Posts Tagged ‘Homestay’

Today our ‘kids,’ who are not, will go home to their parents, who are, for the summer.

It has been just over ten months since the brother and sister pair moved into our home, our family, our hearts. Even after all that time, I struggle to ‘name’ our relationship.

Hubby and I house them, feed them, drive them here and there. We assist them with homework, with filling out forms, and with understanding life. We sign permission forms and make appointments. We assign chores to them, and speak to them in our firm parent voices. We applaud their successes, we hug them and hear their tales of woe. We attend their school events and sports games. We host their friends, and take them shopping.

But, we are not their parents.

We are a homestay family.

I really struggle to know what our relationship should be called. I really struggle to know how to be a parenting, non-parent.

As a woman who is a mom, I believe they need a daily mom to care for them. I do not just mean to care for their basic physical needs, like food, and shelter. I mean to care for their hearts, their souls and their minds. I believe they need a middle aged woman to say good morning to them, to drive them to school, to scold them when they take too long to get ready in the morning, to ask how their English test was, to watch them play basketball, and drive them to the mall (and shake in my boots as they enter the mall without an adult with them). I believe they need someone to sit on the sofa and watch a movie with, and one to applaud their piano playing, and their math award, and their homemade sushi, and someone to tell them to clean their room. I believe they need a pat on the back, that unimpressed mother ‘look’, and someone to pray with when life just sucks.

Today, as my two children, who are not, head across the world to their mother, who is, I will bid them adieu. In french, a dieu, meaning ‘to God’, commonly translated, I command you to God.

It is in that word, adieu, that I get an understanding of parenting that goes far beyond just my role as a homestay mom. In that one word, I am reminded that whoever God places in our care, whether they be our biological, adopted or ‘borrowed’ children, we are required, and our children benefit most from our giving them back to God.

And, whatever I am to them, and they to me, today my mother heart will bid them a dieu.


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It has now been over two months since our family grew by two. In that time we have grown to adore this brother and sister by another mother.

They are high school students, from China, who are here (in Canada) to learn Canadian culture and the English language. They are a brother and sister, with parents who live in China, and who love them.

There are many adjustments for them, in entering and living daily life in such a different culture.

They need to adjust to the language, which they came with a good foundation of. Even still, they are now using a language which is no longer tonal (where a word might have a very different meaning, depending on what syllable is emphasized). They are so tired after a day of school, where the subject may not be unfamiliar to them, but have to actively listen to the language drains their energies.

They need to adjust to our food. The first purchase I made, once they arrived, was a rice cooker, as I felt they needed that staple, but we do eat so differently. They might have rice for every meal, as well as soup or a broth, and then the rest of the meal. We might have a casserole. They have been very gracious, and they do both seem to have a sweet tooth. Fortunately the young man who is with us loves to cook, so, on weekends, he frequently makes ‘their’ soup … comfort food!

They need to adjust to the aesthetics in their surroundings. Our architecture, our landscaping, our decor, our art, our clothing, our hair, our make-up, our school supplies and so on, and so on. Our part of the world looks so different. For that matter we look so different! They now look like minorities, and that has to add to all the other adjustments.

The other night was Halloween, and our kids were prepping and preparing for their pursuit of loot. The younger of our Chinese kids was convinced to join them. As they were dressing her up, she was very hesitant, and not at all happy with the idea of wearing a costume in public. My two youngest (and their friends) were literally pulling her out the door!

About an hour later they returned, pillow cases full of sugary sweetness. It was as though I was seeing our daughter from another mother fresh for the first time.

I think, after two months, she has discovered an area of adjustment that she likes … alot, and I think it might just be the gateway to her being won over to our North American ways, through a pillowcase of candy.

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