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No problem going #1 in the toilet...but #2 is a whole different story!

The Huang family newsletter


Two weeks after arriving back in North America, the tantrums started again.

To be fair, Nolan’s tantrums had decreased significantly in the latter half of our time in France. We had chalked it up to his age: he had turned 3, he was more expressive, he was more mature, and he was finally getting out of the tantrum stage.

We were so wrong.

Nolan was finding all sorts of reasons to throw a tantrum: putting on clothes, taking off clothes, putting on shoes, taking off shoes, getting water to drink, getting something other than water to drink. For the life of us, we couldn’t figure out what was going on.
We had just moved into a month-long residential training program in Colorado called MTI. (The program is designed to give us tools for language acquisition and cross-cultural adaptation.) Colorado was the third of eight stops on our slow, westward journey toward Gabon.

About three weeks into our training at MTI, we had a lecture on change and transition. Transition, we learned, is a bit like crossing a shoddy, rickety bridge: between the two stable ends of the bridge lies instability and chaos. Crossing the bridge of transition can be distressing and precarious, for adults and children alike.
It occurred to us that perhaps Nolan’s behavioral regression was a sign of unwanted transition, or even homesickness. In fact, he had practically said it himself upon first arriving at our hotel-style room in Colorado.

"This is not our home," he had declared with a precocity to which we were not accustomed. "This is our borrowed home."

It seemed funny that Nolan might be homesick for France, but seeing as he turned 3 years old there, his first memories are probably of the small elevator in our Albertville apartment where he got to press the floor selection buttons, or perhaps of the parking lot outside the language school where he spent countless hours playing with his friends.

After hearing about Nolan's woes, our assigned “personal coach” at MTI (a surprisingly intuitive man named Jeff) affirmed: “You guys have been living unsettled and in chaos for the entirety of Nolan’s life. It’s no wonder he’s acting out.”

Our MTI personal coach, Jeff.

Jeff was right. Our impending move to Gabon in October will be the fifth move of our short, 6 years of married life together. Nolan has celebrated each of his three birthdays in a different country, and he will celebrate his fourth in yet another.
We realized that we’ve never had the opportunity to completely settle or re-settle anywhere, much less put down roots. Our lives have simply been one transition after another.

In a sense, we had sort of expected Nolan to sail through the transitions. After all, he’s three: how much is he really going to remember? How much of this would really impact him in the long run?

It seems we misjudged Nolan. He, in his own way, was grieving the change and the loss of familiar contexts and friendships. And as we learned near the end of our time at MTI, grieving itself was important. Sadness and grief could be our ally, allowing us to let go of what we no longer had, in order to make room in our hearts for what we can or will have.

In a few short months, we soon will have new friends, a new home, and new jobs, all in a new country. But for now, as we travel between other people's houses and sleep on foreign mattresses, we mourn the loss of our own home and grieve the good things we had before. (Or, if you're three years old, you mourn and grieve by refusing to poop in the toilet and throwing multiple temper tantrums a day. I guess that's legit?)

And now...for some family pictures!

Solène takes in the breeze at Cannon Beach, Oregon. We didn't really talk much about her this newsletter, but that's because she's basically perfect! She's now 8 months old.
anDrew's uncle, aunt, and cousin visited us while we were at MTI training in Colorado, and we took a short walk through the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs.
The travels continue! We are happy to reconnect with many of Kim's friends and housemates from her med school days here in Brisbane...
...though nothing says "we're in Australia" like feeding kangaroos at the zoo!
We're on the road, and we're coming to east Asia next! To check out where we're traveling and how to see us, click on this recent newsletter: We're coming to a continent near you!

Or check out these other recent newsletters:
How French is like dying of dysentery
When butchering a language...
Spring break support report

French should be easy!
     
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Copyright © 2018 The Huang Dynasty, All rights reserved.

This newsletter is about Andrew, Kimberley, Nolan and Solène Huang: their journey from the US to Canada to France and, ultimately, to Bongolo Hospital in Gabon, West Africa, with the Post-Residency Program of Samaritan's Purse (World Medical Mission).

The views and opinions expressed here are solely ours, and they do not necessarily represent those of Samaritan's Purse or World Medical Mission.

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