International friends often comment about how we just pick up where we left off whenever we get back together. We vacation in each other’s countries, crash at each other’s houses, and use each other as tour guides after years apart. The elephant in the room is this: How will our friends’ KIDS change over the years? And will we WANT them to visit?
One of my close friends in Shanghai was a New Jersey gal named Colleen (aka Col, Shiny, Shiny Pop Pow, Sheila Pot Pie and who knows what else?). Her daughter Brenna was in early elementary school at the time and had some mighty fine dance moves, not to mention prehensile toes like mine that she could spread apart or use to pick up objects. Our favorite story about Brenna continues to make its way around the world and epitomizes what it means to be a Third Culture Kid. Her grade 2 spelling test featured weather words, but instead of “typhoon,” she wrote, “Thai food.”
Of course this story surfaced last week when Shiny brought Brenna to India for their fall break last week. “I even asked two times,” she recalled. “‘Really? Thai food?’ and Ms. Nutting said, ‘Yes! Typhoon.’ But I heard, ‘Thai food.'”
I forgot to ask about her toes or her latest dance moves, but I can say that she blew me away with her curiosity and enthusiasm, maturity and confidence, sense of humor and knowledge of India. More than once, someone would ask a question about Indian history, food or religion, and Brenna would have the answer. Amazing! I must admit my heart swelled when she badgered our tour guide with questions at the Udaipur Palace. I do believe I’ve found my Guide Hog Jr.
Oh, I was also thrilled to see Shiny! But I knew I would be.
I wasn’t so sure how I’d feel about spending my weekend with a teenager. I adored LITTLE Brenna, but … you know, now she’s a TEENAGER. What a glorious relief to say I loved every minute of my time with her, and I can’t wait to see both of those goofy, gorgeous girls again soon.