I am so often amazed at the similarities between homeschooliing and third culture experiences. Here’s another example!
Rachel, who blogs at Djibouti Jones, wrote a post called 15 Things I Want to Tell My Third Culture Kids. The post is a tear jerker (and so, so sweet), but this has got to be one of my all-time favorite parenting quotes.
I don’t know what it is like. I know what it is like to parent a TCK but I don’t know what it is like to be a TCK. I’ve read books and listened to talks and attended seminars but you are forging a path I have not walked. I’ve got your back and I’ve got a box full of Kleenex and an ache in my belly from our shared laughter. I do not know what your particular journey is like but I will hold your hand, fierce, until the very end.
Rachel states the obvious in a very loving way. First of all, her kids have great experiences and a great life. They have attended schools in different languages in different parts of the world, and her kids call a lot of places home.
But yet, as she says, being a third culture kid comes with its own struggle. Struggle is not necessarily bad, but a struggle is a struggle. And so Rachel tells her kids, “I don’t know what it’s like to be a third culture kid.” And she doesn’t. She does know what its like to leave her home country, but she doesn’t know what its like to be the kid whose never quite sure what her home country is (or if she has one at all).
Can I say I wish more first generation homeschool parents would say this?!!
You see, like the third culture kid, being a homeschool kid provided me with an enriching experience and adventure. I did not have to sit at a desk all day. I grew up around a unique community, and spent the majority of my time outdoors.
But might I add: my mother knew what it was like to be a homeschool parent, but she did not know what its like to be a homeschool kid. She did not know what its like to grow up in a sub-culture her peers were not apart of, nor what its like to enter that culture all her peers had grown up in.
A while back I wrote a post on Potential Drawbacks to Homeschooling. Some people misunderstood this as an attack on homeschooling in general. I have never said that homeschooling is invaluable or not enriching. Far from it, homeschooling is enriching, and I love the fact that I spent more hours of my life running free than in a desk. I said that homeschooling comes with a struggle, a struggle that is not inherently bad but exists. I have said that, like the third culture kid, many homeschoolers are suspended as the foreigner in her own land and often struggle to come to grasp with their place in mainstream culture. Time again, I have tried to convey that first generational homeschool parents don’t know what its like to be the kid in that struggle. My mother has no idea what its like to be the homeschool kid. She grew up mainstream, went to school, and had friends. Then as an adult she was sucked into a sub-culture. Yet Mom continued to have the ability to relate to mainstream culture because she grew up mainstream.
Mom and I just had this conversation tonight. She was talking about church camps she attended when she was a kid. “You guys never wanted to attend church camps,” she said, “it just wasn’t in your personality.” I have no idea whether my personality would have enjoyed camps or not (I never went to one), but I do know that by the time I was in middle school, I had no way of relating to any kids at church because I did not go to school or have any regular activities (other than church) with school kids. And so my life was an enriching adventure, but it was very different than the road others walked.
I wish my mother had been like Rachel. Her post made me cry because that’s what I always wanted my mom to say.
That’s all, really.