Crying Over Kindergarten

I loved this piece on the topic of raising third culture kids (children growing up in a country other than their passport country) by Richelle Wright. She writes, “What if some of what I consider so traumatic and so difficult and so worthy of tears I perceive that way primarily because I have preconceived ideas based on my own childhood and growing up of how things should be and how I would have reacted? ” She adds, “Maybe what I expect to be their struggles are just normal (for them)…perhaps those circumstances I believe they’ll breeze right through are the ones that will be the greatest challenges.” I totally related to these feelings, and appreciated these insights, especially remembering the experience of putting Naomi into preschool in Vienna…

So here we were, Day One. Me, in my third trimester of pregnancy, sitting in a wheeled office chair in the back of the room, trying to go unnoticed, but occassionally having to say “hi” to the curious preschooler who would come over to stare at or show something to the very pregnant stranger in the room. Naomi, exploring all of the wonderful toys and craft stations in the room and attempting to understand what was going on and make friends. Quite overwhelming! For her, and maybe moreso for me. Naomi would try to participate but get frustrated that she didn’t understand what the teacher was saying in German. After saying a few loud and insistent “NO’s!” in English, she would come running to me in tears saying that she wanted to go home, not understanding why she had to endure this torture.

I didn’t know what to say! I felt like all I could do was helplessly watch her struggle. I couldn’t change the circumstances for her. I had no power to somehow make her instantly learn German. I couldn’t make her 2 1/2-year-old mind understand that all of this was for her ultimate good, the ability to speak German and to make friends. I counseled her the only way I knew how. “Sweetie, I’m sorry it’s hard and you don’t understand. It will get easier. Watch the other kids and do what they are doing.” Of course, I meant what the obedient kids were doing…I was just hoping that would be the majority!

It was a heart-wrenching experience for me, as I unconsciously also super-imposed all of my insecurities and fears from years of life experience onto what I was seeing happen. MY life experience. The kicker was when I saw Naomi, after several failed attempts to communicate with the kids in English or play with someone, bravely walk up to a girl working a puzzle alone, and ask in English, “Hi, my name is Naomi, will you play with me?” In that moment, I was so proud of her and heartbroken all at the same time. Tears started streaming down my face. I couldn’t keep them in anymore.

Fast forward 6 weeks, and I’m riding the bus from home to the kindergarten to pick up Naomi after lunch. Expecting her standard answer of, “I cried”, to my question of how her morning was, she responded with, “I had fun!” Praise God! Fast forward 5 months, and I’m the one sad to say goodbye to Naomi’s class for a time as we prepare for our 8-month stay in the States. Missing the teachers that were such an encouragement to me as a mom during a rough transition for our family. Naomi thinks of and talks about her class from time to time, and I hope that she will be able to join in with the same class when we return. It may be like “coming home” for her, or it may be quite a re-entry struggle, but either way, trusting God every step of the way is our only hope. May He continue to give us wisdom as parents, helping our children navigate well the waters of living in a different culture, all the while striving to do so ourselves in a way that honors Him.

#blog #fa

by Liz Eck

Source: Ecksfiles City Plaza

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