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Monday, April 3, 2017

Kids One Year Ago and Today

We are only 13 months into life in a new country. From what the old-timers tell me, we are still in the very beginning, often rough stages of adjustment to a new language, culture, and home. But, still, it is so good to recognize the progress our family has made in feeling comfortable in our corner of Bangkok.


First family picture in Thailand taken in the outside kitchen of Michael's
aunt's house just a few hours after our plane landed.
Our daughters had no idea of the enormity of the change they were going through!
Over a year ago, in the week leading up to our big, international move and the two weeks after, 18-month-old Cora would not leave my arms. She sat on my hip all day, every day. If I set her down she cried. She watched our house in California, which she'd known since birth, slowly get gutted out as everything she knew went in the trash, sold on Craigslist, or into storage. Most of her toys and books disappeared as they were packed in boxes to be shipped to Thailand.

Then, one day, we got on a plane and arrived in a new very hot, humid place filled with the noises of tropical birds, barking dogs, and noisy motorcycles. She continued to live in my arms for another two weeks.

Whenever Cora saw a motorcycle or a Thai person, she buried her head into my shoulder. Motorcycles were too loud. Thai people were too threatening to her, always wanting to hold her and touch her. Bangkok is full of motorcycles and Thai people, so whenever we left the house, she closed her eyes and buried her face into my shoulder hiding from the world. For two whole weeks!



Both Cora and three-year-old big sister, Grace, threw some massive, category five tantrums during those first few weeks. They were induced by jet lag, no toilet paper in a bathroom, a slippery chunk of mango jumping out of chubby hands and landing on the dirty ground, finding seeds in their oranges, and other things. The whole nine yards. Screaming, flailing, whole body on the ground mom-and-dad-why-did-you-bring-me-here tantrums.

For the first couple of months, Grace completely and utterly refused to speak Thai. She would not say "hello" or "thank you" in Thai when we told her to. She was in utter rebellion and it was sometimes rude and embarrassing.

But, they've adjusted. (They had to!)


Wearing tutus and walking to a friend's house for dinner.


Picking up lunch from street food vendors and biking it home.
The category five tantrums are few and far between. And they are not caused by moving overseas stress anymore. They are caused by normal, irrational toddler and preschooler things like being way too tired before a nap and a parent forcing them to try to pee so they don't wet the bed while they sleep. You know, things like that.

Both girls speak dozens (maybe hundreds? don't keep track.) of Thai words. And they understand far more than they speak. Grace still sometimes refuses to speak Thai, but that's ok. We see her listening and learning and slowly making progress.

Now when we walk through the streets of Bangkok. They each hold a parent's hand. They hardly notice loud motorcycles passing just a couple of feet from them. 

The Thai strangers who used to scare Cora are now our friends and neighbors. They don't fawn over our kids as much anymore because they're no longer a novelty. But, when they do get special attention, our kids ignore it. Or sometimes Cora performs and flirts and sings and speaks Thai to feed the attention. What a difference from just one year ago!

2 comments:

  1. Lesley SalmonsonApril 4, 2017 at 1:14 AM

    I love this! So glad to hear the girls have adjusted. I love that the people are so adaptable - God is so good! I love the pictures of Bangkok too, my new favorite place. I hope one day when we are there visiting family that we can visit with you too!

    ReplyDelete

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