As the story goes, she wanted to marry and she wanted to travel too, so she married a man who had a gazillion stamps in his passport — only to discover that he never wanted to move again.
This is how it goes with so called Third Culture Kids, or TCKs, the term coined to describe kids who have a passport from one country and live in another. They tend to be either restless beyond measure later in life, always needing to be on the move to one place or another, or they tend to want to simply stay put.
There has been plenty written about TCKs in recent years, maybe most notably that when one is a child of the world it can be hard to form attachments later on. How do you connect when you know you’re always going to eventually be separated? Getting close to someone means inevitable pain with no payoff.
But there are payoffs. And sometimes there are attachments too. This morning The Cat reminded us of this.
The Cat, for those not familiar with our family life in Uganda, is sort of like The Prodigal. We don’t know if we’re going to get a phone call one day telling us to come and get him from jail. A playboy cat, he is, at minimum. After four years in our family now, we still never know if and when he will show up, making his way home from one of his girlfriend’s and the obvious affection he gets there.
But this morning, the first day back at school for the kids, he did.
We didn’t get much sleep. This is how it is when you cross too many time zones in too brief a time. The days become nights and the nights become a chore, especially knowing one has to get up in just a few hours to face the drudgery of a new school year.
But this morning, for the first time since we arrived in Uganda several days ago, The Cat appeared.
It was still before sunrise and Mom was in the kitchen and The Cat jumped on the washing machine just outside the kitchen window (The Cat never comes inside the house), to gave a hello, all of which is remarkable because Mom and The Cat aren’t what you would call soul mates.
And the kids, still in their PJs, barely out of bed, went out to say hello and give him some food and The Cat said thanks in that way with lots of cuddling along the kids’ little legs that showed he was genuinely happy.
And Dad breathed easier, sort of, knowing that The Cat is at least still alive, nothing to be taken for granted when leaving such an animal to his own wits for four months while we’re on the other side on the ocean in our Canadian home every year.
In this regard, I suppose, The Cat is as patient with us as we are with him.
The kids then ate their breakfast and put on their shoes and threw their school backpacks in the car and they were then driven off down the bumpy dirt road that runs from our home. And even though things will still be topsy-turvy around here for a while, The Cat sat still and watched them drive off and all was, more or less, back to normal.