Saturday, August 6, 2011

There is something in the air

...and her name is Anguish.

My little girl Monster has already seen a lot of the world at her year age of three. New York City, then a village in Albany and now, the great city of Istanbul, Turkey!
Having moved twice in a single year, naturally raised concerns: what psychological impact will this have on her?

The move to Albany was particularly harsh on her, as she was leaving many dear friends behind that she grew up with. Every day she would ask about her friends and why she cannot see them anymore. We tried to take her to visit the friends as frequently as was possible. Even if we couldn't meet them, the familiar places used to delight her and she would brighten up for a long time till she started missing Sunnyside again.

Eventually, she made friends in Albany...Especially S. I cannot be more grateful for S and her family M.walas for their love and understanding. I would have been embarrassed for her crying fits, but for the lovely girls who assured M in their own special ways and calmed her.
For the intensity with which M loved their family, I have to admit, I was a bit surprised that she didn't ask about them too much during the transition between Albany and Turkey. The answer may have been in the extreme fun times she had hanging out with her two cousins Amal and Rida while we stayed over with my lovely sister.

The first two weeks in Turkey turned out to be harsh on M but in a very different way. Instead of being isolated like we were in Albany, we had constant company! Living with Wizard's brother and his three daughters (while the wife was vacationing with her parents) was harsh and amazing at the same time for M.

After co-sleeping or at least sleeping in her cot in our room for all her life, she had this opportunity to learn to sleep on her own. She and her 4 year old cousin slept in the same room. There were two Cars beds in the room and each night she and Layla somehow came to the agreement over who got to sleep in one bed...they never slept in the same bed twice in a row.
During the day however, it was WAR! There is a lot of selfish sentiment in children here in Turkey, not something I expected to be honest.

I could see M falling into misery as she realized that nothing in the house belonged to her; the 4 year old snatched everything out of her hands that she touched and claimed it as her own. There were some cruel words thrown at her, words like "Nothing belongs to you here, go to your own home!"

Flashes of myself being bullied rushed through my mind, as I inevitably became just what I never wanted to be: the aunt that tells her kids not to play with a certain cousin. I confess, the scar of this same thing happening to me did not stop me from audibly saying to M in Turkish for Layla's benefit "Do NOT play with Layla."

The only consolation I give myself to remind myself that I have NOT in fact turned into my mean aunt, is that I was in fact the victim in my case. To be as cruel as my aunt would mean me telling Layla not to play with M.

I find myself thinking, as I continue to console M by reverting to the mean 5 year old myself to protect her from other 4, 5 yr old the move psychologically impacting M, or ME? I used to be the hands-off parent, the one that shrugs "Deal with it among yourselves" when two kids squabbled over a toy. I used to reason with the snatcher "Can we take turns?" However, here in Turkey, I have on occasion flung the toy in the direction of the snatcher and told them to fuck off (in PG rated words, of course) essentially, that M doesn't need idiots like them around her.

How can these children flare so much hatred in me? How can I actually, for lack of any other word, detest them for a simple age phase of selfishness?

As much as I am otherwise enjoying our cross-continental move, I am anxious about facing a new generation of bullies in the playground. The tricks and attitudes that I learned don't work here, the kids don't understand the concept of "you use it for 5 minutes and then she can have it for 5 minutes." A 5 year old yelled at her friend for not claiming his bicycle back when another kid tried to touch it. She's FIVE! I wanted to smack the bejeesus out of that little shit!
Is this normal? Things are getting better but I still can't help eyeballing the said 5 year old anytime she is eyeballing M for using a shovel or touching the sand near where her royal ass sits. I have often wished (half jokingly) to stick my foot out when she's running in front of me and tripping her.

The bully in me that never was, is rearing its ugly head and I am conflicted. Do I protect my daughter? Or do I sit, observe and learn? Let nature teach M?


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