Saturday, July 14, 2012

Bye bye, Gretchen's House

Huge hug from Harmony
Big goodbye hug from Harmony

It was a very strange jumble of emotions-- sadness, wistfulness, gratitude, and an odd sort of pride-- as we bade farewell to Gretchen's House this evening. It didn't feel like that long ago when we first visited GH to decide whether or not to send Sophie there, or her first day in the Baby Room 2.5 years ago. It's been her second home since then and she knows the place-- and the people-- pretty much inside out. Sophie knows all the teachers by name, almost all the children in her wing, their siblings, and often, even their parents too! We would choose to send Sophie to GH again if we had to things all over and I really can't think of a better place for Sophie to have spent such a significant part of her life.

Everyone there has taken such wonderful care of her, even if they weren't her primary care givers, and it is obvious that everyone knows her, as in really knows her-- not just her name, but her personality, likes (the Muppets, dinosaurs, sand, and the color purple) and dislikes (spiders, tornadoes, and "scary things"...) And that's where the pride thing comes in. At pick-up today, not only did all the teachers and principal come up to us to say their goodbyes, they were genuinely sad to see Sophie go. Everyone clamored to give her hugs and kisses (sometimes multiple times), some even teared up, and we were made to promise to send emails and photo updates of how Sophie does at her new school in Singapore. Everyone just stood there, morose at having to let her go. And strangely, that was the moment that made us feel that as her parents, we must be doing at least something right. That Sophie's a child people would miss, whose positive presence was something others were sad to see go.

I think a part of Sophie was sad to leave GH. She understood that it's her last day at school; which is why I think she took some time to hang out in the Baby Room, the place where it all started (see here)...

Re-visiting the Baby Room where it all started
Remembering her time in the Baby Room way back when

But the other part of her also couldn't quite understand what the fuss was all about. Her teachers and I were probably more emotional about the whole thing than she was (I started crying the moment we walked out of GH- ask Jude). Sophie knows we're moving to Singapore, but she also told all her teachers and friends that they'll be moving with us. And that they'll be sleeping in her Singapore school ;) So maybe that's why the real sadness of separation didn't really sink in for her. She was more than happy to receive hugs and kisses from everyone and was free and generous with hers, but whether or not she truly comprehended the profundity of the goodbyes, well, that remains to be seen. Who knows if she might wake up one morning a month from now in our apartment in Singapore and start demanding to see her teachers and friends at GH preschool?...

More photos here.

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