third culture kids (part 2)

I had planned on waiting a bit for the second installment of this TCK series, but the girls specifically asked to do another post, so here we go.

Interview #2 with Livi, Ava, & Nina, soon-to-be-TCKs

(Nina, reading as I type: Soon? Soon? Me: What are you talking about? Nina: Soon-to-be TCKs? What do you mean, soon? Me: You’re not officially a TCK until you’ve lived here for a year or so. Nina, kissing me on the cheek and patting my back: We’re almost there, Mom. We’re almost there.)

Me: So, hey, friends. Let’s get all honest up in here, shall we? This has been quite the angsty week, eh? I honestly don’t know how much of it is a.) cultural adjustment/life transition, b.) hormones/puberty, c.) spiritual warfare, and d.) some/none/all of the above. Does anyone want to fill the readers in on some things that have been going on lately?

(Okay, hold up. Time-out. Ava skipped out on the last interview because she felt uncomfortable talking about her feelings. This blog post was her idea, so I wrote questions in my journal, set up my laptop at the kitchen table, and we four girls gathered around, ready to go.)

(I think the answer is d.) all of the above, but I’m giving a special nod to spiritual warfare at the moment, because I KNEW something would happen to sabotage this interview. I felt it in my gut. I felt like I should pray and ask God to send demons packing and let nothing interfere with what we were about to do, but I ignored the nudge. Did I think this little blog post was going to make some huge kingdom impact and the devil was shaking in his pants? No, but actually yes, on a small scale.)

(So, what happened? First, I typed up about six words, and Gabe interrupts and asks me to come into the bedroom. He’s having some anxiety. I settle him down, come back out to the table. Start interviewing again. Ava refuses to talk. Livi gets upset. Ava puts her face in her hands. Gabe calls me back in the bedroom. I want to kick something. Or cry.)

(So, this interview is a little bit out of chronological order. Here’s how things went after I helped Gabe settle down the second time. Livi and Ava get angry at each other. They yell. Ava cries. She says she can’t answer questions. I tell her it’s okay. I’ll take her name off the interview. She cries. She wants to do it but she can’t. And she’s mad at Livi. I ask her if she wants to go in the bedroom, and I’ll ask her questions separately. Yes. But then she doesn’t answer. We discuss her attitude loudly. She says she’ll try again. Finally, I say, “Do you want me to just share some things from the 80+ emails we’ve written each other this week?” Yes.)

(Livi is beyond hurt/frustrated/angry/sad about Ava. This is another whole post.)

Interview with Livi, Nina (and Ava, kind of):

Me: Let’s start over. What are some things that have been going on lately?

Livi: We’ve been going to school and learning lots of new vocabulary. The zipper on my bag ripped.

Nina: No time with my mom.

(Nina and I had a movie date this afternoon. We watched two movies back-to-back, just the two of us on my bed. She’s kidding, right?)

Me: I actually meant some deeper things, some emotional things. Let’s start small. What 1-3 words describe your most frequent emotions as of late?

Livi: Excited, happy, and angry/annoyed.

Nina: Funky… angst… skimmed like chicken on a beefstick!

Me: ???

Me: Nina, what are your words?

Nina: What are my options?

Me: (bewildered)

Nina: Antidisestablishmentarianism?

Excerpt from Ava’s email to me: I know you are our mom and you have to do a lot! And you have a lot going on! But it is hard for me when everybody else is doing something else and I just want to get on my bike and ride somewhere! But I can’t so I have to push my feelings down and go with the flow. But sometimes I push to hard and explode and I just feel like crying and yelling and I want to punch someone in the face! But if I try to explain this to someone I can’t and that person gets over whelmed and gets mad. So I end up pushing those thoughts and things away but they keep coming back and it makes me more mad! Then I get angry and make every body else either angry then we are all mad and angry! 

Me: Next question. Your mom would describe each one of you as (varying levels of) needy recently. What does that look like for you?

Livi: Ava doesn’t want to talk to me. She won’t explain how she’s feeling to me. And, also, I feel like I don’t really care about one-on-one time with you (like Ava and Nina love). I just hate missing out on the times when I’m not there. I don’t like to be left out.

Nina: What do you mean by “describe your neediness”?

Mom: You tell me what it looks like for you. Like wanting to cuddle with me 100% of the time.

Nina: BAM. Write that.

Mom: Do you want to say 100% of the time or 24/7?

Nina: Whichever one sounds more professional.

Mom (as Nina): I want Mom to cuddle with me 24/7, and she won’t.

Me: Why do you think you’ve been feeling so needy?

Livi: I haven’t really been feeling that needy.

Nina:a I just feel like you’re always on your computer, and we never do anything together.

(Yeah, today’s 4-hour one-on-one movie/cuddle date has been completely forgotten.)

(This particular question, and my rebuttal, resulted in Nina crying and yelling.)

Me: Ava, you and I came up with a visual for how you’ve been feeling lately. Want to share it?

(I’ll summarize for Ava. She feels like she’s in a cage, like she’s trapped in our house much of the time. We have no yard, no place to go play with friends, and the emotional angst builds up and yeah. Also, if you want my personal opinion, she’s going to start her period for the first time any second. I think she’s on hormone overload and is looking for all kinds of things/people to blame her out-of-control feelings on.)

Me: What ways have you found to cope with your emotions when you’re feeling overwhelmed by them?

Livi: Draw.

Nina: Watch a movie. Over and over and over. 

(Part of Ava’s trouble is that she can’t find a hobby, something to act as therapy when she’s overcome by emotions.)

Me: What frustrations are you feeling with our day-to-day life here?

Livi: I feel frustrated with Ava for not talking to us and putting up a wall.

Nina: I feel like I’m in a funk. I have no clue what to do, no clue what to eat. I just want to sit down and cuddle with you and watch a movie. Funk, funky. Yep.

(Ava feels frustrated that, yes, we’re going to language school, and she knows that’s important, but it feels like Dad is the one who gets to do all the fun “ministry” stuff. When is it going to be our turn?)

Me: Okay, Livi. This is getting long. Want to wrap things up by solving all of our problems in a few quick sentences?

Livi: (Inappropriate answers. Blaming someone else for all of her woes.)

Me: I was thinking maybe you’d say something witty & funny, and we’d end the post on a cute note.

(Everyone is currently crying and/or angry at someone, and I just yelled at two different people for being ungrateful and unappreciative of every stinking effort I make around here.)

(Maybe next time.)

(In the time it took for me to read through this & check for typos, Ava apologized & hugged me and Livi. This is the first hug she’s offered Livi in quite some time. Nina is still crying, but she’s usually a pretty easy fix.)

(Can you say roller coaster?)

Livi: Roller coaster. 

10 thoughts on “third culture kids (part 2)

  1. Pingback: third-culture kids (part 4) | Marla Taviano

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  4. Chris Criner

    Have you heard of Staci Eldridge’s book “Becoming Myself” ? There is a young woman’s edition as well… I call it honey for a woman’s soul 🙂

  5. Glenna Woods

    I have a saying on my fridge that says If you sing “Where He leads me I will follow.” Better be ready for What He feeds me I will swallow.” I also have If I take care of my heart, God will take care of the wall. Sure these are things you’ve heard before but maybe the girls haven’t. Would be hard for all the changes, but God didn’t lead you there to fail. Love your stories.

    1. Sue Oda

      I admire you for being real. God did not send you there, drop you off at the airport and then leave you on your own! He’s still guiding, loving and holding you up each moment, and the difficulties are all in His plan! I cannot wait to hear of the magnificent things that happen because the Taviano family was obedient to His call! Still praying for you!

  6. kim

    Thanks for being real. Looks a lot like our house. You missed a typo:
    “Me: You’re not officially a TCK until you’ve lived her for a year or so.”

    You’re welcome. 🙂

  7. Nancy

    Hormones x 3 (4?). It might be a long adolescence. I only have one girl but the neighbor girls made up for it. Somebody was always mad at somebody and somebody’s feelings were always getting hurt. Fortunately they didn’t all live together so they’d get a break from one another….and there were 3 moms to go around. But on the bright side, every trait that you tend to see as a negative right now is an incredible strength/gift that God has given them. You’re raising some amazing (and hysterical) girls!

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