Sunday, May 9, 2010

Brandon's last day(s)...

Well, if I thought Ryan's last day at school was's only because I hadn't anticipated Brandon's last day being SO MUCH harder. I kept trying to talk to Brandon about his last day coming up and asked him if he would like to celebrate with a cake in his class. Of course, the answer was 'yes.'

So, when I picked him up on his last day of school, he came down the stairs with a big smile on his face. Whew, I thought, his last day went well and he seems to be ok. I asked him about his day and he told me all about it...playing with his friends, eating the cake...pretty much being the center of attention all day long. He received little cards from all of his classmates, telling him their feelings about him leaving.

I read those in the car...OMG! Kids this age don't have the emotional inhibitions that they will eventually develop as older kids and reading the cards got me very teary eyed. Brandon said he had not read them yet, but wanted to read them before bed when he had more time.

His seemingly good last day at school could have also been 'good' because him and his closest friends were anticipating Brandon's 'farewell' party the next day. He had missed several IMPORTANT school events that coincided and happened all in a row, during the recent trip to Guilin we took. He had been quite upset about it and my friend (whose house I'm staying) suggested a farewell party - just for him and his friends. I thought that was pretty extraordinary of her to offer her house up and we went ahead and planned one for Brandon. Brandon got to help with the planning of it, so he could really get excited about it.

So, the day after his last day at BISS, all his closest little friends came over for a football/disco party...with pizza and soda. There were about 10 kids there, including the little siblings we had already here at the house. They played football/soccer at the clubhouse for a while and played on the outdoor play structure. Then, we came to the house...they ate and drank to their hearts' content...and then we turned down the lights and they danced the night away to loud music.

One of the parents came about 1/2 hour before the party ended and did a very special send off for Brandon. She had all the kids sign and say something nice to Brandon on a chinese "wishing light" or paper lantern. Then, when it was dark outside, they lit the wax base and the lantern filled with hot air. After a few minutes, it lifted off into the night air and could be seen floating away for a very long time. The kids were SOOOOOO excited about this activity! Their little imaginations flew right along with the lantern and they talked, excitedly, about how the lantern was going to fly all the way to America and maybe Brandon's Grandma and Grandpa would see it. I suggested that his Auntie and Uncle might also see it. His eyes were all lit up with these suggestions. One of his friends exclaimed that he may even see it outside the window of the airplane! They asked if it would go into space...and the dad said, "Yep." They all exclaimed over that thought and another friend asked what the aliens would think if they saw it floating in space. It was soooooooo cute!!! And Brandon LOVED the did all the little kids. They watched the lantern for a very long time.

What I hadn't expected...and neither did Brandon...was the gifts for Brandon that came with the kids for the party. While I can certainly appreciate the thought...the parents may have forgotten that I'm living out of suitcases right now!! Ugh! One of the presents was a brand new, shiny soccer ball. After the lantern activity, they had a "ball" (pun intended here) kicking that around well into the evening.

So, all in all, the party went very well. All the kids had LOTS of fun! However, at some point, it was time to say 'goodbye.' :-( As each child left, Brandon said an individual goodbye, took pictures with his friend and gave them a hug...and eventually watched each one of them walk out of his little life, forever.

That's when it hit a ton of bricks. Grief. Plain and a way I hadn't seen him express in a very long time. He cried (sobbed, really) for about one and half hours, consistently, until he fell asleep exhausted. He told me he doesn't want to leave China...he didn't want to leave his school...that he will miss his friends. He asked why he couldn't stay at his school until the end, like the other children. He wanted to know why we had to leave China. He asked specifically about Allen's new job and why he had to leave. He told me he didn't want to move to a place that had only rocks in the yard and that it was harder to play soccer. He wants GRASS! Hmmm...all tough questions and concerns. Again, it may have been helpful to have Allen help explain some of this as well. But, he just had me and I hope that what little comfort I could (or at least tried to) give him, sustains him until his little life can "normalize" once again.

Ryan is also "acting up" more often now. He is hitting and pushing and taking toys away from his little friends more often. Both the boys are showing signs of stress, which tells me it's good that we will be finally moving on soon.

On a side note...

Brandon's farewell party was really the first chance I had to see him interact with all of his friends from school. It was really neat to see him enjoy their company so much. I also got to see him with his little girlfriend, Karen. It was soooo sweet how he included her in EVERYTHING! He wouldn't run faster than her if she lagged behind. He suggested she play in all the boy games with him. He shared his seat with her to eat pizza. You could see that they had an "understanding" between each other. If the other boys were doing something that looked like fun to him, he wouldn't engage in the activity until she agreed to join in too. It was WAY cute! Also, Brandon seemed pretty popular with his friends. He never looked unsure of himself. He guided their activities and tried to "resolve" conflict between some of them. It was neat to see.

The cards his friends wrote just about broke my heart. They all said goodbye in their own little ways, drawing pictures and writing their feelings. There were soooo many little girls who expressed their love for him and that he was their very bestest friend...who I had never heard of before. He had never even mentioned them to me. No wonder why Brandon doesn't want to leave! haha If he's anything...he's definitely smart. ;-)

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