Expats and Homesickness
Could it be? Am I experiencing that long forgotten pang I once new as homesickness? Do I really miss North America in all her big box store, freezing cold winter, fast food glory?
Ummm, yeah. And it's kind of been brought on by dealings with doctors.
After a recent bout of culture shock (ongoing, btw. Almost had a rage attack this morning when 17 people barrelled into an elevator before I had a chance to exit), I'm actually feeling like blowing this Asian popsicle stand and heading back to North America for a big helping of lake swimming with a side of Forsty Waffle Cone, and Target shopping.
I took Stella for a well child visit the other week (and despite enduring two shots, this little cucumber shed zero tears). The doctor visit was fine. She's healthy. NBD. But it was decidedly Asian ( mean, we live in Aisa, duh), but that puts it at odds with my Western overachieving, super involved, gold star glitter A+ parenting ethos.
You see, the normative condition over here is for Doctors to be the boss. You bring your kid, the doctor checks things out and then tells you what's up. The parent's role is to be a passive recipient of very little information. "You're kid's healthy. She's fine. The End." Or, "Your kid's sick. Take this medicine. And this one. And also this one. THank you. Good bye."
This model clashes entirely with my desire to be The Most Informed, The Most Aware, The Best Question Asker and Advocate for My Child's Health Ever Ever Ever.
After Stella's well-child check up, I finally got a referral for a physiotherapist. I wanted support for an ongoing issue with torticollis (really NBD, but my precious glittery snowflake, so Total BIG DEAL) that was diagnosed in North America (surprise!) but for which I could not get any support here in Asia. We trundled off to the hospital, hopeful that we'd address the torticollis and get a general evaluation of her physical abilities. I would get information! and knowledge! a prognosis! a detailed plan! I did not get these things.
It should surprise no one, that what we got instead was slightly modified version of "you're kid's healthy. She's fine. Do these stretches. The end."
At the end of the day, she IS fine. In the grand scheme of health problems a child can face, torticollis is really not some thing to worry about. But still. I wanted my Asian doctor to be a North American.
When I visit the doctor in North America, my experience has been entirely different. The paediatrician is totally indulgent of my need to explore the minutia of my child's sleep patterns, the intricacies of her diet, my concerns about developmental issues. I leave a well-child appointment after a thorough discussion of her milestones, growth, behaviour and general wellness reassured and informed. The doctor plays into my notion that my child is a precious glittering snowflake of individuality. I leave an appointment in North America knowing where my child sits in relation to other children, how she's developing, and what I might need to keep an eye on. I leave an appointment here in Asia with the vague notion that I've totally annoyed the doctor, but that at least my kid's fine. She's healthy. The end.
Which isn't to say that the Asian model is wrong, ineffective, or inferior to the North American model. It's just different. And I like the North American model better.
This minor and totally insignificant complaint, I think, gets to the heart of expatdom, homesickness and culture shock: it's the conflicting desire to have both the adventure and exoticism of living abroad, along with the childish, foot stamping, temper tantruming need to have things be just as they are at home. We, as expats, know that we're not immigrants. We're not here forever. We want the benefits of our foster country, but we don't want to abandon our long-held value systems. You see, I want the sun and banana leaves of South East Asia, but at the same time I want North American healthcare. (Also, please North American traffic. And elevator etiquette. And Forsty waffle cones.)
So anyway, I think I'll I go and cry some bitter homesick tears, because I want everything to be like it is at home! Wah!!!