Transitioning to another culture is hard. Sometimes it’s brutally hard.
It’s like this: not only do I have to manage my own emotions, but I also have to help four children (and a husband) manage theirs. I (we) have to navigate the ins and outs of having a maid, figure out how to get money out of a bank and get groceries to the house without a car, learn the ropes of the buses and taxis and the layout of several different towns, feed a family, stock and manage a household, pay the rent and water and gas, learn to use cell phones and text (I am texting!)…and all of this (or mostly all) while speaking another language.
The simplest things take superhuman effort, like finding vinegar (located yesterday! in a stall in the market! score!). Getting a store to fill out a receipt can take an extra 15 minutes. Just finding a grounded extension cord involves visiting about 20 different hardware stores.
All of the children are struggling in some way or another, but one in particular (the one we knew would have trouble) is crashing and burning right and left. Her anxiety (same stuff she deals with in the States) is through the roof. It manifests in atrocious amounts of defiance and monstrous tantrums. All the kids, in fact, are coping attitudes.
Part of the problem (and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist, or child psychologist, to figure this out) is that we haven’t had a clear schedule for the last three weeks. Standard methods for discipline haven’t been an option. The children haven’t had regular chores or studies. Plus, they’ve been on overload from all the new things they are learning…
…Like how to smoosh into taxis and buses without fussing (too much).
…Like how to eat their food with tortillas.
…Like how to brush their teeth with a cup of water and take cold showers.
…Like how to put toilet paper in the trash can instead of the toilet.
It’s a lot of newness, and while often exciting and doable, new things all the time take a toll.
In the thick of dealing with a tantruming child, my typical feelings of over-whelmedness are ten-fold. Our regular support system is no longer at hand. (Yes, we have tons of support in spirit—never to be underestimated!—and there are lots of people here who are watching out for us, but it’s a far cry from the thick web of support we’re used to.) We are going this alone. That’s the hard truth.
Yesterday, for the first time in weeks, we had a regular afternoon rest time. Throughout the day, I had enough energy and resolve to follow through with discipline issues (and were there ever issues, hoo-boy). Perhaps we’re finally coming down a little bit, relaxing into this new place that is to be our home, and now, with the extra time and space, comes the payback for all the changes that we’ve gone through? Whatever the case, it’s emotionally exhausting.
The turmoil, stress, and angst is about to be increased, too (more on this soon), so we have a ways to go before we can truly settle and adjust.
But we will (I trust). And soon (I hope).