I need a parenting manual. Seriously, where do I get one of those?
I know my older daughter Dylan never wanted to move to Florida. I could tell because she did subtle things like leave a note every night by my bedside saying, “PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME MOVE.” And there were a lot of tears.
We promised her swimming, new friends, an adventure, a summer that never ends!
She responded by saying that sledding was the passion of her life.
I honestly thought that once we got into the groove of the sunshine state (which by the way, they are totally not kidding about because the sun here is fierce) that she would be happy. She was in 3rd grade. She’d be fine. Kids are resilient. Kids go with the flow!
There was no flow. She cried about missing her best friend and at one point, through streams of tears said, “But what about Lucas!” Who the hell was Lucas (name has been changed to protect some boy I never heard of), I thought? Apparently he had been in her class in New York for the last two years and now his absence was crushing.
Her school (although academically rigorous) was too big with very short recesses, strict rules and less focus on the arts than her New York school. Both my daughters had great teachers but somehow, Dylan’s spirit was wilting.
I tried to honor her feelings. I tried to tell her to be brave and keep moving forward. Sometimes in frustration, I told her to be more grateful for all the wonderful things in her life. Sometimes I just hugged her through my own tears because I honestly had no words. What was I supposed to say, I wondered?
So this year I moved Dylan and her younger sister Summer to a much smaller charter school. With no bus service, I’m doing a lot more driving and I’m pretty convinced that Florida is the most gigantic state ever. Like way bigger than Texas. I’m sure of it.
I could barely breathe the first day of school as I waited to find out how it all went.
And at the end of the day, I got a “good” from Dylan. By the end of the week, we were still in the good territory and she said her teacher was very nice. This was promising indeed.
Then we went to the beach. It was a gorgeous day and we found a great parking spot. We splashed into the water with our boogie boards where it quickly became clear that the jellyfish were out in full force.
After a young girl was stung, we quickly retreated to the shore where Dylan downward spiraled into a pit of misery about not being able to swim, missing New York, her friends, her old school and of course sledding.
Damn you jellyfish.
Of course, she has recovered. And her second week of school seems to be going well.
I still can’t quite exhale.
I only hope that someday when she faces tough challenges in life she’ll be able to say, “My parents made me move to Florida. And it was really hard. But now I know I can survive anything.”
I’m guessing she’ll be saying it from her apartment in New York.