The Things We Never Master

I watch them clamor at the back door, waiting for me to unlock it. They are chanting and marching and wearing matching fire fighter hats. Gabriella's hair sticks out from underneath, flying in ever direction. I am amazed by how tall she has gotten.

Isaac pushes himself in next to her, trying to join in with her original song chant. His chunky thighs move as he's wearing only underwear, finally potty trained during the day much to our delight! His outfit is complete with Batman rain boots.

I unlock the door, and they spill onto the back deck, whooping and hollering and heading for the sand box. I watch Isaac watch Gabriella.

"Man, he's going to miss her next year," I tell Billy.

"Next year?" He looks at me. "And by next year, you mean in a few months?"

The start of kindergarten has opened up a new area of cultural misunderstanding in our lives. Billy keeps trying to remember that school will start in August, though in Guatemala each new year starts in January.

To make matters worse, I (and I keep telling him I'm not alone in this) keep saying "next year" in reference to the school year schedule. And he keeps countering with the calendar year. It always makes me giggle. (Okay, not always.)

It's amusing to see this little cultural hiccup emerge after all these years. So often, our familiarity with each other and our residence in the States has merged our lives in ways that we don't encounter our cultural differences in the same ways we used to.

And yet, as we enter this new, school-age season of parenting, we again discover those places where we have unique defaults, different assumptions, and our own interpretations. We are always learning more about each other and trying to communicate our perspectives.

Because in marriage, in parenting, and in cross-cultural living, you never master it. (At least I don't!) Every new season shines light on a fresh lesson. The kids keep changing and growing, and our marriage adjusts along with them. And our cultures peek out and surprise us when we least expect it.

There's something comforting to me about considering these elements as a journey. I'm rarely one to give parenting advice because I always feel like I'm winging it. Same goes for marriage and for living across cultures. We take steps forward, we learn. We mess up and we step back. We learn some more. We cannot master these things because they involve relationship. They flex and shift. And this is the way it goes for us. And I'm quite okay with that.

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