Lately, I have been thinking through some of the realities of raising our child in another cultural context where we will need to learn to speak another language and embrace a new way of doing things in order to fully acculturate. If you know our son at all, you know he is full of love for the people around him. Just this morning, he went up to a young mom, who he didn’t really know, sitting on the floor of our church and gave her a huge hug. The other night, he was all smiles for a waitress… and then later that same evening, he was spinning in circles with his arms outstretched and head tilted back in pure joy as he danced alongside a sweet 9 year old girl Grace – his new friend. He fits in here in West Michigan. He doesn’t have to work too hard to make friends in this cultural context.
Sam is easy to love. And I think it is because he loves others without judgment or hesitation. Before I drifted off to sleep last night, I began accepting the reality that this other culture, however beautiful in its own right, would shape the nuisances of Sam’s personality. Would this new place embrace his affectionate spirit? Would they welcome him dancing in the streets to the music he hears? It is interesting to interact with TCK’s (Third Culture Kids) and see sometimes two different personalities — their personality with the local people they are living around and then their personality/disposition around their immediate family and first culture.
As a mom, I have been grieving certain losses in stages… but one of those is grieving the loss of the family that lives nearby. Granted, each of Tony and I’s families in 2 1/2 hours in opposite directions from where we are – but still, they are a short drive away. The way they love our son and build into his identity and sense of belonging is irreplaceable. He soaks in their attention like a sponge. How will their (physical) absence affect Sam’s disposition? How can we make sure that they remain an integral part of his life ? As parents, Tony and I hope to creatively address these challenges to give our son the best of both worlds. We also cherish the relationships that Sam has with his three cousins and his little friends who live nearby. He and his friend Gwen have the sweetest phone conversations. Well, they are short and sweet with many silences… but still! It is becoming more and more fun to see him interact with other children his age. Just this past weekend, his cousin Machiah taught him how to play “Ring around the Rosie” and now he is hooked. He says “Kiah” for Machiah” and “Vi” for “Levi”and the way he plays with them is just precious. I just need to remember that the transition can happen one. step. at. a. time. And this next step will involve sorting through and packing our belongings into 10 20x20x20 boxes to go with us when we leave the country in a month.