Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Kids

In just over 2 months we will have an eight year old and a six year old in the house. When did my babies get so big? Tyson and Jori have both done so well with all the different things that have been thrown at them this year. They left their friends, their house, their stuff, their schools, their culture and all the things that were normal and familiar to them. I am just amazed at the resilience of our kids and how they have adapted to a life that is very different from the one they lived for the first 7 and 5 years of their lives.

School is going great. Truly it is. I still do not have it all together or even half together most days. Our school year has been more of a day by day, cobbled together mess, but it works for us. Both kids are reading, writing and doing math. I’ve given up on spelling and social studies and science are pretty hit or miss, but I’m ok with that and the kids are too. The other day when Jori and I were at the playground she was asking where all the other kids were. I told her they were at school and she said “That is so boring. Did Tyson really have to go to school for 7 hours in Michigan?” That made me smile.

The kids have been making friends. It is hard because when we are out in Hammanskraal, we are a bit cut off from our church friends, which are the closest friends that the kids have. Our church friends all live about 45 minutes away from us and they are all in school. So to get together with them during the week doesn’t really work. The kids love Thursday nights when we go to cell and they get to play with people their age and they love Sundays because they get to go to Sunday school and then run around on the church playground and hang out with their friends. We do get together with our church friends at least once a month outside of cell and church, but most families are not like us, which means they don’t have nothing but time on their hands!

We’re house sitting right now and enjoying a bit of the “neighborhood” feel. Jori met a neighbor girl yesterday and she came over this morning to see if the kids could play. We were still in school, but Jori hurried through the rest of her work so she could go play with Ruth and they’ve been playing together ever since. I am so happy that Jori has found a friend to ride bikes with, go to the park with and play Barbies with, but I wish that Ruth had a brother so Tyson could have a friend to play with as well. Out of necessity, Tyson and Jori have become each other’s best friend and playmate, but now Tyson is the 3rd wheel and it makes my heart a little bit sad. Thankfully he’s been able to do some fun things with Darin today and he’s also having a lot of fun playing Lego Star Wars on the Wii. It’s nice for the kids to have a taste of their “old” life; the neighborhood, Wii, bikes, parks, TV and more.

I love how much the kids are learning about different cultures. South Africa, at least the South Africa we know, is a melting pot of cultures and languages. Our kids learn Tswana from Amos and German from our friends at cell. Tyson will dance with the ladies at an African church and then we sing songs in Afrikaans or Xhosa at our church, which technically is also an African church because it is full of Africans as well : ) They are being exposed to people who don’t sound like them or look like them or think like them and I believe it has given them a bigger picture of the world and the One who made it through these experiences.

It has been hard to watch our kids say goodbye to people and things that they love, but I believe that the things they’ve experienced are shaping them into children who think outside of themselves. They’ve given up toys, which was sad for both of them, but they’ve seen kids here who play with tires and tin cans and wire for toys and I think they are learning at an early age how wealthy they are and how many opportunities and things are available to them. At almost 8 and almost 6, they’re still kids, so they do struggle with wanting more, which is normal. I don’t expect them to be perfect little angels who are willing to give up all they have and live as model Christians  because of what they have seen and done here in South Africa (is there even such a thing as a “model” Christian??)  I just hope that Darin and I will both be able to build on the experiences the kids have had here to teach them to look at the needs of others and to realize how blessed they are and to be thankful for those blessings. 

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