...be ye stedfast, unmoveable,
always abounding in the work of the Lord,
forasmuch as ye know that your labour is
not in vain in the Lord.

11 October 2016

The Enigma of Educating our TCKs

I wrote this post almost exactly a year ago... 
Wanted to share it again, and then later this week, update a bit - as we are on year further into this journey.

It is an amazing one... this journey, I mean! Not necessarily this post! :-)

As a relatively large family (eight children spanning 13 years) that’s been on the mission field essentially since the turn of the century (15 years - long enough to be considered career), we’ve tried several different education options: homeschool, local language schools, private school, public school, online school… We’ve not yet used the boarding option at a boarding school (unless you count our university aged kiddos living in a dorm, but that’s still a whole different ballgame). And, in fact, when we first left for the field, I would have told anyone who asked that home school was the plan, but also that boarding school was the only option NOT on the table. 


I would tell you that any possible option that presents itself makes its way to the table as a topic of discussion…

People have asked us before about our education plan/philosophy, and I used to think I had it pretty well figured out – actually, mapped out – before our first reached third grade. A special educator with several years of experience in the classroom… a professional trained to look at the individual skills, abilities and needs of an individual student – and one who was fairly good at what I did… I figured those skills would naturally transfer to figuring out an exceptional and best educational plan for each one of my own children. Since I was the professional educator, my husband – although always an active contributor to the many conversations – essentially followed my lead regarding what was best, educationally, for our children, although there have been compromises. 

I’ve discovered that it HAS NOT come naturally – because my own desires and dreams for my children often interfere with… even disguise… what might actually be best for them… educationally, emotionally, physically, socially… spiritually. Those best choices that I could see easily for someone else’s child weren’t nearly so obvious when it came to my own.  Sometimes, best choices actually got in the way of good decisions. Sometimes, we make what appear to be best decisions – only to discover down the road aways that we didn’t have all of the facts or experience necessary to know, actually know, what we were deciding…

We’ve I’ve made so many mistakes. 

I’m thankful for God’s grace and merciful children. 

Key questions we’ve started asking when it comes to making those educational decisions:
  1. What is available?
  2. What is affordable?
  3. What is advantageous? (Or… What is the absolute best for this one child?)
  4. What is acceptable? (Or… What is a practical and adequate reality for our entire family?)
  5. What is the actual child’s input?

The first two questions are obvious. If there is no English language day school option in country and your children are too young to go to an out-of-country boarding school, then homeschool (parent teaching or engaging a teacher) or online are probably the two primary possibilities - if English language schooling is a priority. And, of course, whatever option must paid for - often putting the private, international schools out of reach for many missionary families.The third question is an ideal – If not limited by anything, what would I choose for my child. The fourth question is more one of workability: Which choices are both doable and good - not just the individual child, but for our family as a whole. This last one is always a hard one for me, because my perfectionist side has a hard time settling for the good if there is a best alternative. Doing so is, in my mind, equivalent to failure. The final question has much to do with what the child wants – or thinks s/he needs.

These questions are not listed in a hard and fast order of priority – because priorities can change based on present realities. They also change based on the individual needs of each specific child.

Sometimes, it feels like we’re trapped in a high stakes poker game where we’re dealt a hand of cards, we try to read the nuances of the situation all around us and then make decisions that are educationally sound and profitable for our children. Sometimes we make the very best decision we can – only to watch as our child struggles, hurts, or worse… learning as more information comes to light that perhaps we didn’t actually make a very good choice – or that we need to make a change. 

There are so many “stories” I could tell – but there are two I think are particularly relevant.

While in W. Africa, we choose to enroll our children in a local, French language primary school. It felt like we got to have our cake and eat it too… to use a cliché! We met so many people outside the missionary community (the school was run by Baha’i missionaries). Our children were learning French and making local friends - outside of  church. The teachers and staff at the school worked very hard to meet the educational needs of our children and our children learned that the standard “American” perspective wasn’t necessarily the only way. It certainly was not the way the rest of the world saw things. 

They children grew from experiencing life as a visible minority where they didn’t have all of the prerequisite skills that typically give majority culture students an advantage. They learned independence, hard work, how to memorize, obedience without question and how to make friends with people who were drastically different from them. We were all home for lunch together every day – and for a rest time during the afternoon heat - before the children returned to school. Academically, we found that even though the educational system and priorities were different, our children were well taught and well prepared to eventually transition to an international, English language school as bilingual students. The only disadvantage was that our children were spread across three different school campuses in town.

Life was cruising along; we were following this educational plan for our family. Then our mission unexpectedly became insolvent. Resulting financial difficulties as well security challenges due to increasing terrorist activity in our region led us to make a radical change - several weeks after the beginning of a new school year. We moved our children into an English language, international mission school. 

I had to let go of my dream of genuinely bilingual children and being a part of that school community we had enjoyed for several years. I also had to accept that this was a decision that had nothing to do with an educational best choice, but a real life, real time choice of what was best for our family. Additionally, I was surprised to discover just how difficult this change was for our children who had to make the switch – suddenly, unexpectedly and mid-year. They immediately had to learn 1) a new school, 2) new classroom/teacher systems, 3) a new academic language, 4) to live day in and day out with those who had, before, only been weekend friends, 5) to walk through perceived injustices/prejudices as a result of the previous educational choices we’d made for our family, and 6) to be just like all of the other TCKs who filled their classes. Others of our children who'd already transitioned to the international school had made that transition. But, we’d taken a year of homeschooling to help each adjust to the radical differences.

What's the moral of the story? When you realize that a current educational situation is really not working, either because of a change, new information, or whatever – make the necessary changes. I shed many tears, crying for my lost vision of the future, but also with my kids as they dealt with their own losses and frustrations. I had to create time to be available and drop other obligations and commitments in my already full ministry schedule to emotionally and academically support them through the change. It was hard.

My second story is one that is taking place, literally, right now. We’ve transitioned to a new place of ministry. Those among our children who are not attending college back in the States are presently enrolled in a French language, private, evangelical school. It’s a great school. But it is already clear that it is not the best educational decision for at least one of our children, one for whom learning does not come easily, one who is an extreme extrovert - not being able to talk with friends is driving said child crazy. This child was already identified as having an articulation disorder, has an individualized education plan and was receiving speech and language services in English. For this one, languages do not come easily. Yet, because of immigration/visa requirements – our children must be actively engaged in French language education. 

Are there other avenues we could choose? Probably, but we aren’t familiar enough yet to know what those options might be. So we spend hours on homework every night. We memorize verb conjugations even though the children may not have any idea what said verb means and will not likely be using the conditional form of the verb any time in the near future. We reread and translate much of the work that was done during the day. It's like a second school day once home when what they really want is a break because they are exhausted. I easily perceive that exhaustion as “laziness.” A good friend recently reminded me of something I should know very well - as a language learner myself and as a teacher of English as a second language… Language learning is draining; learning content material in the new language is beyond grueling. Sometimes what looks like lazy is simple self-preservation from information overload. Once again, for this season – different ministry ideas I might have need to take a back seat to supporting my children as we walk through this season together and learn to thank God for His Presence when life (school) is unrelentingly hard.

The moral of this second story? Sometimes the cards we are dealt just don’t leave a particular child with any good hand, educationally. That isn’t necessarily a failure. It is a reality of life in a fallen, broken world. What may not turn out to be an academically profitable year might actually reap more real life skills and an opportunity to lean on the Lord in ways we just don’t when we don’t desperately need Him. But as parents, we can't leave our kids to just fend for themselves in the challenging seasons our life choices, our callings, have thrust upon them.

Do I believe God called me to this place, at this time, with this family? I absolutely do. He also gave me this family and called me to a responsibility to serve them. More important than making perfect educational decisions for each child each school year is a lifestyle lived, walking humbly with our God through those decisions (and others). It is climbing educational mountaintops together and holding close through the academic valleys, all the while ultimately recognizing His Sovereignty and His amazing grace in all circumstances. TCKs don't need to be coddled and protected from life's realities and hardships because their parents are following a lifestyle that denies them of much of what is valued and expected of parents in today's western/developed world. Life isn't all about our kids. But they are also not to be ignored or expected to fend for themselves. They need to be discipled in looking to God for strength and hope in the midst of our decisions.

Originally posted on Missionary Mom's Companion

03 October 2016

Five Minute Friday (on a Sunday Afternoon Turned into Evening) ~ Collect

Fall has arrived and the weather is changing! As a result, we took advantage of a somewhat lower key weekend (where lower key really is a relative term meaning  only had one short work shift, Saturday morning house cleaning, two Sunday School lessons to prepare and teach, sound system set-up and breakdown at church, one small group meeting with food to prepare, our first feverishly-sick-so-staying-stationary-one of the new school year AND five sets of homework) to switch seasonal clothing. Mary Michelle had been coming home from school all week saying her teachers wanted her to start wearing a real coat. It was time!

Now, the storage space under the stairs seems almost echoingly empty...

For years, it seems as though I've collected clothes, shoes, coats, gloves, mittens, etc. Biggers growing out of stuff and if it wasn't immediately passed down to the closet of a younger sib, I'd pack it away in a Rubbermaid tub for littlers to use some future day. Often hand-me-downs arrived on the doorstep from cousins, friends in our church and expat community.... or I'd run across a great deal at Goodwill or Walmart... or Gammie would go on a grandkid clothes splurge.

But now that some of these kids are transitioning to life out from under our roof and littlers (really, only one littler remains) are transitioning to middlers while middlers morphing into to biggers, scatter is becoming my new word. It seems I've spent a life - to anglicize a French verb - ramasse-ing things that I knew would be valuable in days to come. Now, I've entered that season where my collection of tangibles is rightly shrinking - as we pass along, sharing with others those things that we have received. 

Yet, should nostalgia, sadness, regret and loneliness over a much quieter house than it used to begin to predominate ~ all I have to do is remember is that now, I can focus on all those intangibles I've been - and will continue - collecting: memories, relationships... treasures that rust and moth doth not corrupt.

...which reminds me of an Emily Brontë poem ~

Fall, leaves, fall 

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away; 
Lengthen night and shorten day; 
Every leaf speaks bliss to me 
Fluttering from the autumn tree. 
I shall smile when wreaths of snow 
Blossom where the rose should grow; 
I shall sing when night’s decay 
Ushers in a drearier day.

So... funny but true. I really did write this in right around 5 minutes. I started, wrote the first bit and was interrupted by life in our house. Then came back after watching the season premiere of my fave TV show (Madam Secretary, if you are wondering), finished and forgot to post - until I sat down at the computer today. Then, I decided to add the photos, because who doesn't love pictures of Fall in Québec!

21 July 2016

"AHSH-AY-AIR BLO-KUH!" or "Yeah, I guess you could say context counts!"

It had been a crazy, insanely busy day -

I knew from the get-go that I'd be running, literally, from before sun-up until after sundown. 

Just in case you are wondering, officially there were 13 hours and just shy of five minutes of daylight on that particular day. I checked when I started the draft for this post...

So, at just shy of 4:00 pm, walking through the door of the house after picking up the kids from school so that I could get our kitty and have her to the vet's office 20 minutes later for a very important appointment (after which, hopefully we will all be sleeping better), I was most definitely a little distracted. 

And... the phone rang.

"Oui, Allô..." I said, slightly breathless after hopping over, around and through a rather large conglomeration of snow boots, backpacks, gym bags, lunch boxes, coats and other assorted items that six school kids tend to rapidly drop just inside the door when first arriving home.

"Bonjour! C'est AHSH-AY-AIR BLO-KUH..." and THAT was all I heard before the typical panic that strikes every time someone starts speaking French to me over the phone began to set in.


You'd think I'd be over this by now. 

I've been receiving phone calls in French for 16 years. 

It shouldn't still be causing such a brain freeze. 

But I really hate sounding like an incompetent fool...

Fortunately, I caught three words out of the next several that the speaker said: Monsieur, Wright and impôts (or taxes)... and those three words were all it took to give me a desperately needed context to aid comprehension. 

In fact, at that moment, literally EVERYTHING the caller had said suddenly made sense.

H&R Block (a name I've heard for years) was calling to speak to my husband about our taxes. It was, after all, April. Deadlines were looming. The office only had our house number and not Tim's cell - and needed to speak to him. I recited the needed number, we politely wished each other a nice day and I was back off and running to get our kitty to the vet.

When I walked through the door, before the phone rang:

  1. my mind was fixed on the next thing I had to do, 
  2. we'd been listening to an audio drama in the car (about Dietrich Bonhoeffer - what a story!)
  3. the kids were yattering about their days and worrying loudly about how the cat would do at the vet, 
  4. it was 4 in the afternoon (i.e. preferred sieste time), yet 
  5. I had more than half of a very full day looming, and
  6. the land line rarely rings at the house ~ unless it is hubby calling and, not surprisingly, we tend to speak to each other in English. 
And, even though H&R Block is a well known business name to me - it is something I've heard of literally all of my life - the name sounded totally foreign when pronounced with French phonetics.

Which brings me back to what seems to be a bit of a resounding theme lately ~

It is difficult to make good decisions or knowledgeable judgments if I don't have sufficient context to have any real comprehension. 

It is impossible to participate in profitable discourse concerning the pertinent and difficult questions that trouble our present times.

Yet instead of slowing down, 

rather than gathering more information and 

discerning a context...

there's this strong temptation to plunge ahead, regardless of collateral damage. 

Arrogant, egocentric, lazy and impetuous, I quickly assume that my perception from my point of view is, if not exactly identical to that of God, it is most certainly the next best thing.

Yet, without context... without understanding... 

without any recognition of how my present perspective prejudices... 

or possibly even perverts... 

How can I arrive at an equitable and more complete understanding of the reality in question?

This attitude, so prevalent - today, and, apparently, in Jesus' time - closes conversations rather than encouraging dialogue, learning and change for the better.

And in John, Jesus is pretty clear that I have no business judging, without first having enough knowledge to do so correctly.

19 July 2016

that "action of bringing two parties face to face"

So... that doesn't sound so bad, does it?

I mean, there are lots of times I really like being face to face - with my hubby, for one.

Or sitting across the table from a good friend, sipping tea or coffee and having to lean forward... in close... to actually hear what my friend is saying because the concrete walls echo, magnifying the background noises of all the other conversations taking place in the restaurant.

Or my littlest munchkin smashing her nose and forehead against my cheek, her preferred mode of snuggling as she falls asleep. It IS sometimes suffocating, but always sweet. It's also really hard to snap a picture of that, but trust me... it happens at some point, every single day... still. She's not always falling asleep, but at 7.5 years, she still needs a snuggle cuddle every day.

How, then, could it be? 

That a word defined as the "action of bringing two parties face to face" strikes dread in the hearts of so many. 

That it is something most of us (siblings don't count) avoid it at all costs. 


we simply strive to avoid those people who don't choose to...

...avoid [this word], I mean.

Have you figured out what "it" I'm talking about yet?



Conflict, altercation, disagreement, and argument are all common synonyms.

Or, more idiomatically,

"going nose to nose"
"butting heads!"

The etymology of the word confrontation, 

     which originates in the Latin and probably made its way into English via French, 

           looks something like this:

Essentially, it means the act of (according to dictionary.com)
  1. standing or coming in front of; 
  2. standing or meeting, facing; 
  3. presenting for acknowledgment, contradiction, etc.; 
  4. setting face to face; 
  5. bringing together for examination or comparison; 
  6. facing in hostility or defiance, opposing; and/or 
  7. being in one's way. 
Some of those have clear negative connotations... but they don't all have to, especially if we'd take the time to learn how to "do" well this thing we are calling confrontation: first how to receive criticism/confrontation... and then why, when and how to actually confront another.

Biblical confrontation was a topic I studied in depth with the women in our church in Niger. The pastor's wife asked me to lead a study on this topic because the younger women were intimidated by the older women, particularly when the older women let the younger gals know they hadn't met "some" expectation set by the older ones.

Here's what we looked at ~
Check out these links above if you want to see how our conversations/studies went. Personally, I felt I learned a lot more than I taught, and in those posts, tried to include the very interesting and insightful implications, as well as the conclusions drawn and applications suggested - all by the ladies in that church. One thing I think is important to remember - most of these women were, at that point in time, illiterate. Thus, it was quite likely their first exposure to some of the different Bible passages, in any way, shape or form.

I love the example of Nathan (as confronter) and David (as confrontee), in 2 Samuel 12. Nathan confronted gently and well, as well as for the right reasons. David received that confrontation humbly and brokenly. But then...

But then, we read 2 Samuel 13, a horrifyingly difficult account in the Biblical record. 

In chapter 13, we also read a story of several additional confrontations... or ones that should have taken place... 

Sadly, none of which were handled correctly by both participants, if they were handled at all.

As was my typical strategy when leading a Bible study, we read/reviewed the story. Then I asked them to identify any confrontations that did occur... and then to think about and identify where confrontations might have/should have occurred. The goals was to consider and then discuss:
  1. what went well (if anything), and particularly,
  2. what didn't go well 
between the confronter and the confrontee in each situation.

Here's what the ladies notices as we worked our way through the first half of the chapter.

A confrontation between Jonadab and Amnon

The two were cousins and apparently close friends. This confrontation actually started off okay. Jonadab showed himself to be an attentive and observant friend. He clued in to Amnon's distress and went to him, confronting him, saying "It's obvious something isn't right. Tell me what's going on." 

Amnon's initial response was also good. He very transparently answered his cousin and told him the whole truth of what was bothering him: Amnon desired his half sister. 

This was the point where I, from my perspective and with my cultural baggage, felt this encounter went wrong. Instead of encouraging Amnon to seek counsel, or instead of giving good advice himself, Jonadab recommends deceit and a selfish pursuit of what Amnon thinks will make him happy. Jonadab suggests an immediate and temporary alleviation of Amnon's discontent, rather than digging deeper to find out why Amnon was feeling as he was, instead of seeking lasting answers and a changed heart. Jonadab also recommended what could appear to be a deceitful ruse.

Thankfully, I held my tongue and allowed the ladies to speak first, because in the Nigerien culture direct confrontation rarely happens.

Instead, the women quickly pointed out a difficulty in judging with knowledge - completely and accurately determining Jonadab's motivations behind his counsel.

Here's what the ladies thought:

Jonadab's counsel provoked a visit from King David, Amnon's father. David clearly had the authority to confront Amnon - from a position of wisdom and personal experience (Temember the previous few chapters?). Whereas Jonadab could only address Ammnon's issues as a peer, David could speak as a father. Culturally, Jonadab could not directly confront his friend, but he could suggest a scenario where one, David, who legitimately and authoritatively engage would be made aware of the issue.

Out of curiosity, when I got home I looked up the meaning of the key word used to describe Jonadab: "shrewd" or "crafty." Hearing those words, I can quickly conclude deceitful.

However, the original Hebrew word meant wise and was often used in conjunction with prophets and those who had good discernment. It was also frequently used to describe sorcerers and false prophets.

My next step was to see what else, if anything else, the Bible says about Jonadab. He is mentioned in one other place - he accurately informs David of Absalom's revenge upon Amnon.

Thus, at least at a cursory glance, it appears that there are three plausible interpretations of Jonadab's actions: 1) he immaturely counseled his friend to use deception to get what he wanted; 2) he wisely set up a scenario where a more qualified person could potentially confront Amnon regarding his foolish desires; or 3) he was no true friend to Amnon, engaging in, for whatever reason, a sophisticated subterfuge, using royal court liaisons to remove a potential successor to David's throne.

Thus, what did we learn through this example of "two parties coming together, face to face?"

Confrontation can be done in many different ways, and probably should be, depending on the circumstances and need. 

We had already seen the example of an indirect confrontation by two who might be considered equals - King David and Nathan.

That day, we had looked at another confrontation - perhaps between equals (two friends) or perhaps between two unequals - the king's son/potential successor to the throne and the king's nephew. That day, the ladies tended to see Jonadab's actions as wise - indirectly confronting by bringing Amnon into a position where his father would better be able to confront his inappropriate, sinful desires.

What do you think?

Does one of these interpretations seems most plausible to you? Which one?

What is your reaction to women from a different culture understanding a Biblical passage differently than what you may have traditionally been taught, simply because they come from a different cultural context?

Trying to give credit where credit is due:
from whence came that title 
here's where I found that picture of the rams-butting-heads-statue
originally posted here on July 19, 2012

03 June 2016

One Proud Mama... of her TCKs

Fridays, I usually link up with Five Minute Friday... you know that "blogging thing" where a topic prompt is posted and participants write for 5 minutes, unedited, on whatever thoughts trickle... or flash floods... out, based on that prompt, and then link back to the original post.

I'm not participating today, because I want to take a minute to brag on my gang... and give a quick update as to what's up with them. Frankly, these musings are motivated by last night's "Gala de Reconnaissance" - or end of the year awards assembly at the kids' school. 

You see, I was really hoping we wouldn't have to go. 

I've done the awards assembly thing many, many times... Let's see... Brendan will be 21 in November and he started school when he was 4. That means I've been at awards assemblies for my Wrightling crew for 16 years - even more if I count  AWANA and also throw in the ones I attended to just be there for siblings, nieces, nephews... 

I get frustrated by the "everyone must receive an award so that everyone feels valued and appreciated" mentality yet at the same time, there are those 3 or 4 really exceptional students who end up dominating with 8 or 9 genuine and accomplished awards compared to the normal student's one or two participation certificates. I'll be the first to admit that my perspective is probably skewed - so I'm not pronouncing a judgement as to right or wrong; simply understand that I JUST DON'T LIKE awards assemblies. Because of this, I was super delighted to receive an email from the school that said we could swing by the office and find out if any children in our family were receiving awards; in other words, we wouldn't have to go and sit for three plus hours if no one was actually going to parade across the stage and shake the principle's hand and receive an award. Since we had visitors arriving from the States that day, I figured we had a pretty decent excuse to skip IF there was no real reason to be there. Please note the IF in all caps... even though I detest these assemblies, I am a pleaser and wanna-be obedient rule follower who always tries to do what I think others expect, even when I don't want to. So, in my mind, I needed a more legit reason to not be there other than a whiny "But I don't wanna..."

Much to my surprise (and, if I'm honest, disappointment), I was told that 4 of our 6 WOULD be receiving awards.

We WOULD be going. And our visitors, such good sports, WOULD be joining us. For the whole kit and caboodle. I baked a layered cake and had ice cream ready to serve at home afterwards, hoping to soften the blow.

It was an awards assembly.

It was the best awards assembly I've ever been to. Those in charge kept things moving. People weren't afraid to laugh at themselves. Improv seemed to be encouraged and kept everyone laughing. Kindergarten grad was included - and was completed in about 15 minutes. The orchestra's "musical selections" were frequent, used to help with transitions and short (read 30 seconds - 1 minute). Only the top students received awards. All of the participation and other recognitions had already been presented at school during the day, in a pre-gala celebration that was much like a class party.

It was still a three hour marathon with a 15 minute intermission, but it was okay.

I was glad I went.

Now, back to the bragging on my gang ~ Four received an award, and I was a proud mama. Especially when you see the comments that went with each award.

The student who has demonstrated determination and remarkable perseverance in accomplishing her goals. She has demonstrated, in the whole of her work, a desire to learn and the will to apply that knowledge, aestheticism, attention to detail, cleanliness and a high quality of work as well as respect for her peers and for different artistic materials.

for her perseverance in the face of academic challenge and her desire to learn.

for her love for the Lord and her desire to serve Him.

for having met the academic requirements of two school years (Secondary 4 and 5), in French (her second language) with exceptional diligence devoted to her studies.

You could say I'm proud of these Wrightlings.

And just because Jon and Anna didn't receive a certificate, I've watched them work and progress and take risks and succeed - all year long.

Anna in Haiti

Anna working with a team and painting a school in Haiti

M&M and Elsie Mae at a park on the Wendake reservation in Quebec

Tori, playing the monkey at a park in Quebec

Bren, with college friends

More of the same

Tori with soccer buds

Rebekah and friends

Nadia and classmates on wear-your-pjs-to-school day... a really cool tradition here in Quebec

Rebekah, hard at work (??) at her school coffee shop/student center this past year

M&M's class participating in an all school painting project... and dressed in garbage bags

our soon to be graduated one

Little munchkins... just two summers ago.. Elsie's rocking some TCK style... sundress and snowboots

Jon enjoying the a Quebec fall

One of the "describers" or characteristics used when talking about TCKs is that they experience loss, lots of it, and as a result of choices not their own. And it is true. My Nadia walked out of school yesterday afternoon in tears. I asked her what she was feeling and she said something like this: "In Niger, it took me 3 or 4 years after switching to Sahel (the international school, with other TCKs) to feel like I belonged. And we left. Then in Michigan, I was feeling a part of things after two years. And we moved here. This year, I've made some great friends and feel a part of this class. But we're all graduating and going different directions. They are great friends and I'm going to miss them. These goodbyes are hard." I cried with her. I think Anna and Tori were a little teary eyed, too. The littles just begged to continue with the next "Adventures in Odyssey" episode. Believe me, I know all too well that this is a hard as in ripping-your-heart-apart-hard part of their lives as I try to listen and love my gang through these sometimes moments, sometimes seasons.

I find it sad that this seems to be the most discussed, almost to the point of ad nauseum, aspect of their lives. Because it is only a part of the TCK experience, and may not even be the defining one - certainly not for all. 

But back to that conversation with Nadia. 

After a few minutes of tears, I asked her who she was talking to as they were walking out of school. She named her friend and she said they were talking and crying and commiserating together. Her friend is not a TCK - but they were both sharing the pain of impending loss together. And I really don't know if my girl has said more goodbyes... had more grief and loss in her life than her friend. I did follow up with another question. I asked Nadia why she was able to make deeper friendships faster with each place. Her response was insightful: "Because I've matured and I've gotten better at figuring out what I have in common with people. It is easier to make friends when I find something that can be a bridge."

I guess as a mama to my TCKs, I know there will be grief and loss. I guess I don't think we have the corner on that market, however. We try and deal with all the grief, the loss and those never ending transitions when needed and for as long as needed. But we don't want to let that define our family. 

It was eye-opening for me to see, at this awards assembly, what bridges others perceive my children to be building. They weren't necessarily the ones I would have expected... or even felt to be their natural areas of talent and inclination. 

I also know that my crew agrees with a sentiment currently circling among several of their TCK friends... who are spread across at least 6 continents: "How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard." (AA Milne as Winnie the Pooh). That's their words, not mine (although I guess they could just be parroting words to keep up some image that they feel they have to project ~ I don't think so). That "something" is those past friendships with such a wide variety of people  and is what allows them to build bridges, resulting in new relationships that may blossom into new friendships.


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