There’s no question that reverse culture shock is a real thing. We experienced it in the minutes we got off the plane in Denver and were overwhelmed with how friendly people were – talking, smiling, asking questions… it felt weird and suspicious and strangely annoying. Because we are aware of the phenomenon of feeling a bit out of place in our home culture, we are able to talk through and laugh about it when we feel so rushed because the waitress brings us our check before we’ve even finished eating or I how I felt strangely claustrophobic the first time I got behind the wheel and drove a car.
But our girls don’t get it. They just know things are different and strange. They don’t have the ability to process the experience the way we do, and to make things even harder, Lebanon is their normal. Caleb and I are coming back to the place we have spent most of our lives, but for them it is the complete opposite. This is Ruby’s first time in the States and Isla has spent a total of about 4 months of her entire life in America.
Sometimes the things they notice are funny. Isla heard a neighbor’s garage door open and thought it was a bear. She wonders why all the houses here are “so small” because they aren’t nearly as tall as our building in Beirut. They both are soooo sick of driving in the car – Ruby actually grabs onto the side of the car door to try to keep herself out of the carseat.
Isla hated her first church service because she didn’t know any of the songs because they were in English. She was upset about the second church we visited because she went straight to Sunday School and missed the songs in ‘big church.’ She meets new friends and then is crushed when my answer to when we will see them again is “maybe when you are six.”
Life as a TCK is full of loss, and even though we are only here for a summer, we can tell Isla especially is feeling that, though she can’t quite process and verbalize it. She did tell us yesterday that she really wanted to go home to our house in Lebanon. She misses her Rapunzel dress, her princess hair and her friends from school.
We’re trying to talk through things a lot to help her process. She is having loads of fun, but at the same time, we can really see her struggling with the adjustments this time around.
One of the untalked about benefits of life as a TCK…. when you go to about the lamest parade ever, it’s still super exciting because until about 10 minutes before it started, you didn’t even know what a parade was!!!
(and for the record, we had lots of fun with our friends… even though the parade was a bit cheesy! :))