The First Week

The first morning (after the rocky introduction to the house the day before) was like a fresh start for everyone. It was actually very exciting.  Both girls were having digestive system issues, and so right after waking up, Annie and Daddy got to figure out how to use the shower, and Mommy got to learn where the cleaning supplies were, so she could clean the bathroom.  Everyone felt refreshed and wide-awake, ready to start a new day!

That first day they found the important things: the local playground (it was a little scary – the slide was very tall and fast, and the see-saw went way up high into the sky – but most of the swings were fun), and the library.


Annie decided right away that it was important to be beautiful in this strange new place. She only had one outfit that was suitable: a sparkly purple sleeveless princess dress. Annie wanted to wear this all day, every day. Mommy and Daddy pointed out that it would get messed up playing outside; that Annie would be cold; that she would skin her knees when she fell down; that it wouldn’t do to wear the same clothes day after day – but Annie knew that beauty was more important. She had to wear her dress. It felt like the world would fall apart if she weren’t allowed to wear that dress. Mommy had packed many, many pairs of jeans for Annie to wear, but had not consulted Annie about this. Annie hated jeans. Whenever a pair of jeans came near her, she had to scream and kick. She might consider wearing another beautiful dress, grudgingly, but NOT with jeans, pants, or leggings underneath. She did not care that it was winter. She was not cold. She didn’t need a sweater or a coat either. She just needed a beautiful dress. That was all. It was frustrating to Annie that her parents kept arguing with her about this, since it was so simple.

There were many, many other things that Annie felt strongly about, and her emotions seemed stronger since she left her home in Connecticut. She felt happier when she was happy, but sadder when she was sad, and many things made her feel sad and upset. It was hard to know what to do with all the feelings. Sometimes Annie would be feeling happy, and then something terrible would happen (like Daddy saying something silly that wasn’t really silly, or Mommy getting mad at her, or Annie dropping something, or someone misunderstanding her) and she suddenly would feel unbearably sad.

Sometimes Mommy got mad at Annie when she cried. She said, “Annie! Use your words! I can’t help you if I don’t know what’s wrong!” But this was hard, because sometimes there are no words. There is just sadness.


Annie isn’t always sure why she gets so sad. But she knows the things that make her happy. On Monday morning, a few days after they arrived in New Zealand, she woke up happy. She went and snuggled with Mommy and Daddy and Cora for a little while, and then Mommy asked her if she wanted to FaceTime with her favorite teacher from her other school, Ms Jessie. Annie could hardly believe her ears. It was so exciting! Mommy pressed the FaceTime button, and then the phone was ringing, and then there was Ms Jessie! Right on the screen, looking at Annie! Annie was so happy when she saw her teacher’s face, she couldn’t stop laughing and wiggling, and had to hide her face under the covers. Ms Jessie was there! Talking to her! Even though it was Monday morning for Annie, it was Sunday afternoon for Ms Jessie. And even though it was cold and dark and dry for Annie, it was very hot and sunny in Ms Jessie’s house.

Annie usually didn’t have much to say when she talked to people over the phone or over FaceTime. But this was different. This was HER teacher, talking to Annie on the phone, not to Mommy and Daddy. Annie felt very special and important. She had so much to tell Ms Jessie. She started talking, and she talked so fast it was hard to keep up with her. She told her teacher all the important things. Ms Jessie told Annie that she missed her, and all Annie’s friends at school missed her too. Annie didn’t quite know how to put into words how much she missed Ms Jessie and her friends back home, but Ms Jessie could tell.

Annie was going to start school that morning, and at the end of her call with Ms Jessie she promised to call back at the end of her first day to tell all about it.

It was Book Week at school, so Annie picked out a book to bring to school called “Anna’s Secret Friend”, which was about a little girl like Annie who moved to a new house. Annie dressed up as Anna. She walked to school with Mommy, carrying her backpack and lunchbox.  She was scared because she didn’t know if the other kids would be nice or mean. She had been worrying about this for a long time, ever since she found out she was going to a new school.

There were a lot of kids in school. There were so many kids running everywhere, and just a few teachers. The teachers welcomed Annie to school.  Annie wanted her mommy to stay as close as possible. The other kids ignored Annie, but Annie found some dolls to play with. There were a lot of toys at school.

Then they had Mat Time, when everyone sat and listened to stories, and then Tea Time, where the kids sat at tables and ate snacks. Mommy stayed nearby. Mommy encouraged Annie to talk to the other kids, or play with them, but Annie didn’t want to. She ate her snack quietly and watched the other kids. Sometimes the new teachers talked to her, and she nodded or shook her head, because she didn’t want to talk. When there was more play time, she went to play with toys away from the other kids. When they played outside, she got very excited about the playground outside, but made sure to play away from the other kids. The playground equipment was really cool. There was a slide, and some swings, and lots of things to climb on, and a sandbox. Annie really loved it.

There were some exciting moments: a freight train went by at one point, and Annie and the other kids ran to the fence to watch it go by. Another time, the teacher went and fed the school chickens, and Annie got to watch. She felt a little scared of chickens, but she waved to them and said “Hi!”

Annie wanted to stay for a long time on her first day, because she loved the playground, but Mommy said they were just visiting and so they came home after an hour or two. They walked home, hand in hand, and sang Princess Pat together. Annie called Ms Jessie back and told her about all the toys, and about the playground outside and how wonderful it was. When asked about her teachers, Annie couldn’t really remember their names, and when asked about the other kids, she said “Oh, I didn’t want to play with them,” and then talked about the playground again.

That afternoon, when it was naptime, Mommy and Annie read a book and then snuggled in Annie’s bed together for a little while, Mommy holding Annie. Mommy told Annie this was only for a few minutes, but somehow, Mommy accidentally took a nap too, with Annie in her arms.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *