Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Finding and Losing his First Love

Inspired by the informational and personal piece from Naomi about moving a teenager abroad, I wanted to write about my child's recent experience of life and love in the Foreign Service. 

Living in the Foreign Service certainly provides challenges, and one of them is the "transition season." That time of year (Summer in the U.S.) when those leaving/coming to Post do those things. This is my first at Post transition season and it's been challenging for me. Luckily the Foreign Service is small and there's a chance I'll see my friends again. 

One of my biggest fears for my children is handling the emotional stress involved in losing their friends. For Simon, this isn't an issue. I don't know if he has friends yet - is he capable of that? But for Malachi, when almost all of his friends are leaving this summer, I'm terrified. Malachi's a very social and friend/family-centric person. I guess he takes after me that way. 

Malachi's usually a very well behaved boy and Wednesday two weeks, ago I got an email from his teacher, basically saying that he was having a hard time focusing and it was a distraction for the students, and a hardship for the teachers. 

This was very un-Malachi so I immediately suspected that the anti-seizure meds had finally started to really mess with his brain and I imagined us having a very hard time with education either until his meds were done or for the rest of his educational career due to anti-seizure medications, which we certainly weren't giving up. We told Malachi that this behavior wasn't acceptable and that we'd be talking to his teacher every day to see how he acted at school. If he was a "bad" student he'd have privileges taken away, if he was a "good" student he'd be rewarded. 

The next day, I received another email from his teacher saying that he'd hit two boys from his class - one of them being his BFF.

I was utterly mortified when I read this. I couldn't believe Malachi had acted in such a fashion. I had wondered if Malachi was getting stressed out about the impending arrival, but at home he'd only been acting excited and happy about it. John and I agreed to have John have a very serious discussion about his behavior at school that day. When John came out, I'm pretty sure he had a really big grin on his face. 

When Malachi told him the story of what happened, John felt he wasn't getting to the bottom of it - the root of the cause if you will. He wasn't going to lead Malachi to admit anything specific, but realized that if he didn't bring up the baby it might not be talked about. So John flat out asked if Malachi was upset about the baby. 

Malachi says, "well...I wish it was a girl like [Malachi's classmate, and daughter of FS family] because I like her." 

He then went on to admit that they're really good friends, "but not like she kisses me or anything." We suspected that the behavior issues at school the three days had to do with the fact that he was in fact dealing with his first love. The misbehavior at school could have been showing off, and the aggression to the boys could have been because they were potential threats.

The next night he whispered a secret into John's ear (that he whispered so loudly that I could hear). The secret was that he wanted to marry her because she's so pretty (she's a very pretty Latina girl, btw). John later asked him if he'd ever confessed his love to her. When he answered no, John encouraged him to do so because he'd regret it if he never did. 

His behavior was reasonable at school the next couple of weeks. The teachers said that all of the students were having problems because of all the upcoming changes (school ending, people leaving Post, etc.). 

The parents of his first love left Post on Sunday. We spent Saturday morning with them in a pool at a hotel where they were staying. The two families went up to their room so we (the Roys) could change. We hung out with them a bit, and right before we left Malachi handed his love a note of scribbles and whispered in her ear. I asked what it says and he wouldn't admit it, but she had a big smile on her face and said "it says I love [insert name]." He was embarrassed but got over it. When we left the room he hugged his love "the most" and her sister "the least." And he admitted as much to each of them. 

That was the last time he saw them, and I imagine the last time he'll see her again for a long time. I wonder if he'll remember this later in life. 

Every time John talks about it he gets a huge grin on his face and is so proud of his boy for his first love. At first, I was so sad that my baby is growing up. Now, I love that he has that emotion to express for someone, and my grin is just as big as my husbands. 


Laurie said...

What a sweet story. I love it!!

Anonymous said...

Now that is precious! I love that you encourage him to share his emotions, thoughts, feelings, etc!!!!

It will be the first of many yicky Mays (is yicky a word?) ... when people pack up .. but if he keeps that up -- being able to be honest, he'll 'go places' !!