The Countdown to Good-bye

 

20180720_213804If you followed the World Cup at all this year, you would recognize the mini posters hung on our wall. I just took this photo a few days ago. I haven’t taken those posters or flags down. Not even after Germany exited the tournament – enough said about that depressing night. 

Why are they still up?

I realized that this… THIS World Cup is the last one my son will be home for. The last one that we will be a family watching the games together. Okay, there is a chance we will all be together sometime in the future. It happened for my husband’s family in 2010 when all his siblings and kids were in Germany with us. But, that doesn’t happen often. I think I have kept them up because I know that when all the decorations comes down the countdown will begin. Usually this countdown starts their last year of high school, but for me it is starting the year before his last.

Why now?

He leaves in ten days for the dormitory. We will drive him the 6 hours it takes us to cross the island to settle him in his new room. This is not easy and something I thought I’d never need to do. I even prayed I wouldn’t have to, but here I am counting down the days.

And so is he.

One of us counts the days as if Christmas was just around the corner.

The other counts more like she’s watching dead leaves fall from a tree dreading the long, cold, bitter days of winter.

He’s growing up. He’s excited. He’s ready. I just don’t honestly know if I’m ready.

My hope is from those that have gone before me. Friends who have gone down this path putting their children into the dorm. Friends who have lived in the dorms as children. Dorm parents who have loved their “jobs” and share their lives with “their” kids.

And that right there, folks, is where my pain lies. I know his dorm parents are going to be great and I pray they speak volumes into his life. But, I feel I’m handing my extremely precious jewel, a key to my heart over to someone else to care for and love. He’s my kid and I honestly don’t want to share him with anyone else.

My biggest fear? That he’ll love them more than he loves me.

Crazy? Maybe, but that is where my raw emotions are.

This new chapter is scary and unknown.

I’ve been at the scary unknown place before. Different reason, but it feels the same. Fear and Anxiety try to take a couch seat in my heart squishing Peace and Trust right off onto the floor. If Fear and Anxiety had their way, they’d push Peace and Trust right on out the door of my heart.

I don’t want that. I’m sure you don’t either.

What to do?

  1. Name what you are fearful of.
  2. Acknowledge if it is a real threat or not.
  3. Walk in truth.

For me my fear was losing my son to someone else. As soon as I wrote it out, peace broke through like a river (that song has never made sense to me until just now). And now I need to remind myself that I’m not losing my son. He’s just growing up. I can grieve that – but I also need to rejoice in the fact that he is growing up and becoming his own man.

Your Turn: Are you at a place that is Scary and Unknown? Or do you have some tips on sending your child to the dorm. Share your story and where you are in the comments below.

 

Advertisements

Make Sure To Say Good-bye

It’s the end of the school year, which means traveling with family, moving to a new place, or hanging out at home. Most parents and teachers of third culture kids know that they need to make sure there are opportunities for students to say good-byes properly. They have “Good-bye Parties” for their children; they take photos of their favorite places, and/or they have dinners with special people before they leave.

Alloway Kirk and Burial Place of Burns's Family

Photo by The Commons at flickr.com

Saying “Good-bye” well is something we should have our children do at the end of every school year or long vacation no matter if we are leaving or not.

Just last week I put in a music DVD for Jie Jie that we’ve had for over ten years now (Have DVDs truly been around that long now?). She requests it once in awhile, and on this particular morning I sat and watched her dance along with it. A song came on, this song in particular, and my heart wrenched.

I was flooded with memories from 10 years ago.

It was the last week of our time in Shenyang, China. Due to SARS, the school had ended a week earlier. My husband was the principal at the time, so we were making our last rounds of dinners and lunches with various people. This day we happened to be eating fish head soup with a Korean family when my husband got the phone call. An elementary student had gotten pinned down by a large iron gate just outside his home. He was dead.

In a haze of confusion and pain, a memorial service was arranged. The students who were still around all showed up, along with teachers and friends of the parents. “With All of My Heart” by Jana Alayra was one of the songs that was played that day. It had been one of his favorites.

Many of his classmates were not there that day. They had already traveled back to their passport country. *

We can’t know for sure that when school resumes in the fall, that your child’s classmates will all be there. So, if you have the chance help your young children say “Good-bye” well this year. Maybe it it’s just a handshake and the words spoken or maybe you go all out and have an end of the year party where the kids say something nice about each other. Either way, from this experience, I learned the importance of saying “Good-bye” every time.

*The school had another Memorial Service in fall for all the students, along with counselors to help them deal with such a huge loss.

Your Turn: What do you do to help your child/student say “Good-bye” at the end of the school year? Please comment below.

Related articles

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Importance of Good-bye

The last ride last night.

My guys left for the airport a few hours ago. They both needed to get back home. I am staying in the US for another month with the girls.

Each time we leave a place we make sure that we and the kids get the opportunity to say Good-bye, especially with family. Yesterday was that day for them. Most of my siblings came over for supper. One even brought their horses and dog so Ge Ge could have one last ride. After 10pm, hugs were given and some tears were shed. It was hard to watch.

More Good-byes this morning. More tears. This time harder for me to watch. Last night the tears were going out the door with them, but this morning as they pulled away in my sister-in-law’s blue Durango I witnessed the heartache of my family left behind. A behind-the-scenes moment if you want to call it that. Watching my mother and nephew was gut wrenching.

I’d like to skip this process and just sneak out when the time comes in a month. Bypass the tears. Skip the downcast faces. Miss the awkward silences of trying to come up with another topic to talk about to avoid the final good-bye. It sounds like a good plan, but my family would be furious and I know that the process of “grief” is needed for both sides.

Closure is needed. I’ve known this and my husband has made it a high priority to make sure good-byes are said properly.

 Properly = Eye contact, hug/handshake, and the words “Good-bye, Thank-you, Love you” spoken when appropriate.

The winter of 2009 my father passed away and I saw the huge importance of saying Good-bye. The previous summer we had the opportunity to be in the US with them. We had no idea it would be our last with him.

Yesterday we went to the cemetery with the kids. Mei Mei broke down crying because she wanted to hug him, to tell him Good-bye. I was able to remind her that we did that when we saw him last. We prayed and asked God to give him a hug for us and to let him know that we loved him. My heart was heavy, but so thankful that we were intentional about saying “Good-bye” that final summer.

We can’t know for sure when life here on earth is over. People die in car wrecks, plane crashes, and illnesses everyday. For this reason, each time we return “home” I have made it a point to make sure that I and the kids let the people in our lives know they are loved and special.

Your Turn: Do you do anything special with family when you leave them to return “home”? Please share in the comments below.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Saying Good-bye Stinks…

photo by flickr The Commons

Good-byes are never easy, especially when you live overseas. In many ways it is like death. You say your good-byes not knowing if you’ll ever see the person again here on earth. You depart. You cry. You see old photos. You cry some more. Then time passes and life goes on. You keep in touch with Facebook, email, and possibly even Skype, but most of the time you don’t.

It is hard, but what about our kids? Third Culture Kids grow up saying good-bye to friends every year. It is normal for them. Either they are the ones moving or a friend is leaving. It is just the way of expat life.

In a few days we will have to say good-bye to a couple of dear friends. We leave for the summer to visit family and when we return they will be gone. They are close friends of mine and their kids are close to my kids. So, how do we, as parents, help our TCKs deal with the coming and goings of people in their life? I’m not sure I have all the answers, but here is what I am trying to do this week.

1. *Talk about it. I have been talking to my kids about their friends leaving this year. We’ve talked about where they are going, how they feel about it, and to some extent what to expect next fall. For my oldest, he understands and has gone through this too many times for his ten years. As for my youngest, I don’t think she gets it. This will be the first time really for her to experience it. I’m expecting tears.

2. Listen. Stop talking and just listen to what your kids have to say about the situation. When my son was four, I cried with him when his friend returned to South Korea. Now I listen to my daughter tell me where her friend is going next. And I will sit and cry with her when reality hits.

3. Photos. Take photos of them together with their friends. Even if you have to force one from your older kids, they will be thankful later when they see it. This has been great for my whole family. We have photo albums of friends we’ve met along this expat journey. Make these photos visible if your children want that. Let them make a photo album of their own with memories of their friend(s) that are leaving.

4. Say Good-bye. Make sure they get the chance to say good-bye. Even if you need to drive a half hour to do so, just do it. Kids need that part of closure. Even better, offer to take the kids for ice-cream, swimming pool, or to the park. I’m sure the parents would appreciate the extra uninterrupted time to finish packing plus it is a great memory for both children. Another idea is to have them make cards for their friend leaving and be sure to exchange contact info with the family if you don’t already have that.

5. Listen. After the friends have long boarded the plane and are gone, listen again. It maybe a month later, but listen. Sometimes kids just need you to be there to cry with them. To know that it is painful and that you care about them. And then again, maybe they don’t want you around. Be flexible – don’t hover, but be available to listen. It’s a balance act that I can’t say I have mastered, but trying to fine tune it.

Saying Good-bye is never going to be easy, but I think we can help our kids make the transition by being there.

*I just read this article today by Julia Simens about transitions. I really like the idea of teaching my children that transitions happen ALL the time no matter if you are TCK being “left behind” or if you are in elementary school going into middle school. Transitions are a part of life, but I do believe that we need to help our kids through them. As you know,some transitions are a whole lot more fun than watching your best friend pull away in the car loaded with suitcases.

Your Turn: Got any tips on helping TCKs say “Good-bye” in a healthy way? Did you read Julia’s article? What are your thoughts? Please share in the comments below.

Enhanced by Zemanta