In the course of a year, we don’t travel a lot. But when we do travel, it’s often epic trips, including several countries, states, many planes and even more beds for my children to sleep in. I actually used to keep track of how many flights Isla had been on, but lost track around 30…. and I’m pretty sure that was before Ruby was even born.
We aren’t experts at all. Our oldest is only four years old, and so I know her identity as a third culture kid is still very much developing. She’s actually lived in the same apartment her entire life! But we already see her struggle with who she is. She finally understands that she isn’t Lebanese, but she can still be “from Lebanon” and traveling is definitely in her blood.
One of the things we do whenever we travel to help the kids transition… even if we’ll only be in that place for a few days… is let them unpack their things and organize their space as soon as they arrive. I think it helps them settle a bit into the hotel, room, house, wherever and gives them a bit of ownership of their current “home.”
So the first things we did when we arrived to our vacation house in Cyprus was to let the girls unpack their things. We stayed in a house that caters towards children, so we didn’t have to bring much with us besides clothes and a few of their toys. Bed, baby gates for the stairs and pool, play house, toys were all provided… and all those things immediately became “my bed, my baby, my scooter, my stroller.”
It didn’t really even cross my mind that 2 year old Ruby might be a bit confused. I loved her sing song voice piping up from the back seat as soon as we turned into the neighborhood… “home again, home again, jiggity jig!” And I should have gotten a clue when she got really concerned about Caleb turning in the rental car key.
But nothing prepared me for her reaction when the taxi pulled up to the door of our apartment in Beirut. “Home again!” I sang out, and when I opened the taxi door and she saw where we were, she burst into tears! Not the whiny, hungry kind of tears, but the truly heartbroken, sad kind of tears. “No! Want real house!” She settled down a bit as we trudged up the stairs, but when we opened the door to our apartment, she sat on the floor in the entryway and just wept. It was the saddest thing ever.
She’s fine now… Rediscovering her Barbies, stroller, dress ups and a random birthday card she got in the mail just before we left made everything better. But we’ll definitely be doing a lot more verbal processing with this one in the future!!