I find myself trying to imagine how J will think as he grows up. I want him to understand critical thinking and individualistic goals from our passport culture. I also love how he is learning to consider the whole above the individual here. Those things don't exactly all fit together nice and neat. It's a bit like direct/indirect culture which we see clash in our home. Ty and I are direct-we come from an upbringing and culture that values direct communication. We have learned to approach God this way as well. We read scripture such as where we are told to approach God with confidence for he is a loving father who delights in giving his children good gifts. So we teach this to our children. And yet, our kids are learning through their culture here in school, how to approach and ask for things much less directly. I struggle to know how to best parent. Direct isn't right and indirect isn't wrong. However, I do not know how to confidently approach God indirectly. So at home, we continue to shape our kids' thinking with teaching them the value of being direct sometimes in situations. We don't know how to disciple them in this area other than our own experiences. We can learn from them however. It is fascinating to watch indirect approaches play out and we study and observe and try to understand their viewpoint. We try to teach and lead and guide without assigning value or worth to the differences in culture.
Back to thinking about how J will think from his education I find myself wondering if we should keep him in this system the whole time. If we stay here through his school years, there is so much benefit to him going through this local system. He will be trilingual if he works hard to use the various local languages. He will have a huge headstart to his peers back home in math and sciences. It is a great system here. We are thankful that he can attend free public school and know it is a good education. Sometimes though I am sad for what it isn't. He will not learn how to write a good story. He won't read the great literary works I grew up loving (unless I keep reading with them at home!) He won't have the amazing Literature teachers I had that are still some of my favorite teachers ever, and the ones with the longest impact on my life. He won't have the innate drive to the American dream and the unspoken promise of "if you try hard enough you can do/be anything." However, he probably will value family and relationships above money and possessions. Hopefully he will love a pace of life that has a rhythm to is, one which slows at certain paces and really rests. He will know what true vacation is from summer holidays where life changes from work to rest and relationship.
Just when I think things get easier, in terms of understanding more and more of the culture we have chosen as home, things also get harder. Deeper things come up to be wrestled with. Often, only being put back on the shelf because they are not easily categorized into where they should be placed otherwise. They will come out and grapple from time to time. Each time, I understand myself a little more and see the world a little more clearly. And yet, each time, I also am changed a little bit more from who I was raised to be, into a new mix of all experiences mashing up into who I am becoming.
What a ride this is! What an adventure and still I have no idea what we are doing in this whole parenting thing and if it will all turn out ok or not. That pushes me back into the arms of the One who I know is the perfect Father. And once again I am so thankful to know Him, and to know He is also there for our kids!