

It sounds like you are about to embark on an adventure. Maybe you should try selling this thing like a trip to Narnia or something like that. Who knows what wonders lie in the big world of D.C.?

~Sia McKye~ said...

Moving isn't easy for anyone--the logistics of stuff topping the list. But you're making it an adventure and it will be, along with those moments of, I miss...

I was military and then dad moved us with jobs all over the place. I learned a lot about tolerance and seeing the beauty of the area I was in--not with the focus of where I had been but seeing it with fresh eyes. No, there is no way around walking into a classroom of new kids, but it's adaptable.

Enjoy the DC area. I grew up around there (we lived Maryland) and oh, DC area has SO much to see and do.


Johanna Garth said...

Beylit, we're nervous, but hopefully the adventure will outweigh the nerves.

Rach, me too!

Dianne, that's really good to hear. I'm a big believer in not missing out on whatever life throws your way.

Allie, YAY!!

Alex, good perspective.

Ilima, I'm sure you're right.

Connie, can I have that room too? Seriously!! :)

Barbara, I'm sure we'll keep very busy.

Michael, great idea!

Thanks Sia, and thanks for the much needed perspective.

Annalisa Crawford said...

I moved when I was 11. Because I was only going to the new school for six weeks before heading off to the 'big school' mum didn't see the point in buying me the uniform. So while all the other girls were wearing red and white checked dresses, I was wearing blue shorts and a red striped t-shirt. Luckily, no one seemed to care. Hope the move goes smoothly.

Shell Flower said...

Wow. That's big news. You are a cool mom for understanding that fitting in is important. We moved from Wisconsin to Massachusetts the summer after 6th grade after a corporate takeover ousted my dad from his job. My world changed entirely, and it wasn't easy, but it was a good thing that taught me to be a better person. Good luck!

Unknown said...

I feel your daughters pain. I moved to Houston from England in 6th grade. I don't think I've ever recovered from the trauma of that. :)

Neurotic Workaholic said...

I remember that my family talked about moving when I was in the sixth grade, but I wanted to move; I didn't have any close friends (the cliques formed in the first grade and more or less stayed intact through senior year) at the time, and I thought that moving would be a good chance to meet new people and make friends.
Maybe if your daughter participates in after-school activities it'll be easier for her to meet people. Maybe she won't even want to leave after the eighteen months are up. And maybe you could join a gym when you're there, or a book club; that would be a good way to meet people too.

jaybird said...

Oh, I want a bed in the shape of Darth Vader's head. I like the way he thinks!

I had to move around a lot when I was a kid. It's not easy, but it definitely made my family tight. We are all close. You kind of become that way when it's you against the world.

No doubt your daughter will make new friends and so will you!!

Good luck with this new endeavor.

PS Are you there God it's me Margaret is still one of my fav Blume books. It helped me through and awkward time. Love her!

A Beer for the Shower said...

I never moved as a child, and I'm incredibly thankful for that. Mostly because Brandon and I have known each other since elementary school and we wouldn't be doing what we're doing now if either of us had moved. But I'm sure your kids will be fine. :)

Nicki Elson said...

Your daughter will have all sorts of Judy Blumish angst to pour into her diary -- and maybe one day it'll turn into a best seller.

I'm sure you know everything will turn out just fine, but there's no getting past the nerves at this stage.

Bribery totally works! With my daughter all it took was the promise of a life-sized stuffed lion - one that I told her wouldn't fit in the old house (it probably wouldn't have).

Mark Koopmans said...


I'm not even joking, but I've moved more than fifty times in twenty-five years (and you still can't catch me coppers!!)

OK, that last part was a joke.

No, it was...


Anyhow, once you sell it to the kids that this is an adventure that will *one day* broaden their horizons, I think (hope!) you'll be fine.

PS... You were happily mentioned in my blog Monday :)~

Unknown said...

Not to sound like a know-it-all, but I've done my share of moving, and every time I am so blown away by the wonderful friends I've met and the unique experiences I have had. I hear you though--it's different when it is about your kids. Find something near and dear to hold close to your heart and get ready: your life is out there waiting for you to find it.
~Just Jill