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.
|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.