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Being the new kid in town 

Whatever, Mom

If you ever moved as a child, you probably remember the anxiety of being the "new kid." Unless, of course, the move happened before age five or six, in which case your only recollections likely exist on account of whatever your parents told you—which could, in fact, be total baloney (no offense to your mother).

For all my four-year-old son knows—or will know—he grew up in Japan before moving to Bend.

I, on the other hand, wasn't so lucky. Out of the four times my family relocated before I bundled off for college, the pre-7th-grade move was the worst (and, naturally, the only one really seared into my memory). I mean, what's more awkward than hitting puberty while longing for social acceptance in a new town?

Maybe my son Cade will be okay after all.

But regardless of age, moving with a youngster can be pretty overwhelming—all the packing, hauling, flying, driving, settling and adjusting... I'd be happy to fast-forward through this first month. Then again, it's been nice not having our home Internet set up yet; this has to be the longest I've gone in the last six months without suffering through an episode of Caillou.

By the time we arrived in Bend, Cade was taxed. His impatience and negativity had gotten the best of him (and me), so I decided to find a place to relax and regroup. Lucky for us, there happened to be 8,000 beautiful parks to choose from. And walking in the Deschutes River was like cleansing in holy water.

I drove Cade around town (and around more traffic circles than I've ever seen in my life), pointing out all the things I possibly could to feed his enthusiasm. It wasn't too hard; this place is like a child's dreamland.

We talked about the lava caves and wildlife museums, the rock gardens and volcano tours, the art walks, the hiking and camping and skiing... Oh, and the Goody's Chocolate & Ice Cream Factory Tour (totally worth our 889-mile move).

But first things first: finding the perfect school.

Like any decent parent, I have panic attacks just thinking about leaving my child in someone else's hands. The first time I considered daycare for Cade, I turned down 43 prospective facilities. Don't get me wrong; I was all in favor of having a little breather from fulltime single parenthood. But sacrificing my daycare standards for some extra me time?

So I waited a year and tried again. I called a few preschools, had an emotional meltdown and went in for an "interview."

Cade started school a few weeks later. Desperation? Maybe a little. But as it turned out, this place really was perfect. On Cade's first day of school, I hugged him goodbye, waiting for the tears. He smiled and said, "See ya later, Mom." I cried.

A year and a half later, I'm back at square one again. But this time I have a little more experience, and through all the research, phone calls and school visits, something tells me this town has the perfect school for us, too.

Speaking of Bend schools... I'm all for mythological creatures (my school mascot was a unicorn), but what exactly is a lava bear?

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