We are leaving for Paris this summer 2020. We will complete the school year in Mississippi before heading across the Atlantic. We are a loud, raucous family of 3 boys. Nothing is off limits to be destroyed. No amount of lecturing will rein in the noise. We aren’t quite sure what is ahead for our 12 year old, 10 year old, and 7 year old.
Our family, like many, is consistently inconsistent. We make our plans, then adapt to the reality of 3 young boys. We try, however, to be consistent. Can we provide opportunities to learn, to play, to see, and to go? From a classic children’s book always on hand to read aloud, to dabbling in nearly every sport, to setting goals for swim and grades, to traveling as a mischievous bunch of 5 on airplanes, trains, and automobiles, we are committed to raising leaders of our 3 boys for their future.
We will share some of our favorite places as a family in future posts: the tube in London, a village in Honduras, the Golden Gate bridge, Lake Tahoe, driving the plains of America, crossing the snowy Italian & Austrian Alps, bonding with family at Darden Lake, and traversing Venice, Italy by boat. Best of all, our children have met the people of these places and solidified a love for all.
So there is excitement for Paris. As parents, we know our kids’ lives will be enriched. There is also trepidation. We leave the safety of great schools, a secure home, close knit relationships, and people who will go the extra mile for our kids.
And yet, kids quickly learn, despite their parents’ best efforts, that things do not always go their way. They don’t get the present they want. They don’t make the team. They don’t get a date. They cut their knee. They fall from the tree. The world offers them endless possibilities, and we will never hamper those moments to learn, to grow, to see, to seek, to get up, and to change our world. As parents, our philosophy is to provide all of this: the challenges, the opportunities, & the home, wherever we land.
So our kids are excited! Paris has swim teams, basketball teams, and of course, football (European style) in abundance. Perhaps a baseball team or league needs to be formed? Even more so, it has great schools and other children from all over the world. They will learn the Paris metro, how the arrondissements differ, see churches in a different context, go to the market, go to Normandy beaches, all while doing the everyday life of sibling rivarly, unfinished chores, and dreaded homework. Not to mention, they’ll learn their first foreign language of French, even as God is developing their unique voice.
We believe our going will be our greatest gift to our children.
As usual, we could count on our 3 children producing a spectrum of reactions to our news of moving to Paris. The beauty of family is we surprise each other. Our oldest child’s first reaction was “Let’s Go!”. He is an adventurer at heart, even if he only has a sliver of information about the next horizon to be conquered. The amount of faith he looks into the future with is remarkable, a testimony to a more security oriented parent.
Our middle child with autism & a language disorder jumped up with a huge smile and said, “I want to go to Paris.” I reminded him it’s not the same as the cartoon we were currently watching about visiting the Eiffel Tower. He insisted, “I want to fly to Paris”. When I gently reminded him that we won’t be living in our home in Jackson anymore, he quietly processed that and responded, “I want to go to Paris.” Children with autism are an intriguing mystery in how their brains process the world around them, but our middle child loves external stimulation. His only requirement for stability is to be close to his parents. He loves airplanes, road trips, trying new restaurants, parks, the outdoors, riding public transportation – really, he loves any new vista for the day.
Our youngest child cried for 20 minutes straight when we told him the news. An astute social observer, he had sensed a big change and overheard snippets of conversation before we officially told him. His reaction was partly anxiety & fear released, and we did not deny him those feelings. When his tears slowly stopped flowing and words could follow, he worried about not having a trampoline park like Altitude or a grocery store like Kroger in Paris. How certain children clearly need security posts to remind them the world feels safe is a teaching point to us parents: each child is unique.
We cannot dismiss deep fears that drive each child and adult, fears our Lord wants to meet us in – in the minuscule details to the imposing decisions. We had let our youngest’s 1st grade teacher know we were sharing the news. She did an excellent job of weaving Paris into their daily curriculum. By the end of the week, he came home proudly sharing the French ties to the Statue of Liberty and the fabulous news that Disneyland is in Paris.
After we had time to process the initial news, we asked each one of them what they are most looking forward to going to Paris and how they feel.
Our oldest: It’s different. It’s cool. I’m excited to be in a new place. Sad to lose a lot of friends, but hoping they will keep up with us. I hope people come to visit. I will miss the swim team, Mississippi sunshine, and how close and convenient school is.
Our middle child: He couldn’t list one thing he would miss about Mississippi. He always cries terribly when we come home to Jackson from a road trip or some type of travel, so he told us he won’t miss Jackson. Instead, he said he is excited about Paris, a new house, a new city, the Eiffel tower, and airports.
Our youngest child: I’m both excited and sad. I will miss friends. I don’t know about Paris. I’m excited to see the Eiffel Tower. I’m sad to leave friends. When I asked him if he was scared, he nodded his head.
As a third culture child myself (people raised in a culture other than their parents’ or the culture of their country of nationality for a significant part of their early development years), I am very sensitive to the loneliness and fear I anticipate will be part of the process. What our kids think about moving to Paris is the most common question we get after the typical questions of what will you be doing in Paris and why did you choose Paris. Underneath the inquisitiveness about our children is a concrete truth about our move: will fears triumph and fracture our family or will we as a family find something beautiful in the hardships of a move to Paris? The truth is every family has a unique footprint, a footprint each parent must navigate.
In my own childhood, growing up as an international third culture kid was a mixed blessing. I received a manifold of gifts from a friend group of over 30 nationalities, traveling the world for sports events, being educated at the best international schools. But the inner world of my family of origin suffered from serious dysfunction. There is a real cost to the stresses of living outside your country of origin and in absence of deep community (my parents were introverts at heart). One of the reasons I was so inclined to live in Mississippi is the stability of place and deep knit community attracted my childhood heart.
But growing up, I didn’t know God’s love chases after us. I didn’t know God’s most repeated command is “Do not fear, for I am with you.” I didn’t grow up a Christian. My family, and I by default learning from them, relied on our own abilities and strengths – and how fragile those strengths really are. My father – our champion, our fearless leader, and our rock – had his strength stolen by illness and death from early onset Alzheimers at age 60. My family of origin is a testament to trusting yourself and your gifts and seeing it all fall apart right before your eyes.
I look at my children now and keenly hear their voices. In each of their responses, I see God’s handprint. As adults, we bury our fears instead of bringing them to the fore. Stability of place does not shield your child from real fears and unexpected challenges in life. This move is producing enormous intentionality in parenting. They no longer live in a bubble. I have to educate my children about Paris and this move. They are a little clueless. There are so many surprises awaiting them on the other side.
But if I am honest, I am walking into this new life a little clueless myself. I can default to trusting my strengths: control, over research, and over organization. What do our kids think about moving to Paris? They are excited and scared – just like me. We are taking a plunge into new schools, French language for our whole family, homeschooling in a foreign country, cultural differences in teaching styles, and different philosophies about encouragement of the child. Everyone in France has told us it will be hard. And it will be. I do not deny that reality. But this time, at least for me, we are going as a family wide-open to God’s instruction and edification, trusting that He will calm the storm in each of us and store peace in all of our hearts. We can’t do this alone – or on our own strength.
Please pray for us and keep following us. We would love to keep a digital connection with many we love.
WHEN ARE YOU MOVING?
When are you selling your house? When is your departure date? We get these questions almost daily. There are so many unknowns. We have only 1 known about our departure date: We cannot leave until we raise 80% of our support. We have reached 20% of our goal already. Thank you to our partners! We will be reaching out to you this week.
If you are interested in partnering or told us you plan to partner, please join us today on this journey by clicking here. We cannot matriculate our kids in school until we reach our goal! We are trusting God in this process and would love you to partner with us.