A friend of mine just forwarded me a Newsweek article "A Team of Expatriates" that mentions that many of Obama's top advisers lived abroad as children and discusses how that affected their world view and their view of America.
This is something I think about quite a bit in regard to my own little family. Moving abroad is very stressful. Punkone started elementary school in a place where he didn't speak the language. In a place full of kids that were different from him. Because he has an Italian name, his teachers wouldn't give him the extra tutoring offered to a girl in the same situation but coming from Pakistan. His outbursts were classified as simple behavior problems. They refused to consider that it might be related to the fact that he simply wasn't following what was going on around him and was getting overwhelmed and frustrated with the situation.
Well, without going on and on, it was a trying year for Punkone. Fortunately, he is an optimistic kid and just kept dusting himself off and hopping right back in the ring.
But I see a change in him. He's changed from the happy, easy going toddler he was two years ago, into an explosive almost bi-polar kid. Everyday is either the "best day ever!" or "the worst day of my life!" (to this I always respond with a smile and say "the worst day of your life so far"... which maybe doesn't help so much). Some of this is certainly his personality and may have evolved in this way regardless... but I can't help but think the added stress of living abroad didn't help matters much.
Is it ignorant of me to stick to the convictions that living abroad will benefit this child? Must we struggle in order to grow?
This makes me recall an idea that has been replayed over and over again in my head from the movie Matrix (overall, not a great film, but bear with me). It was the reasoning behind creating so much suffering in the artificial world... that humans were not happy having everything perfect... that they needed the suffering... that they preferred it that way. I have formed different opinions about this sentiment over the years. At first, I thought, bull shit. How could humans not be happy in a world without suffering? Now I might argue that, no, we (as humans) don't prefer to suffer, but maybe we need to struggle. Maybe we get so much more out of ourselves and life by getting shoved out of our comfort zones.
Of course, I'd much prefer to struggle with a new language then struggle to feed my family. But maybe growth happens in either situation. At what point do the scales tip from growth to deterioration?
I seem to have gotten lost on a tangent. What was my point?
Ah... inflicting the struggle of moving abroad on our children for their own good. Making them endure being left out, confused, even lonely. I wish this move had been easier on him. Would I do it again? Yes. Despite it all, I see already a stronger person developing in Punkone. One more tolerant (overall). One more open. And one who I think will be glad for the experience as he grows and hopefully, make him a better citizen... of the earth.