So here we are. Back home. In “America,” as Logan calls it.
For three of the five of us it’s a place we don’t know, so there is some adjusting to do. Luckily, those three are little, adaptable, and easy-going (for the most part), so the twenty-four hour travel journey, followed up by an international move, a new home, a new school, and new friends and activities didn’t phase them much. Yes, we miss Thailand (BIG time — and probably me the most), but the kids are really enjoying a change of pace and getting to reconnect with grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. They are also learning a thing or two about the seasons, the concept of having neighbors, the luxury of having a back yard to play in, that there are public services like water fountains provided in parks and airports (and you can actually drink the water that comes from them), what real trick-or-treating is, what a chimney is and how Santa makes his way down it, what a postman (oh, and a mailbox) looks like. It’s the little things, really. Every once in awhile they ask for the beach, or to swim, or for certain friends in Bangkok. And sometimes they ask for “gai thawt” (fried chicken) with “kaow niaow” (sticky rice). But for the most part, they seem to have adjusted well. It’s the times I get nostalgic and show them pictures of our time in Thailand that I can tell from their reactions that they miss it, too, but perhaps not in the way that I do.
I found Thailand hard to leave on a number of levels – the warmth of the people, the ease of life, the year-round warm weather that allowed beach trips every month, the food, the ability to travel elsewhere in region so easily. And then there were the people we had to say goodbye to – our friends, school mates, teachers, work colleagues and the people who worked in our home. Uncle Noodle and the tuk-tuk tea shop lady along our street. After all, we did see them nearly every day for almost four years. I started to get emotional a day or two before we departed Thailand. I had an all-out emotional melt-down taking Logan to preschool the last day and saying goodbye to his teachers and other parents. On our way back to the U.S., we stopped off in Oahu for a few days (highly recommended, by the way), and I continued to be emotional. In fact, I didn’t really stop being emotional for a short time after that. Now I feel adjusted, but still nostalgic for our time in Thailand.
It took me awhile to clear my head, but I finally realized why it was so particularly hard for me to let go. Leaving Thailand meant leaving behind a stage in our children’s lives – a young and innocent stage, a stage of their “firsts” (words, steps, day of school). It meant leaving behind the place where two of our daughters were born and a place that nearly fully shaped the first four years of our son’s life. It meant that our children were growing up. And I was learning that I was going to have to start accepting that. And that is one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with as a parent this year. Not the tantrums, not the lack of sleep, not the constant demands of three little ones all at one time. It’s the fact that they are growing up and things won’t be the way they are today come tomorrow.
The day-to-day of being a parent seems to go by so slowly, but the years go by quickly. So never forget to cherish today. Live in today. Be patient in solving their problems because tomorrow, it may be a problem that they can solve on their own.
Also, I am going to need to invest in Kleenex stock next year when Logan starts kindergarten.