Friday, February 17, 2017

New friends

Zoe and I landed around 6:30pm in Stockholm on the Monday evening, just in time to grab sushi in the airport and head home for bed. We had landed at gate 7 ("Mom, how funny, I left from this gate too!"), which took us past the little playground and I gave in to Zoe's plea for 10 minutes play. She quickly made friends with two other bilingual kids her age and I sat down to relax for a bit, happy that she was finally playing with other kids after a mommy-only weekend. "Where are you from?", the girl asked Zoe in her British English that I later overheard she had learned from her dad. Zoe hesitated a bit, "well...", but then said in one breath "I'm from New York, but my mom is Danish and my dad is Scottish and my stepmother in Germain". I was a bit surprised, but also happy to hear that narrative. In her 6 year old life, she has lived in three different countries, four different cities, and that is not including Copenhagen where she has probably spent more time than any of the other places. She often mixes up the US, New York and California (where she was born) and just refer to the US as New York where she feels home like me and still has a lot of friends. But what I also realized was that in not so long she would probably have to add "and I have a stepfather from [a fourth country]". Because it wouldn't be our truly messy lives if I didn't find someone to date who speaks a fourth language and live in a fourth country. Still.

The two other siblings had to leave and the girl kept running back to Zoe for more goodbyes, clearly infatuated by my lovely, funny daughter. Zoe was proud, "look mommy, I made friends, they spoke English", she said as we headed down to the sushi place.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Another week

This morning I made a mental note that our passports were all on a shelf in my parents' living room. I updated the note on my phone an hour later because I knew I wouldn't remember it in a few days, in fact I had thought that they were in the passport drawer in Stockholm. But at one point I had realized that next time we needed to travel outside Scandinavia, Zoe and I, would be the US in early May, when we are attending my yearly core conference, and figured we would fly out of Copenhagen because we leave the day after Zoe's birthday. And hopefully the note on my phone would prevent me from panic when I later wondered where they were.

Scandinavia has a passport union, that has been in place for over fifty years, which means that we don't need to show passport when going between Stockholm and Copenhagen. I once encountered an anomaly, which is when you travel by plane and check in luggage. Then they ask for your passport or ID. Also the child, if the child checks in luggage. That time I happened to have Zoe's passport with me, because that is obviously the only type of ID a child can have (as far as I know, in most countries) and when I asked the check-in lady if she didn't have problems with that often, she snorted that she had never encountered it. Apparently parents rarely check in luggage in their children's name within Scandinavia, who knew?

I'm off to another two days of Stockholm, picking up Zoe from school and being with her until Wednesday morning. Then she flies down to Copenhagen on Friday for a weekend with me here. Another week, another three flights. 

Missing each other

"Mom, I don't want to go back to daddy tomorrow", Zoe cried as she was lying next to me in bed after our usual goodnight story. "I don't like to sleep in my own room, I'm so scared of monsters". I hugged her and said I understood. Five days earlier her dad had yanked the iPad out of her hand while she had been video chatting with me over breakfast, us just talking about her week and that we would see each other that evening, she eating her toast. We were both in a bit of shock, her crying and me asking to at least say goodbye to her. When I picked her up at school later that day, her teacher told me she had been sad and lying on the couch for about an hour in the morning, saying she missed her mom. The teacher had reminded Zoe that she also liked being with her dad, in the true Swedish equality way. Here, the mother and father are exactly the same to a child, no matter the behavior or the parents, no matter the actual feelings of a child. And children need to be constantly reminded that there is something wrong with being closer to one parent, they are supposed to 'like' them equally.

I miss Zoe every minute I'm not with her, (like most moms), but I'm being torn apart when I know she is missing me too. I sometimes wish that we would have a normal life where a break apart is a comfortable diversity, a chance to so something different apart. Instead we stick to one another when we are together because it feels short and limited. We have a lot of fun though, every minute we are together.