Saturday, August 4, 2012

TCKs and the Olympics

If you've never heard of "TCK" before, you're not alone. Most people haven't! It stands for "Third Culture Kid" and refers to children who spend significant growing-up years in a country other than their parents' passport country. My own children are different from many TCKs, as we were never in a single foreign country for more than 2 years, and we didn't go in the normal capacity of military, NGO work, or missions. But I'd still consider them 'third culture kids' because they've spent 40-60% of their lives overseas.

Enough of definitions.

The Olympics began a full week ago, but my kids and I only got to see our first footage of it a few days ago. We don't get TV at home, but discovered that one of our nearby libraries had a TV turned on with NBC showing Olympic competitions. The first game we saw was women's water polo, USA vs. Spain. The kids caught my enthusiasm: as I cheered for our team's goals and defenses, they started cheering too.

And then Naomi said something that startled me. "People in Spain are watching this game, too, aren't they Mom?" It wasn't an earth-shattering observation, but nonetheless it reminded me that Naomi's world has been expanded. She can cheer for the USA, while still understanding that we're not the center of the universe. She knows there are people in other countries, rooting for their own Olympic teams.

We enjoyed part of a women's volleyball game next, USA vs. China. I don't know much about volleyball, but I tried to teach the kids something, and once again, we were all cheering every time the US got a point. There was a time when the US had pulled a number of points ahead of China, and Josiah said (with sympathy, not gloating), "I bet the people in China are feeling kind of sad now." Another reminder of the value that comes from dwelling among another people. I almost teared up to think that Josiah would care what another nationality was feeling.

And finally, as we watched a women's 8 rowing race yesterday, featuring many close-ups of the USA crew, Naomi said in frustration, "Why are they only showing the American team? I want to see the other teams too!"

We are Americans, proud of our country and teams. But we're citizens of the world, and we cheer for Great Britain, Jordan and Nigeria too. We love to see excellence in others and we strive to feel their pain when they suffer. Thank you, children, for being TCKs and for having hearts that beat for the rest of the world...