On Tuesday, Alex went to work in the city for the day, and returned late that night, to be home when the boys awoke. The last time this happened, I almost ran away from home. It was a horrible experience for all of us. However, many weeks have passed, Habtamu and Lire understand a lot more English and trust us more. It had to go more smoothly, right?
We prepared for it. I made cardboard cut-outs of our car, the bus, our house and "the city," along with cut-outs of all four of us to fit into the cars/house. We acted out all of us getting into the car, driving Daddy to the bus, then Daddy getting onto the bus, working in "the city," and then coming home again, in time for breakfast.
Habtamu loved the story and played with the figures and repeated it to us in his own words. (thanks, MEMF!) Lire just wanted to make sure the Lire figure was in the car at all times.
The day arrived.
The bus was eagerly awaited. We had told them that it was "BIG," which it is. The bus drove up and idled in front of us and the large group of people waiting with us. Daddy cheerfully said "Goodbye."
That was it. Screams, screams and more blood-curdling screams. We had to pry H's arms away from Alex. Meanwhile, poor L. sat on the bench and cried, understandably disturbed. Alex got on, the bus drove away, and Habtamu screamed. I tried to walk him to our car while carrying the sobbing Lire, but it would have probably dislocated H.'s shoulder. Instead all three of us sat in the dirt by the sidewalk, to allow other people to pass.
At times like this, you can either rebel, or accept. I wanted to grab him and yell -- STOP IT!!! I wished I could pick both of them up and drive home to let him scream in private. Maybe if I were Wonderwoman. I considered asking a passerby to carry L. while I carried the screaming H. That image brought a smile to my gritting teeth.
None of these things were going to work, so I gave in and just sat, waiting for him to stop. It was a hot, sunny day. I imagined how nice it would be at the beach later, if we could ever get there. H. tried half-heartedly to walk away down the street, but I held him, and I could tell he didn't really want me to let him go. I spoke soothingly to him about Daddy coming home, about going to the store for yogurt, about swimming at the beach. And we sat some more.
Three cement trucks drove by, and Lire cried, "Mommy, ooh!" His crying was done. I'm not even sure he knew why he was crying in the first place. H. stopped to look, and then substitued the screams for his usual moaning cry, which is much easier on the ears. We were able to walk across the street to the car, when I noticed the police car parked nearby. I couldn't see into the window because of the glare, though I could tell someone was sitting in the car. Isn't it weird how police cars make you feel instantly guilty? Is it just me? I felt like I had to have a story ready in case they came out and asked why I was torturing this child. Of course, no one came out of the car.
An ambulance drove by, sirens blaring. This was enough to stop H's moaning. Top it off with the fact that our neighbor was in the passenger seat and waved, well, that got Lire singing with glee. H. actually looked interested.
At the grocery store, H. perked up considerably and helped carry all of our purchases, and asked "Mommy, beach?" Yes, beach! The rest of the day went swimmingly.
We talked more about where Daddy was, how he'd be home for breakfast, how we all loved and missed him. He did punch Daddy's photograph at one point, but it was kind of funny, so we all laughed.
There were tears at bedtime, and H. ended up sleeping on the floor in protest of Daddy's absence. However, he fell asleep immediately, and only awoke once. I was able to comfort him (and his brother, who awoke in solidarity), and the two of them slept in the same bed for the rest of the night. Lire was tickled about it the next morning and wants to repeat the experience, but Habtamu will have none of it. "No. Habtamu's bed."
The smile on H's face the next morning was way too cute when he saw that, indeed, Daddy was home, as promised. L. decided Daddy had to know the whole story and told him, in Lire-ese, about the crying, the ambulance, the beach, all of it. Twice. Three times.
I don't think we'll have to go through this again for another month and a half, hopefully the screaming will be less or non-existent by then.