Monday, May 7, 2012

Nuts and Bolts: Preparing your children

Oy. I made a huge mistake today. Huge.

This morning Martin gave me the news that we will be sending our car in two weeks time, and it will need to be filled with all our belongings. Remember how I mentioned that we didn't know quite yet how we are getting what little we are taking to Poland. Well, that's how. And for the car to be there when we get there, it has to leave in two weeks. Which means I have two weeks to get everything out, put into bins, itemized and labeled correctly for customs, and hope it all fits in the car.

This was big news. And then I shared it with the children.

See, the thing is with kids, they have no concept of time. Hejjo, 6 years old, he does ok, but the other two 4.5 and 3, not so much. (Kacio was just running around knocking all the packing boxes over. That's what he does all day, knocks stuff over.)

Me; Okay guys well, we have to start packing up stuff to ship to Poland in our car. Let's see, where we can start?
F: Mommy, where's my backpack?
L: Do I have a backpack?
Me: Yeah, ya'll's backpacks are on the top shelf of your closet, why?
F: I need to pack it up.
L: My dolly needs to go to Poland, can I take my dolly? She needs to go in my backpack.
Me: Yes, Lina, you can take your dolly. Guys,we don't need to pack for the plane yet. The backpacks are for the plane. We are just packing for all the stuff that is going on the boat to Poland, not the plane.
F: Mommy, what kinds of things will go in my backpack?
M: Well, you know, things like, snacks and a couple books and a game and one stuffed animal if you want.
L: I want my blankie to go and this sticker and I want an orange. Can I have an orange on the plane?
M: Yes, Lina, you can have an orange on the plan but we don't need to pack those things now. We aren't going anywhere right now.
F: But why can't I have snack's on the plane?!
M: You can! You just don't need to pack it right now. We have lots of time before we need to pack for the plane. Lots of time.
F: Oh, you mean cuz if we pack it now it will rot before we leave? It will rot in our backpacks?
M: That's right, Felix! So don't worry about the plane and your backpack right now, okay?
L: Mommy, can you open my backpack I need to put my Raggedy Ann in too so she can go with me. Will there be buckles on the boat?
Me: Buckles? What for?
L: So that my dollies and my Lego's don't fly everywhere when the boat goes in the water.
Me: You don't need to worry about that Lina, it will all be in our car. It will be safe.
Hejjo: What if the boat sinks?

 So, as you can see. The younger they are, the less they need to know, at least when it comes to packing.  ;)

But otherwise, preparing the children. I don't know. I  suppose it differs for every family.  Martin recalls that when he was a child and they would go back and forth between the two countries he wouldn't find out they were leaving until just a couple days before they left, sometimes finding out from people other than his parents. He doesn't remember this too fondly. I know they had good reasons for this ( some of which you can see we are experiencing at this very moment :) ). Nevertheless, we are kind of doing the exact opposite with our kids.

We ask a lot of questions, daily, and talk about it, a lot.

What are you excited about? Hejjo: climbing trees (lots of good cherry trees for climbing where we're going), Felix: Eating ice cream every day (yeah, right), Lina: a princess bed (= "mosquito net" thingy from IKEA) Kacio: "bah" (sound of him knocking over a chair, also from IKEA)

What are you nervous or afraid of? (Hejjo: the kids there won't know English, Felix: those big dogs, there are lots of dogs there, Lina: being by myself in my room (she'll be sharing with Kacio I think)

What will you miss? Hejjo: my friends, Felix: Babcia (his source of ice cream ;) ), Lina: Grandma and Victoria

And so forth and so on.  And we are constantly talking about the differences between the two places, pointing out what will be the same and what will be different in any given situation. Constantly reassuring them that Mommy and Tata will be no different, and that our family will be the same no matter where we live. All I can do is prepare them a bit before hand so the shock isn't too great and just pray they adapt quickly, like everyone says they will.

Hejjo will have it the hardest. He has friends here. He doesn't understand why we *have* to go to Poland and so I tell him again, each time he asks, and then he's okay with it. Felix and Lina have a hard time understanding that we will be living in Babcia's house (Martin's family's home) but Babcia won't be there. And that we won't be here for Christmas. They can't envision a future somewhere different. But they'll figure it out.

I think, in the end, as with everything, my mood will set the tone for the entire endeavor. As long as I remain positive and enthusiastic, so do they. When I have a moment of weakness or fear, they immediately follow suit and push back against the idea. And so, much more rests on my shoulders than just my own outlook and experience, as my children will rely on me to guide them not only physically but emotionally, through the next two months and into our new home. This is good and right. Good for me and good for them. We will rely on each other in this way. And we'll be okay.

As for the boat sinking... Hejjo is already planning which new Lego sets he will buy with the insurance money once I explained how that works. The little stinker.

Krakow 2010...Felek with his daily ice cream.



  1. The next two months will be very stressful for you and your family. I have an idea for you: why don't you start your life in Poland from a week of vacation? In the mountains somewhere close to Kraków, in a hotel with a playground, swimming pool and spa, where they will cook for you and help you to entertain your kids. What do you think?

    1. You know, that is a great idea. And I have to say, we have thought of that. We thought about going to the coast (Gdansk or somewhere similar) right when we get there, just to relax and have some peace after the moving craziness. Unfortunately we have too many commitments right off the plane, like paper work to file so we can retrieve our car and then there's the $$ aspect of course, and there's me and not wanting to slow down because there is so much that has to be done... but you know what.... going straight to a hotel where we can relax and not have to think and just get over the jet lag and then "begin" might not be such a bad idea. It doesn't have to be somewhere away from Krakow, it could just be a place where *we* don't have to do all the work. I wonder if we could make that happen? A wonderful suggestion! I will talk to Martin!

  2. Ok here is the second part of my plot: Hotel Wierchomla. It's about 2 hours drive from Kraków.

    We will be there July 21 - 28. The cost for us (2 adults and 3 kids) is about $1500, it would be slightly cheaper for you as none of your kids is 12 and older (which counts as an adult).

    1. I was looking over your blog from 2009. Lots of great info. there. Do you have an email address? Would you be open to answering some of our questions?

    2. Sure. I have added my e-mail in the last line of the "Hello world" post of my blog.

  3. You have a lot on your head. It's hard when childrens asks a lot of questions for you ? ;)

    1. Well, that what kids do, you know? Ask questions. I don't mind that so much, although sometimes you really have to be selective about which info. you share with them. ;)