The real reason, the REAL REAL reason I have not written in so long is this one story that is so hard to write. But………………here goes.
In November of 2009 a 16 year old Serbian girl moved in with my family. Random, right? Not so much in my world. I work at a school, she was an exchange student, and her original host family situation went SOUTH, so much. So my boss was all.. Lisa, you have a guest cottage, a huge heart, and you can’t say no ( as he heard from my college days).
I couldn’t say no, even though our cottage was really a workout room/storage room/hubby’s office. I couldn’t say no, even though we were already living paycheck to paycheck. I couldn’t say no because she was 16, on the other side of the world from her mom, and crying. “Just until we figure out a new permanent host family,” says my boss. “Probably just the weekend.” Well, Bojana was hardly with us 24 hours before we all decided WE were going to be her permanent host family.
I’ll never forget her first night with us and listening to her tearful and passionate skype conversation with her parents back home in Serbia. We couldn’t understand a word, but it was very intense. She was pissed, defeated, sad, homesick, and like I said, we couldn’t understand any words.
So, I’ve thought so much for too long about what I would write about our ‘B.’ I could do this as a timeline of her stay. What Christmas was like, the winter, spring, blah blah. Screw that. That’s what I had. I want to tell you about what I HAVE now:
A daughter, on the other side of the world from her mom. Yeah. That.
Lots of people host international students, and love it. Friends for life, cultural experiences shared, and that is pretty much what Mark and I thought we were in for. But B was so fluent in English, people could rarely detect an accent. Culturally, she was just like any typical American teenage girl. She danced in her room, loved online fashion sites, had crushes on boys, and hated homework. But there is something more that I find so hard to describe.
See? This is why I haven’t written in months! How do I describe this relationship, give its depth justice, and not come off sounding creepy?
My whole family fell in love with Bojana. Oh, I could say, who wouldn’t?! She is fun, loving, adorable, goofy, and so beautiful she makes you gasp sometimes. She loved my children so much, and still does. But, I think it was mostly B and I that fell for each other. If we were the same age we would with out a doubt be the best of friends, but I had the role of ‘host mom’ which brought some challenges to our friendship. I had to say:
There is no way you are leaving the house in a skirt that short.
Get your homework done or you can not go out with your friends this weekend.
Come out of your room.
Clean your room.
Be home by 11:00 pm.
And sometimes I had to say:
Don’t give up. I’ll help you. Please don’t cry. You can do this. Don’t sell yourself short. You ARE smart. I am always here for you. How can I cheer you up?
I love you.
Now, here’s the thing: I said this to her a year ago, and I said this to her last week. We are still that close, and both agree we will always be. Always. We skype a few times a month and FaceBook weekly. She’s hit a rough patch with schoolwork and things back home. I swear I could feel it thousands of miles away. And so, we are both really missing each other. She has a wonderful, loving family, and that is comforting. But I want to hug her.
So much more than an international connection. So much more than sharing your home with someone for a year. So much more than a friendship.
Not many moms can say they discovered that they had a teenage daughter on the other side of the world but that’s what I have now.
Love you B.