Yesterday, several of my friends’ kids started kindergarten, just like B would have been if we were living in the States. Seeing images of 5 year olds boarding school buses with sweet name tags and setting off for a familiar kindergarten experience got me a little panicky. Because now I’m wondering, what have I done to my kids? What am I doing to them by deviating from the “normal” (for me, as an American) experience? Now I feel like we’ve really turned a corner and stepped off of the path I know. Now it seems really real that the lives we’re living here are different.
My friends’ kids are going to kindergarten, on the school bus, in English, and learning how all of that works while mine . . . aren’t. Next year, when we’re back in the US, B will be expected to know how those things work (more or less) but he isn’t getting the benefit of being “new” right along with everyone else. They’re all expected to be new right now, to not really know how things work, and they’re all learning together. Next year, he won’t know, but he’ll be the only one.
Basically, I’m left wondering if the things he’s gaining by being here this year truly outweigh the things he’s missing. I’m freaking out a little. I hope I’m changing their experiences, not ruining them, enriching their lives, not making a mess of them, allowing them to learn new things, not setting them back. I hope, I hope, I hope. Only time will tell, really, but I also hope that as long as we all look at these altered experiences through the lens of “different, not less than”, that it helps.
(I also haven’t had a good expat freak out in a while, so I guess I was due.)