Last month was one of those milestones that goes by without thought or mention. It’s only after the fact that you realize it even happened. And even then, the only reason you realized that it’s come and gone is after a conversation about the house we just sold.
A few years ago we “celebrated” our Spanish Liam who had at that point lived abroad more than half of his life. Given that he was only a little over 2 1/2 when we moved, this was no major feat since it meant being abroad for just over 2 years and 8 months. At the time it felt huge though. One of our kids had lived abroad longer than he had lived in the US.
Well now it’s happened again. Only we’ve been away longer and that child was older when we left so it seems like a much bigger deal. We’ve passed the halfway point where Aidan has now lived abroad longer than he lived in the US. I don’t even think I would have thought much of this except he was talking about selling our house and that he had “grown up in this house”. After a moment of thought (and doing some quick math), I said to him “actually, at this point, you lived half of your life in this house and half in Europe”. Ironically this conversation took place almost to the week of that halfway point. Liam is actually at the point where it has been 2/3 of his life away now.
It’s a very strange feeling to know that our kids have essentially been growing up outside their home country. They are considered to be Third Culture Kids or TCKs. Their formative years have been in Europe. They (especially Aidan) associate themselves as European more than American at this point. But this is his “normal”.
There are pros and cons to this, like anything else. I like to think more pros to growing up as a world citizen than cons. They are open minded to new cultures, new environments, travel and kids that don’t speak perfect English. Skin color, religion and home countries are never taken in to consideration when befriending someone new. They are used to moving (they don’t like it any more than I do) and have become incredibly flexible with having to learn to just go with the flow and adapt. I know many adults (myself included) that still struggle with this!
On the con side, I (not him) miss that he’s growing up outside of his own culture. That he’s missing out on bits of Americana that I cherish and that he doesn’t understand my affinity and love for the good ole USA. I suppose that we can’t have it all – maybe someday when we live in the US again, he’ll get it.
For now, I will embrace the uniqueness that is having my children growing up in a country that is not my own and all the opportunities that come with it! And I look forward to our next milestone, whatever that might be!
Knuffels en kussen,