The Complaint Club
When I put my kids in the local schools in Europe, there was one thing looming over me that I loved to complain about...lunch! My Mom used to joke, "I do dinner and breakfast, but I don't do lunch." I grew up hearing this and took on her mantra. I remember my meals at school, the smell of the overfilled cafeteria, the peanut butter finger desserts, giggling with my friends, running to recess, exchanging food, learning to be social. I was just horrified that my kids would not have this experience.
I spent years whining and complaining to family and with friends about having to pick them up, cook for them and drop them back at school. I stood with other foreign mothers in the parking lot complaining at pick up and drop off. We dreamed of a cafeteria. Then one eventually opened in our village. I just about threw a party, but was promptly told, "You can only sign your kids up two days of the week, those are our rules." I threw another little fit. Oh, how I wanted to have the day to myself.
A few years ago we put our two youngest into an international school. Do you know what I miss most about their old school? The lunches at home!!! The crazy thing is I spent all this time fighting against the culture, complaining about it I didn't even realize I was loving it. During the lunch break, we talked, cuddled, worked on homework and had down time. Sometimes the kids invited friends over, and I got to know their friends.
Sometimes you don't realize how good something is until you don't have it. Complaining in a foreign country just becomes second nature...something we do. I hear it all the time and am guilty of hanging out with girlfriends and doing just that. I try not to complain, to embrace the moment and think I have gotten better over all the years but ....I am human and living in a foreign country has its moments both the good and the bad. Just think, the thing you hate the most might just become the thing you'll miss when you leave. Just on a side note...I think the complaint club exists all over the world; it is best to identify it and realize when you are taking part.
—Allison Ochs Social Worker M.S.W. , Coach, Expat, Mother of three, Wife