The summer I turned eight years old I spent a day at the beach. It was supposed to be fun—a family day with my sister, mom, dad, cousins, aunt, and uncle.
I want to say there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the sand was clean and white, and it flicked up behind our heels as we ran. I wish I could tell you that grit stuck to our legs, and we had enough sand throughout our shoes and clothes to build our own beach when we got back home. But I don’t remember any of that.
Maybe I was sweating and sticky and eager to cool off in the water. Maybe I lingered on the beach like I usually do now—only dipping in when my body can’t take the heat, and only long enough to take the edge off before getting out and sitting on the sidelines again.
I don’t remember that, either.
I remember the moments immediately leading up to what happened.
When my son was only two, my husband told our friends that his first child was a genius.
Okay. Maybe he didn’t say those words exactly, but he did like to inform anyone who would listen that his two-year-old son knew the whole alphabet (upper and lower case), could tell you all the letter sounds, and could count and recognize numerals as well.
During these cringe-worthy revelations, the realist that I am, I’d take it upon myself to divulge the rest of the story. Between the obligatory ooooh’s and ahhh’s from the poor recipient of this information, I’d fold my arms and my usually soft-spoken, barely-there voice would speak up with an uncharacteristic sarcasm. “What he’s not telling you,” I’d say, “Is that he knows all of that stuff only because we’re lazy parents who use the iPad as a babysitter.”
Several months ago I took my children to a coffee shop and treated them to a smoothie. One cup for the two of them to share would be plenty . . . at least I thought so at the time.
Their faces tell the story:
I mentioned in a previous post that I have the best conversations with my son at bedtime. After the lights are turned off and his little brain is unwinding and re-playing and all the thoughts he had in his head during the day, sorting out his questions and observations, we lay in bed together listening to the monotonous noise of the air purifier cleaning the air, and every so often he’ll make a statement or ask a question that provides a little window into his heart. Sometimes his questions make me giggle; other times they make me think.
A while ago he asked me, “Mommy, why do we have so much stuff?”
I never moved as a child. My parents still live in the same house that they lived in when I was born. I graduated with many kids who I remember in my kindergarten and first grade classes. But my own two children, for better or worse, will grow up as third-culture kids. By the time they graduate from high school, they likely will have attended five different schools and will have lived in as many countries. Moving from Korea to China was only the first of several transitions for them.