Parenting on a Rollercoaster
We have been preparing our kids to live overseas since they were born. We have fostered Central American teens in our home, sent our kids to bilingual school and exposed them to other cultures through friendships and travel. We are now 5 weeks away from the big move and none of that preparation seems to matter. The skills and experiences they've garnered don't amount to a hill of beans right now. Our kids are kids. What matters to them is the sadness of leaving their friends and grandparents behind and the exhilaration of embarking on a new adventure.
We've been transitioning for 7 months so far. The highs and lows hit all of us at different times and at different intervals. For our oldest, who is 11, the lows feel like his friends have already moved on and he is untethered to a social group. That's a rough thing to feel when you're in middle school. For our 9 year old, it's the thought of leaving the friends she's always had and needing the bravery to forge new friendships. She is acutely aware of social dynamics and never wants to stand out or be the "new kid." Our shy girl, it has taken her 5 years in the same school to do Show & Tell without tears.
On top of preparing the practicalities of doctor visits, passports and luggage, we are acutely aware that our kids need us to be present and anchoring for them. Sometimes parenting on the rollercoaster means having a pajama day with family games, sometimes it's visiting favorite places that we'll miss when we're gone. It's planning playdates and sleepovers, praying together and voicing our fears. It's including them in decisions and letting them vent their frustrations. The rollercoaster won't last forever. Sooner than later we'll disembark and start our new life in Belize and all the newness with become comfortable. Until then, we are holding on for dear life and laughing between the tears.