Tuesday is the most stressful day of the week. I have only one period free out of a 7-period. It is a long time to be with kids and to be “on.” Today, I feel frightened of it, like maybe I won’t be able to cope with the non-stop nature of it. I don’t know. Maybe I always feel afraid of it, and today I am just more in touch with my feelings. I am still reeling from Sunday and meeting C, still trying to make sense of the things it seemed I learned about her and about our relationship.

I have mentioned all of those things, I think, but I am working through what they mean to me still.

I do not always feel I know what it is like for her, to have someone appear in her life fairly suddenly and love her so much. I know she feels a lot of things, but I am not always sure what. Sunday, she must have gotten the full range of those emotions in the space of the 30 minutes I spent with her. I had not come to the hostel before. The other times I met her were in public places, not in her own space, and that must have felt very different. I did meet her at school twice before, briefly. First, to speak to the admission committee and second when they were having a song and dance show. The girls who did not really know her may not have really noticed her or known the reason I was there. The day students knew and they saw me and they saw I came to see her, but the boarders may not have noticed especially. They were in their own worlds at that point: the first time because they had also just arrived and were getting settled and the second time because I was in the back of the room and they were sitting in the front and absorbed in the show.

So coming to the hostel, because it was this more intimate space, made much more of an announcement of our relationship to her peers. It seems to me she consistently referred to me as “mom.” She scolded the other girls for making a mess. “Sweep the floor, my mom is here.” She told the girl with the question to sit on the other side of me. “My mom says come.”

She is claiming me, because as scared as she is to come close to me she is proud to have me. She wants me to be hers in the same way I want her to be mine. I think. I think that is what she is expressing.

The girls were asking if she was coming to the United States. I said I am not going, so she cannot come. This was a student I know, but she has probably been dying to ask me. C said after 2 years, she will come. Well, maybe she just needs to say something to her friends. But I think she is telling me that she wants to be with me. Wherever I want to go, she wants to be with me. It is possible.

I worry a lot about taking her away from her other attachments, from her parents, her friends, her grandparents, her siblings. I am aware that in being here with me, she is sacrificing closeness with her parents and siblings—although her grandparents are close by. I worry keeping her with me will not be possible. I worry she will suffer terribly in being away from her culture and her country. I worry immigration is not a good option.

And I have never told her with any certainty the future will hold for her, because I do not know, other than that she needs to stay in school and I will pay for it if it comes to that. I did say it is better for her to be here for 2 years and then we will reassess the situation. Actually, I will need to assess after this year, because whatever I do with her will probably take a year to plan.

There are things about her culture that are not entirely clear to me, like about how children grow up and what being an adolescent is like. She has told me, “You are my mom, like real mom, and I cannot hurt you. It is your option where to keep me.” And I think she meant that. Obedience is her love for me.

I think the kind of sacrifice of one’s own feelings as a parent so that the child will have a good future is beyond her to comprehend. If I love her, I will want her with me, and I will want her to take care of me, and I never want her to take care of me, so maybe I don’t really love her.

I don’t know. But there is something I need to understand better.

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