My Bumpy Girl is not entirely happy in our new life in Melbourne. I’m not exactly sure if that’s because she’s genuinely not enjoying herself or, as her brother so distinctly put it, because “nothing makes her happy!”.
Quite possibly, it’s a little of both.
The Bump is, by nature, a contrary soul, always more than comfortable to declare she “does not like!!” various ideas, facts, flavours, feelings, and concepts.
She’s happier still to make the point that she ‘loves’ things others may not. Rainy days. Liquorice. Long drives. Being cranky. (“Why do you yell all the time, Bump? Doesn’t it make you cranky?” “I like yelling. And I like being cranky!!”)
Her older brother takes to life in Melbourne the way he takes to most things– a well worn glove, an easy going shrug. Water that rolls off the far-too-old feathers of my little ducklings back. The Chop adores his new life here. He loves his school. He loves the busyness of the city, the trams and bikes and new people to chat to. The street art excites him, the culture of music and movement is his haven. He misses his old school and his old friends still, sure. But I’ve watched him open and bloom since we’ve moved here. He sucks in this new environment as though it’s oxygen and sunlight, and spreads his soul to it accordingly.
But my baby girl… she breaks my heart. She doesn’t like it here, she tells me. She wants to go back to our TinyTrainHouse, back to her old school where she was so comfortable and had so many friends. She would like to go back to New South Wales, she says, and live with her Nonna– my mum.
Ouch, ouch, ouch. Hearing your child say something like that hurts in an undignified, immature way. You know they don’t mean it. You know the very thought of you leaving them would, in reality, be unbearable to them.
But even knowing all that, it still pulls at that place deep inside where you feel soft and vulnerable. It makes you want to cuddle up next to them a cry a few little tears for yourself, for how it hurts to hear that.
Despite what she tells me, I watch her ever-so-slowly settle further into her life here as the time slides along. She becomes more content as she forgets how life was before, and accepts it as it is now. I watch as she timidly makes new friends at her kindergarten. I feel it as she and I become closer, love each other more and more.
It’s heartbreaking and satisfying, both at once. It’s about finding some kind of confidence that, despite that horrible experience we shared, despite that deficit I always feel is there, I can love her enough. I can love her all that she needs.