The Parental Party Line

7 weeks!

That’s how long we have called Bangkok home. It feels exciting and unknown and increasingly familiar. Some days it feels like we were in Canada just yesterday and on other days, our Canadian life feels removed by years.

As seems to be the case with most major life transitions, before it began we started to think through what we would do, should do, and wouldn’t do once we moved. Toss jet lag (both the adult and child versions), language barriers, traffic like we cannot describe, and the usual adjustments of being in a new place, and suddenly all the coulds, woulds, and shoulds seem remarkably less applicable. So the things that do remain stand out like pillars in a forest of crumbling “I thought it would be like this”.  Parenting stands strong in the landscape of adaptation.

In the midst of so much change, we have been surprised at how little our kids have questioned. They’ve just rolled with it – mostly. If anything has surprised us, it’s been their seemingly effortless level of comfort in this new place. There are a few factors at play:

At their ages, we remain their anchor and so our familiar faces and home space become all of the rooting they need to not only withstand, but embrace Thailand. Our hope is that this embrace blossoms into a true love and excitement for this country and her people.

Upon arriving we made a strong effort to “show off” Bangkok and we splurged on some great kid-friendly family experiences. We cannot do that all the time, but it was a way to “wine and dine” our kids into an excitement for Bangkok. Read more about that here.

On either side of this transition, we have towed the parental party line: we are on an adventure – it’s exciting. Before departing Canada we invited our friends and family (and basically anyone we had direct contact with) to not use language about separation, distance, fear, mourning, sadness, or loss. These are all elements of uprooting to another part of the world. We do not deny them, but we also don’t want to dwell on them. Rather we asked you to use language about adventure, excitement, continuity with Mom and Dad, and privilege (as not many people have this same opportunity). These are also real parts of moving cross-culturally.

Much like telling kids to “be brave” before their first trip to the dentist, our well-intentioned encouragement makes them pause and wonder, “be brave – what do I need to fear?”

Our kids will encounter the full reality of cross-cultural living soon enough. And we will navigate that together in time (we have some thoughts forming). We haven’t even begun to tackle reverse culture shock when we one day visit Canada. In the interim, we continue to feed our children’s curiosity and desire to understand this place we call home. very soon, we fully expect them to be opening our eyes to the world around us.

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