Friday, March 7, 2008

Breaking Hearts ("Twelve" sounds too much like "nineteen.")

"Dvenadzat" sounds a lot like "dyevatnadzat." "Twelve." "Nineteen." As in, "12 p.m." and "7 p.m." (military time--24-hour clock used in Russia).

When spoken quickly (as in, at dismissal from school with lots of background noise), you can easily confuse the numbers.

And so, today, less than three hours ago, Katya ended up being the only first grader whose family didn't show up for the huge school "My Family" celebration. She just sat there, waiting for me to come in the door, while everyone else's parents arrived. And they all waited for me (Chris is in New York on business) while the teacher tried to call. (She says she tried our home phone three times, but it never rang! I was right next to it all day! And she didn't try my mobile! If only Katya had brought her own mobile phone to school! THAT would have been an appropriate emergency use of the darn thing!)

And so the show went on, without us. Tomorrow is International Women's Day, the Russian equivalent of Mother's Day, only it's much, much more important here. There were special skits and dances for all the moms, the kids gave their moms presents, etc. All the kids except Katya.

As a grand finale to the "My Family" projects each child had done, every family shared a game or tradition with group. Katya and I were supposed to teach the kids to play Cranium Hullaballoo, but I was bringing the game with me this evening. After she stopped sobbing, Katya decided to sing a song for everyone. She did a great job, but then sunk into deep sadness afterwards.

I know all this because at 1:55 p.m. I got a call from her friend's mom, the friend who had invited us to her birthday party last week. The mom was pretty shocked we hadn't come to the party--as I'm sure every single parent from the class who watched her cry was. I mean, WHAT MOM WOULDN'T COME FOR THE MOTHER'S DAY PARTY??????!!!! Lena, the mom, could tell how flabbergasted and pained I was and I hope she spread the word a little... She asked if they could bring Katya home with them to try to cheer her up; all the other kids were leaving early with their parents after the party.

Okay, I'm sitting here in front of the computer still unshowered... I'd ironed my outfit for the party at SEVEN P.M./"NINETEEN O'CLOCK" and was finishing up filing our insurance claim forms for 2007. Yeah, a huge chunk of those claim forms are for the treatment Katya has received for anoxic reflex seizures--SEIZURES BROUGHT ON BY EMOTIONAL DURESS AND STRESS. Way to go on that front, Mom. The irony kills me.

I am numb with shock, with sadness. I, personally, had been looking forward to this party for months! I relish the chance to observe Katya at school! And all other parents would be there--a great chance to get to know the kids and their families better. The theme was such fun, too--and I knew that everyone was eager for Katya's presentation since she's the only foreigner. And the PICTURES I'd have taken! I'm a blogger, people! And a scrapbooker!

Then there's the heartbreak for Katya, thinking of the pain she went through wondering where on earth I was. She knew I planned on being there and she knew I thought it was in the evening--we'd discussed whether she'd go to school already in her nice dress or put it on later, etc. I hope that that knowledge softened the blow a bit--she KNOWS I'd never intentionally not show up. Nevertheless, that other mom put her on the phone--and she was lower than low. "You broke my heart into the brokenest pieces, Mom."

Next will likely come the anger as the pain wears off... Even if she can reflect enough to not take it out on me, she'll be furious about the language misunderstanding--and that will lead to rage about why do we have to live in a different culture with a different language at all. THAT **will** be directed at me, and only me--Chris won't yet be back from New York.

Oh, and yeah... About Chris's return from New York... The girls think he's coming back tomorrow... We were planning to surprise him by meeting him at the airport with balloons since it's his birthday. (We fly so much and it's such a hassle to get the airport that we don't usually personally meet each other's planes--we use taxis). I just found out from his secretary, though, that he's trying to change his ticket and most likely won't be back until Monday at the earliest. The girls will both be very upset about that and they'll end up unintentionally taking that out on me, too.

Today really s*cks.

Edited: Chris didn't change his ticket, so he'll be back tomorrow. That's good... Having him home will help Katya to feel better. Katya is already in better spirits; her friend's mom called and said they drove out to their dacha. Katya is going to spend the night; it's her first sleepover since her best friend moved back to Sweden in May.


Muddy said...

I'm so sorry. Praying for you guys there.

Tina in CT said...

I was so upset to hear you this morning when you called me as my alarm was about to go off. I know how crushed you and Katya are and what a big deal this was for her at school. I just can't imagine how she felt. Here in the US, the teachers would have sent home multiple notices on it and don't understand why that is not done there. They should not rely on the word getting home to the parents through young kids. With your being the only foreignor, why didn't the teacher personally call you about this program ahead of time? I just can't picture our little Katya there waiting for you and Natalia to show up. It was so hard to get ready for work this morning with it heavy on my mind and heart. You both worked so very hard on the family visual board and it's so sad that this happened. I give Katya much, much credit for being able to get up there and sing an American Girl song. She is a trooper. That was so nice of her classmate's mother to call and invite her home with them. The teacher SHOULD have called your cell since the home phone did not get through.

garnet said...

Oh, wow, I feel terrible just reading the story. I feel bad for your daughter, but even worse for you as I know how *I'd* feel if I -- even inadvertantly like this -- missed something special for my daughter. And her project was so beautiful.

I do admire that she was able to perform the song. I can't ever imagine my daughter doing that after suffering even a much smaller disappointment. She'd be all inconsolable tears.

And I'm glad she's getting something to cheer her up. Hope she has a wonderful time at her sleepover.

garnet said...

Oh, yes, and meant to add, I know something of what a big day Women's Day is. When I was teaching in China my partner became engaged to a Chinese guy and they were unable to get married on March 8 because the person supposed to officiate was a female and had gone home from work.

Then, of course, this was a big day in Romania as well. We had fun when we took a group of kids from our U.S. school there for a mission trip to work with some orphanages. We arrived on the 8th and one of the male staff in our group quickly figured this out and bought all the women flowers.

Tina in CT said...

That is so nice for Katya to be invited to her friend's dacha and it'll help get her mind off the scheduling mishap with the presentation. When she gets home, her father will be home on his birthday.

Rachael said...

Oh, poor Katya and poor you. That does completely s*ck.

Melissa Q. said...

tam, so sorry. hope that maybe she can do her presentation another day with the kids and you and make it something special!


Nataliya said...

Oh no! So sorry you missed it! I know how important "8 Marta" party is, and I can imagine how bad you must be feeling now... Well, it wasn't your fault - they should've given you the time info in writing!

At least Chris is coming home on time, so hopefully Katya'll feel better!

Annie said...

I am sharing your sorrow. I literally am sitting here with tears in my eyes. I know only too well the nearly unbearable grief of causing your child pain. How awful. At least you have the knowledge that she knows and YOU know it was an honest, true mistake. But, the pain of losing these precious moments, that once in a lifetime experience. My heart is breaking into little pieces for you. By the grace of God the initial hurt of these things will fade.... but until then you'll feel the need to keep prodding it like a toothache until bit by bit the agony will fade... And everything will be OK again. I am so, so sorry.

Tami said...

Awwww honey! How awful for both of you. I'm sure she'll forgive you soon. In the meantime I'm sure Chris' return will help soften the blow. ((hugs))