When we moved to London two years ago, Zachary was twenty-one months old.  He had maybe fifty words, half of them animal sounds.  Somewhere over the Atlantic he picked up the English language, and in our first week there he acquired several new words a day plus started putting two words together.  By his second birthday, there was no limit to his sentence length.

            The biggest issue in that move was that he was instantly lonely.  He wanted children to play with, structure, and friends.  He was too young for school, so we got him into toddler classes right away.  In those classes, he showed a social confidence we had never seen before.

            Moving, it appeared, shook up Zach’s world enough to cause some serious cognitive growth spurts.  Unfortunately, it also precipitated a hunger strike, and it was over a week before he had a day when he ate more than a few bites of anything.

            So, this time around, we prepared.  We expected our picky three-and-a-half-year-old to starve himself for a week.  Instead, his brother, the one who eats anything, stopped eating.  Well, not completely, but he certainly cut back in his outrageous caloric intake.  Zachary, on the other hand, is suddenly eating more.  And trying new foods.  Once again, it appears that moving is spurring some serious cognitive growth, and hopefully some other types of growth, as well.

            But, yet again, he was instantly lonely.  Being in a whole new place, with new vegetation and new road signs and new foods was fine, but he needed friends and he needed structure.  Fortunately, this time we knew what we were getting into, and we had a school all lined up to start five days after we got here.

            I stayed with him the first day, as it was a “visit.”  Ten minutes in, a little boy in his class came running over on the playground.  “Zach,” he said, “do you want to come on the pirate ship with me?”  And off they went, hand in hand.  A big change from little Timmy, the frienemy he had contended with in London.  And, although Zach was still a little shy throughout the day, he joined in every activity, with the children including him every step of the way.

            The next day, I was with Benjamin in his toddler class down the hall.  I peeked my head over the wall in Zach’s class, and his teacher looked at me, pointing to the little blond head bent over his painting.  “I am amazed,” she said.  “It’s like he’s been here all year.” 

            Zach, however, had a different story to tell.  Over and over again, he just kept saying, “The teachers let us go outside to play twice,” in a voice struck that such wonders could ever exist.  In London, of course, he only got to play outside once each day, during the twenty minutes it stopped raining.  Here in Los Angeles, however, the teachers are working with what they’ve got, and what they’ve got is sunshine.   So, out they go, twice in the three hours they are in preschool.

            I think all that outside play time is making him hungry. 

30 responses to “Growth

  1. It’s funny but moving a lot has actually been a very good thing for my children. They are easily able to make friends, they are confident in new situations and are, even the shy one, willing to try out new things and dive into new experiences far more than many of their peers. I felt so guilty about the constant up-rooting for so long that it’s nice to find a positive side to it as well.

  2. It is great that both boys are enjoying their new school settings. I hope it continues to be positive for them. In our last move, one of the three had a rough go for the first few months. Now seven months into it, another one of our fellows is falling apart– completely apart. Move related or not? Who ever knows….

  3. Oh, that is so terrific! You couldn’t have asked for better! Welcome back to the States!

  4. Making new friends is one of the harder parts of adjusting to a new environment – thankfully they both seem to be starting off on the right foot.

    Hooray for the land of sunshine!

  5. Sounds like sunshine is the ticket! I hope the adjustment goes as well for you.

  6. Glad to know you got there safely.. and that sounds like a great development. 🙂

  7. I never underestimate the power of the outdoors! I know his progress must be making your heart so happy.
    I hope that you and J are adjusting as well – welcome back to the States!!!

  8. Loving the good news!

    I’m looking forward to September when Lorenzo will start pre-school. I think he will love the socialization and structure.

  9. That is fabulous news!

  10. It’s great that they’re adjusting so well. Outside, two times, is excellent.

  11. ah….a proper california welcome..

    seriously, what a weight lifted if the kids are adjusting as well as can be. welcome to the states.

  12. That makes perfect sense to me. I’m so glad he’s finding the transition easier on this end. My kids have lived in the same town, same house all their lives (They are 9 and 13) I really would like to move back to my homestate, but I honestly don’t know how they would cope.

    Welcome back!

  13. That’s wonderful news. I’m really happy to know that the kids are adjusting well!

    (And I hope their parents are, too.)

  14. Oh, hooray for Zach! I’m so happy he found a little niche right away, since I know how exhausting and overwhelming everything has seemed for all of you, but especially your sensitive guy, during this last week or so.

    Also, the lots of sunshine and chances to get outdoors thing? You will love it so much as a welcome way to entertain the kiddos. Friday, I took a book outside, gave Bean a cup, blue kid shovel, and a plastic tub of water, and he “gardened” while I alternately read and joined in for two hours. A light breeze was blowing. He chattered to himself happily and got filthy. I accepted many gifts of dandelion flowers. Good times. 🙂

  15. Yea! I love how kids can form friendships in a matter of minutes.

  16. Good for him!

    I so know the struggle of having a finicky eater!!

    I wish sunshine would do the trick for mine! 😦

  17. Sunshine sounds like the cure-all (bullies, picky appetites, reserved natures)…sounds good to me. Hope that YOU are settling in as well as the kiddos.

  18. how wonderful that everyone is settling in so well. so happy the school is working out.

  19. that’s so cool how they each cope with big adjustments in their own ways, or at least in ways differentiated by age. and how cool to get to play outside! it’s still freezing here. can i come live in your new house too? i promise you won’t have to worry about a hunger strike.

  20. Kids are amazing, and I’m so happy that they’re adjusting to the new place.

    Give ’em both a snuggle for me 🙂

  21. OH! Hooray for sun, Hooray for friends that include, and Hooray for having a pirate ship at school!!!! That is just too cool!
    Hugs to you all

  22. Absolutely perfect!

  23. Oh, I am so glad. Zach sounds so adorable, I could eat him and his little gregarious nature right up! And I love that the kids at his new school are including him. Hugs for everyone!

  24. So glad that the boys are adjusting so well so far! And yay for new friends!! How are YOU adjusting?

  25. just getting caught up on my blog fixes…gald to hear you are back and hope the bug is gone…they sure grow up fast – so glad the little guy is liking his new school. How are you doing??

  26. Ahhh, what is it with food? I always identified in my son an equation between appetite and zest for life. When nothing happened, when his friends were away, he would pick at white foods. A bout of rigourous play and he was tucking into a meal. I am so very glad to hear that this move is working out so well. There’s nothing like seeing children settle to make you feel at home.

  27. Pingback: The other child… « Wheels on the bus

  28. i am so glad this is working out for him!

  29. Glad to hear you all are adjusting well. It does seem to be a nice place to live.