Move II: What about the children?


In the days leading up to our exodus from Chicago, a change came upon Emmeline. While Jack zipped through the mounting moving boxes that threatened to overrun our apartment, seemingly unaware of their significance, Emme clearly knew that something was going on. Her mood darkened. The bubbly personality that charmed all-comers was eclipsed by unrest, agitation, and melancholy. Her behavior became erratic, veering from manic bursts to detached apathy. At times, she even looked scared.

It got worse when I had to leave to start my new job in Arkansas. During those nerve-wracking ten days, I lived for the Skype call we had each night right before the twins went to bed. Jack was his normal, tired, loopy self, but Emme wouldn’t talk to me. She would barely even look at me. It was then that I realized that Emme wasn’t just frightened by all the change swirling around her; she was mad.

All her anger melted away when I returned to Chicago two days before the move. I will never forget the surprise, joy, and relief I saw on her face as I came through the door unannounced. I will never forget the strength of her tiny little arms around my neck as she gave me one of the fiercest hugs I have ever received. And I will never forget the panic in her eyes and voice when I tried to leave the room.

It’s not surprising that she was so affected. Lara and I were barely keeping ourselves together with all the anxiety and stress. Emme has always been the empathetic one, so I’m sure she soaked it all up like a sponge. This was compounded by the fact that we would be leaving Jessica the Wonder Nanny behind, which was one of the hardest aspects of the ordeal for everyone involved.

All of this was fresh in our minds as Lara and I began our house hunting four months later. We had many conversations about it, speculating how she might react to another big change so soon after the last one. Sure, she had immediately acclimated to the rental house and its uncharted geography, expansiveness, and benefits—like the gigantic back yard that was only a few steps away—but that might mean she would take the second move even harder.

And what about Jack? He had seemed more concerned about which DVD he got to watch during the trip more than anything else, but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t have any problems now. His development has been almost exactly six months behind his sister’s; since that was the same amount of time since we had left Chicago, would his reaction to the second move mirror Emme’s reaction to the first?

We needn’t have worried. Whether it was because we introduced the concept of the “new house” early or because they had become more accustomed to a changing environment, Jack and Emme took the whole thing in stride.

In fact, they were pretty excited about it. “Go see new house!” became a familiar refrain in the days leading up to the move. We thought the keys would be left for us at our new place one day earlier than they actually were, resulting in an anticlimactic trip to the house where the kids sadly looked through the windows and repeatedly asked “Go in?” The next day, they zoomed through the empty rooms, squealing, screaming, and exploring. Emme was so hyped up that she ran into the full frame screen door that leads to the deck at top speed, like a bird slamming into a plate glass window. It didn’t diminish her delight in the slightest.

When we finally brought them to the new house for good, they winded their way through the now familiar towers of dun-colored cardboard, past the bare living room, and into the untouched kitchen to find what their mother had worked on as her first priority—their playroom, recreated exactly as they had left it in the rental house.

As they tore into the neatly organized bookshelves and tidy bins of toys, they knew that they were home.

Marsha - July 25, 2013 - 10:45 pm

I’ve been following both of the blogs with much interest during all of your moving adventures and I’m so happy that you are getting settled. And I was especially glad to hear that Emme and Jack have made the transition. I truly think that these experiences will help them in the long run. This post was very captivating! Best wishes to you all….Marsha