Monday, July 15, 2013

My Third Culture Kid

Eleanor, my firstborn, turned 4 this past week.  We threw her a party that included American missionary friends and Haitian neighborhood friends.  There was pin-the-hat-on-the-Minnie-Mouse, a craft, and lots of running around and general noise-making.  There were no presents, though.  That was on purpose.  Being the third culture kid that she is, she doesn't know there are supposed to be presents at a birthday party, and she doesn't have any commercials on television or friends from school telling her that there should be presents.

There has been a lot written lately about third culture kids, with all the international travel that happens now.  For those of you who haven't ever heard of the term, it refers to a child who is raised in a country other than their parents' country of origin.  So, the child is exposed to one culture at home, and another outside the home, leading them to adapt by forming their own 'third culture'.  I think my kids are too young to really exhibit a lot of third culture behavior, but one thing I have noticed is that they are very adaptable.  They are accustomed to bumpy roads, rain on the tin roof, and sleeping under mosquito nets.  But they also do just fine in air conditioning, eating fish sticks and watching cable t.v.  I love how adaptable they are.  I love that living in Haiti means that Eleanor didn't ask for an American Girl doll this year, because she has no idea what that is.  What I don't love, however, is that sometimes living in Haiti means I can't give my kids what they ask for.  This year, Eleanor wanted strawberry cupcakes with flowers on top, and a helium balloon ('like the one Mimi had') for her birthday.  Two simple requests that would have been so easy to fulfill in the States.  Here in Haiti, though, it was a pretty tall order.  Even the fanciest grocery store in Port au Prince didn't carry strawberry cake mix this month, and the only place in town that advertised helium balloons could only fill an order for a large quantity, not a single balloon or two.  So, Ryan and I improvised.  I bought a white cake mix and dyed it pink.  Ryan's uncle Jerry told us that pennies in muriatic acid would create hydrogen that would float a balloon.  Ryan tried this technique, and I was upset that I wasn't home to see his attempts.  Apparently they involved oven mitts, safety goggles, and a mad dash out the door.  In the end, the balloons didn't float.  So, when all was said and done, Eleanor got a birthday party with friends that involved pink cupcakes and nine red balloons (some of which appeared to float using the magic of duct tape).  How did my third culture kid respond?  Well.......

I think she liked it just fine!