It is becoming increasingly more difficult to write this blog. As we become more and more settled here, the cultural differences are less striking to me. I still experience them, of course, sometimes very pointedly, but I don’t want to be repeating myself tirelessly in this blog (nobody is on time, people are polite, blah, blah, blah). Plus, the meanings of these difference are hitting me at a deeper level, which of course is hard to share.
As a general update, the kids are doing well. They are happy and pretty well adjusted. There are still moments when I doubt whether we have made the right decision to stay here an extra year. For instance, when Jade comes home telling me about the latest fight at school (fist fight for the boys, “mean girls” type fight for girls), I wonder whether it’s normal nine and ten-year old behavior or a reflection of the general level of violence in this society. I hope for the former until I talk to a friend whose daughter is in Jade’s class at the Boston Waldorf School.
“Of course the kids get on each other’s nerves in our school”, she says. “But they resolve their differences very effectively. I think it’s a cultural thing. Just be careful that it doesn’t affect Jade’s self esteem in the long run.”
Ugh, I felt like I was punched in the gut. My number one goal for my girls has always been that they grow up feeling good about themselves. Will my wanderlust sabotage that? So far, Jade seems to be self confident and resilient. The hope of course is that this experience of living in a different culture, one that for the most part is much less privileged than our own, will make her stronger, wiser, more sensitive to the suffering of others, and more resilient and self confident for having learned to navigate new and challenging situations.
The fear on the other hand is that we have pulled her out of a fairly idyllic life to experience the “harsh realities” that most of the world faces at an age where it will mark her negatively, where the mean words of other kids will shake her self confidence and lower her self-image. Am I being realistic? Am I being too dramatic? It is hard for me to tell.
It’s back to the same thing. Being a parent is a huge responsibility. We make the best choices we can and we hope for the best. And what happens when it’s not clear what is best? Do we go back home and try to reinsert ourselves into the “idyllic” lifestyle, even if truth to tell, I found it a little stifling and monotonous? Am I being selfish? Or do we keep going into the great unknown, making the best choices we can along the way, trusting that it will work out for the best for everybody? (To be fair, Siena, our six year old, is doing great, is very happy here, has a very sweet class with a great teacher, and has the opportunity for things we could not afford at home as easily, like private horseback riding, tennis and ceramics lessons.)
So far, we are leaning towards the latter choice. And we are taking it one day at a time.