This is the time of year that many of us bid farewell to dear friends, a normal routine for career expats. When children lose their best friends, it just breaks a parent’s heart. We teach our kids to deal with such a loss by promising to keep in touch, hoping to see one another again, and then by letting go.
This year, my youngest daughter will have the hardest time. Molly has been her best friend since the 1st grade when her family arrived in Beijing. We live in the same compound, the girls are in the same grade, and they just have sweet, compatible personalities. They rarely have major disagreements, and both Molly’s mom and I are amazed that they don’t tire of each other more often than they do. The girls like to play the same things and they simply enjoy spending time together.
As the school weeks were winding down, Molly’s conflicted emotions started to kick in. Part of her was sad to leave friends and certain aspects of Beijing. Some emotions included fear of the unknown where she’s going, and starting all over with making new friends. At the same time, she was encouraged to be excited about those new changes coming up, and about simple things like the easier communication and fun shopping that awaits her. Mixed emotions for sure.
On my end, Ava measured her mood by watching Molly’s. If Molly was quiet, Ava believed something was amiss between them, rather than thinking Molly was wistful about leaving. If Molly was excited about the move, Ava felt that she’d be easily replaced as her best friend. Neither child could quite comprehend what the moms knew – that this is all normal, it’s all ok. Hard to watch, though.
This is a special friendship, and Molly’s mom and I have become close friends as well. Saying goodbye will be hard on all of us, but I know we will meet again. I promised Ava that we wouldn’t leave for summer break before Molly’s family flew out for the final time, and I kept my promise. While they will say goodbye this afternoon, we will take an early flight out tomorrow morning.
Impossible to convey to these girls now, they are learning a coping skill that they will appreciate as they grow older. They are learning about adaptation, too, with both meeting new friends in the fall.
It hurts to watch and it hurts to say goodbye. As my own mother (a former military wife) used to tell me, in her circles friends never said “goodbye” but “see ya” instead. They trusted that their paths would cross once again someday.
See ya, Molly.