Back to Normal, for Now

Gina Butz third culture kids, transition 4 Comments

photo by Gina Butz

The other day, our daughter said, “If we could bring Scout out here, I would want to stay here forever.

So it seems she is enjoying the summer. And why wouldn’t she be? Two of her oldest and dearest friends are here with her, along with a couple dozen other TCKs (Third Culture Kids), for six weeks. Weekday mornings we have meetings, during which the kids are together doing fun activities. The rest of the time we all live together in college student housing all centered around a common courtyard. We’re back to the days of, “I don’t know where the kids are, but I know they’re having fun. They’ll probably come home when they’re hungry.” In other words, it’s their paradise.

It’s also their normal. Our kids came into the world when we lived in a building with 29 other people we worked with, as well as nine kids under the age of 5, most of us within 5 stories of one another. We bought a security door with our American neighbors and placed it 10 feet down the hallway (instead of each of us having our own outside our doors) so that we could leave our own doors open for the families to go back and forth at any time.

When we moved to Singapore, we again had numerous families we knew all centered around a common courtyard, this time with a pool. Every day at 2 pm, that’s where we were. Our last two years in Asia, most of the people from our office lived within a 2 mile radius of one another. Between us there were 60 school age kids, and most of them were homeschooled. There wasn’t a day that went by without friends.

Then we came to the States, and our kids didn’t know what to make of it. Ethan’s managed to find some friends a couple blocks away, and they are over as much as possible, but we’re still praying for Megan to have at least one good friend in the neighborhood. They are realizing that what they grew up with just wasn’t the norm.

Throughout our transition, this has been one of the places of deepest grief for our kids. As much as they want life to be the way they knew growing up, they simply cannot make it that way. They are still trying to figure out how to do without.

And then we come here, and life IS that way, and we’re all kinds of happy and thankful and relieved (it’s hard to think of things to do without friends!).

So what is my conclusion? I confess I’m tempted to look ahead and gather my emotional energy for the fallout of losing this environment once again. I’m trying instead to simply be grateful for the gift of having this amazing community.

photo by Gina Butz

The same four girls, four years later. It’s good to be reunited!

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Comments 4

  1. Excellent! Loved reading this! I hear your heart and your voice. I, too, wish this were the norm for your kids and all kids. It’s definitely the way I grew up.

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  2. As we seek God’s leading for a job transition next year, this is heavy on my heart. While our experience is not as communal as yours in Asia, we have been blessed to live in a dense, urban environment. We love public transportation and truly walkable cities. My 12 and 14-year-olds are out playing basketball since 3:00 with their high school friends, expected to be home by 8pm for dinner. I’ve realized the American suburb is one of the most dreaded parts of some of our future options. (Schools with thousands of kids, being a soccer mom and spending a lot of time in a car are close seconds!) I am reading your blog because of your recent post about trusting God in transition, and I find this post contrasts considerably. I still want to ask you if you regret moving to the States!

    1. Kara,

      The transition has definitely been a journey! This post was written only one year in, and after our first time being back with old friends, so we were feeling the pain acutely.

      We’ve had to adjust our expectations a lot for what life in America looks like, but I would never say I regret leaving. For one thing, the community we had is gone. Completely! None of their friends live in our old location anymore. It was a gift for that time, but He is giving us so many new gifts now. It’s taken time, but it has been a blessing to see how He provides. I’m actually writing a book about transition right now-hoping to have it published in the next year. If you subscribe (or at least check back from time to time) you’ll be able to hear about it. Thanks for reading!

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