I stopped the first little traveler mid sentence. It was the tone. There was something in the tone of the sentence that sounded a little hard done by.
"What do you mean we're not normal? What's normal?"
"Well, *insert eye roll* I've lived in six countries Mum, and I've been to three schools..." The tone was dramatic, a little bit how come they all got to go to the dance but I had to stay home.
I reminded her that this could have happened anywhere. That really she wasn't quite as unique as she perhaps thought. That children of army parents and itinerate workers all have to pack up and move often WITHOUT the luxury of private schools and hotel stays.
I reminded her that she has two parents who love her. I reminded her that she has a mother who drives her to school and picks her up each day. That she is fed good quality food, sleeps in clean sheets, travels to foreign countries, learns a musical instrument, attends birthday parties on weekends and goes to the corner shop for lollies every Thursday.
And then I agreed that yes, it was hard moving around and not having continuous access to grandparents (although we probably wouldn't have that even if we lived in Australia). I agreed that perhaps it would have been great to stay at the same school all the way through from kindergarten, or perhaps it would have been bloody awful. Who knows? Just don't tell me you're hard done by.
There's a name for children of expats, they're known at TCK's or Third Culture Kids. There's been books written and you can find websites to browse, conferences to attend and all sorts of material to head towards if you are so inclined.
I struggle a little with the concept of our hard done by TCK's. Yes, we need to acknowledge and discuss that moving and adjusting is hard work. However, we also need to acknowledge that TCK's are often surrounded by children with much bigger problems. If you've lived in Indonesia, India, Mexico, Libya or perhaps anywhere that ends with Stan, you've seen children with issues a little more serious. Problems like clean water, adequate health care, disease, and the loss of a parent. When there's a slum at your back gate, you know, just beyond your swimming pool - it should be a little harder to complain about those first world problems.
After watching the video below, I asked the children again last night where home was. Two answered without missing a beat, home was Australia. One of them was more specific, home was at the beach house. The other, melted my heart with this:
"Home is wherever you and Dad are. If we're all together it feels like home, wherever we are".
I think G and I have been lucky that we're both from the same country, the issue of where is home can be very confusing for a child if as a parent, you're not so sure yourself. What I liked about the clip below was a lot of the kids acknowledged the good bits and rationalized the bad. Okay, so you're not quite sure where you're from? Well, maybe you just haven't found it yet? The best bit is, you're the one that gets to decide.