Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Between Worlds

Our book club book for this past month was a collection of essays by Marilyn Gardner, an adult third culture kid, called Between Worlds. This book has brought tears to my eyes more times than I can count, and while I first read about it on an expat blog about a year ago, now is the time when I needed to read it, and I'm glad that God orchestrated that timing. As I've read, I've highlighted so many passages that I fear that as I try to look back over the most important advice that I need to reference, I will feel that I'm reading the entire book over again!

You might remember that Eric and I have already done a fair amount of reading and studying about third culture kids (TCKs), but when we began almost five years ago, we were thinking about it mostly in terms of our students or possibly what our kids would become. Now, we are deep into life with our TCKs and trying to figure out how to prepare them for life in a country that doesn't feel like home. Repatriation is a whole new ball game.

Among those many highlighted passages, one in particular stopped me in my tracks. I immediately had to put the book down, so that I could write out this quote from Nina Sachel. Because this is something I'm going to need to remember when Kennedy is having another one of her emotional days. When I can't possibly understand what she's thinking or feeling, I need to listen. Because she has stories to tell, stories that she's afraid to tell at school or to her peers for fear that she'll alienate them. For fear that they won't understand. For fear they'll think she's bragging when all she really wants to do is talk about her life.

              "So when she comes to you, don't ask her where she's from, or what's troubling her. Ask her where she's lived. Ask her what she's left behind. Open doors. And just listen. Give her the time, space, and permission she needs to remember and to mourn. She has a story -- many stories. And she needs and deserves to be heard, and to be healed, and to be whole."

I think the most interesting thing I've learned reading this book is how little I understand the perspective of my kids. Of course, we have all dealt with loss and struggled with identity, but reading a book written by an adult TCK who is raising TCKs has shown me just how big the gap is between our experiences. Eric and I will always feel--in some way--at home when in the States. It's the place where we can go where we understand expectations, language, and food. And our kids will never feel as comfortable there as we do. That's the part that I can't quite wrap my mind around.

The title of the book, Between Worlds refers to the place where TCKs feel most comfortable. They don't truly fit in in any country--not their passport country, nor the country which they've called home. They feel most comfortable in between--packing suitcases, hanging in airports, flying at 30,000 feet and within the four walls of whatever home we have created--the place where they can talk about where they've been or where they're going. Where people understand that they don't feel American or Korean, but they feel both at the same time.

I'll never truly understand the identity crisis that we've put our children through when we turned them into TCKs, but thankfully books like this one give me a little insight, so that when my daughter--who is absolutely dreading leaving the country that she considers home--gets excited 3 months early about packing, I can embrace it. Sure, kid, if you want to put all of your precious belongings in a suitcase just to see if they fit, you go for it. "Thanks, Mom! I love packing!" 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...