My kids are weird. A little on the strange side.
(Okay, these aren't really my kids. Mine have better hair. I just like the picture.)
Almost 20 years ago, I packed little pieces of our lives into 22 assorted pieces of luggage and footlockers. I wondered how moving overseas would impact my kids. Would they grow up and write a tell-it-all exposé about their heartless parents that forced them to grow up in a new culture??? Would I be the villain in the book???
Well, my kids are all grown-up now. Our son has added a wonderful daughter-in-love and two precious grandchildren to our family. Our daughter will be marrying in a month, and adding a son-in-love to the family. I have to say, my kids are almost normal.
There are a few eccentricities that pop up from time to time. My kids may not recognize the musical hits that most of their American peers know, but they can sing along with every Jim Croce, John Denver, Wayne Watson and Sandi Patti song you play. (iTunes didn’t exist, and updating our tunes wasn’t easy.)
They also don’t recognize jokes about popular TV shows. We relied on my Mom to send VHS tapes of American shows and her tastes ran to Dr. Quinn and Little House on the Prairie. Fortunately, the guy upstairs had a complete set of Star Trek Voyager tapes, so we were able to expand their horizons and “to boldly go where no man has gone before.”
Sometimes this gap in their knowledge of American culture may be a little embarrassing. They’ve learned to cover well, most of the time. Fortunately, they learned more important lessons during their years overseas.
My kids learned to love and appreciate other cultures. For them, comfort food is as likely to be a bowl of borscht, as an American hamburger. They learned that there are more important things than having brand name sneakers and jeans. My kids saw poverty and suffering and learned to discern the difference between want and need.
Most importantly, they learned that love could cross all cultures and barriers. Relationships are more important than time or money. They saw God’s miracles on a daily basis as He transformed lives, provided protection, and lavished love upon our family.
Recently, I ran across a poem that was written by a TCK (third culture kid). This poem expresses the heart of a TCK.
I grew up in Yellow Country.
But my parents are Blue.
Or at least, that is what they told me.
But I played with the Yellows.
I went to school with the Yellows.
I spoke the Yellow language.
I even dressed and appeared to be Yellow.
Then I moved to the Blue Land.
Now I go to school with the Blues.
I speak the Blue language.
I even dress and look Blue.
But deep down inside me,
I love the Blue Country,
but my ways are tinted with Yellow.
When I am in Blue Land,
I want to be Yellow.
When I’m in Yellow Land,
I want to be Blue.
Why can’t I find a place,
where I can be both?
A place where I can be me.
A place where I can be Green.
I just want to be Green.
~By Whitni Thomas, TCK (1991)
I’ve known a lot of TCKs through the years, many who call me “Aunt.” My prayer for each of them is that God will help them blend the Blue and Yellow in their lives into a beautiful Green.
For parents of TKCs, yes, your children may be different than the average American kid. Living overseas will immeasurably enrich their lives. I pray for wisdom as you help your TCK follow God’s plan for his or her life of being Green.
And for my kids: Ya’ll are as Green as they come! I love you for it.
And please, if you promise not to write an exposé of my faults as a parent, I promise not to tell all your secrets.
Only the funny ones!