We are in Australia again, somewhat unexpectedly. And I find myself parenting TCKs through transition once again. Except we don’t know how long this stint will last for, which means I can’t use my go-to strategy for making things concrete, that is, having a countdown.
There are the initial transitions, like finding a kindy. At first Elliot was very resistant, “I don’t want to go to Australian school.” He was worried it would be too different (because everything about life in Australia is different) and he wouldn’t know what to do. That’s settled down now, and he’s started kindy, and they’re being very accommodating.
But there are the bigger longings of his heart too.
Once again, “I want to go home — to Dodoma” has re-emerged. He knows someone else is living in ‘the yellow house’ there, and so he tries to bargain, “We can find another house in Dodoma.” I don’t know how much he actually remembers of Dodoma, so perhaps it’s more just an idea to him, but our not quite three years there are still the longest he’s spent in any one place, and he’s only four and half years old!
And a new one: “I miss Mashiba and Montazi and Xavier. They were my friends at Daniel Meehan.” That’s his first school in Dar. It breaks my heart, because even though he wanted to leave that school, and even though he loves his new school, he was not yet settled at the new school when we had to come to Australia. He did not yet have bosom pals like he did at his old school. And after the upheaval of this time in Australia is done, and we return to Dar, he will still have more settling in to do there.
These two wishes of his come from the two most stable periods in his life: our Dodoma period, and the six months we were in Dar, after the initial settling in period and before we moved schools and Auntie Stephie got sick and our current turmoil and move to Australia began.
One thing you hear about Third Culture Kids is that they have trouble identifying ‘home’, and that’s true for Elliot too. He’s not recalling a particular house or even location. He’s reaching for stability, wherever it is to be found. People say, ‘All kids need is for mum and dad to be there.’ There’s certainly some kind of stability there, but he’s also asking for all the moving parts of his life to be still for once.
Categories: Cross-cultural parenting Written by Tamie
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.
As a grown up TCK I love reading these posts. They enlighten things I’ve experienced in my own life but did not think about in the way you describe. Thanks Tamie.
I did wonder how he was handling this latest transition, especially without your usual countdowns. You guys seem to be doing a great job of seeking to reach his needs physically and emotionally, even amidst no doubt your own yearnings for stability. It will be fascinating to see how he reflects on being a TCK when he is older- while it may feel like a lot of hard work now, God willing he will reflect on this time as one where he felt loved, supported and heard.
Thanks for this. This will help us think through things for our kids as we prepare for home assignment in the future.