It would be easy to read this blog, or any of my other social media posts, and assume that moving continents is a breeze and that Canberra is paradise, but of course, real life isn’t like that and it’s only right that I talk about some of the difficulties too.
One of these difficulties presented itself a few nights ago when I crept into mini-CBRbound’s bedroom for a final goodnight. I found him crying and scared, which is very out of character. “What’s the matter?” I asked. “I don’t like this house,” he sobbed.
It’s actually a pretty nice house, albeit a little sparse while our furniture and belongings duck-paddle their way from Scandinavia to Australia. But that wasn’t the point. The conversation wasn’t really about the room, as I was about to find out.
“I miss my friends from my old football team,” he continued, which is understandable – football was a big part of mini-CBRbound’s life in Denmark. He had training twice a week, and played in a tournament nearly every weekend. But the conversation wasn’t really about football, either. It was about change.
Mini-CBRbound is a resilient sort. Despite being the younger brother, at eight years-old, he’s the tougher of our two boys; the most confident, too. One of the most revealing stories I can tell you about him is from his first day at school, in Denmark.
My wife took him into the playground where all the other kids were playing, chatting, chasing each other and kicking balls around, but mini-CBRbound just went and sat on a step by himself. “Come on,” said my wife. “Don’t you want to go and join in with all the others?” “Nah,” he replied. “I’ll wait here. They’ll come to me.”
The funny thing is, a few more minutes went by, and they did. They came over to see who this confident little kid was and instead of him asking if he could join their games, they invited him.
My wife and I often speculated whether his confidence stemmed from stability. Our house in Denmark was the house he came home to as a baby. His room there was the only room he’d ever known. The same was true of our local neighbourhood.
He joined the local football team at four years-old and, over four years, became a big personality in the team, if not its most skilful player. Last summer, at a four-day international tournament, his little team bonded during the time away and became a gang, with him at the centre of things. They reached the semi-finals too, and chatted about their success for weeks afterwards.
Change has hit him hard. Yes, he loves Canberra. Yes, he is cock-a-hoop to be able to ride ponies here – a lifelong ambition. And, yes, he understands that being here means a lot to the rest of the family too.
But when your tough little bounce-along bruiser of a boy cries himself to sleep because he misses everything he’s ever known, it would take a hard soul not to empathise.
He was better the next morning. He’s slowly making friends and eagerly looking forward to the start of the football season. But he’s been affected by the disruption of our move, and it’s dented his confidence more than a touch.
He’s wise enough to articulate what he’s feeling rather than bottling it all up. That’s where we come in – us, the rest of his family. It’s our job to smooth out the bumps and to hold his hand until he’s back to his normal self. We’ve each had moments of homesickness over the past few weeks, me included, but seeing it in the smallest in our family stings most of all.