Funny Things Third Culture Kids Say

Kids say the darndest things. Parents make the darndest lists out of them. Writers published the darndest lists of the darndest things those kids say. Sorry.

Some of these are from my own Third Culture Kids, some are from others I know. I want to say before quoting them that I love these kids. I love hearing their stories (like about when the crocodile ate the pet dog) and asking them questions (like what they think of their parent’s career choice) and hearing their unique perspectives on global issues (like that slums aren’t scary places to be defined only by poverty, they are specific places with names where their friends live). I’m not poking fun, just having fun.

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Here goes…

After we announced we were moving to east Africa people started telling my toddlers about the animals they would see. Everyone talked ad nauseum about elephants and giraffes and zebras and lions. By the time we landed in Kenya, the kids had heard this so many times that our son looked at the airport baggage claim and said, “This is the wrong Africa. There aren’t any elephants.”

“When two moms who speak the same language get together, they never stop talking.”

From the pediatrician to my eight-year old: “What is different between Minnesota and Djibouti?” Lucy: “Well, they’re pretty much the same.”

Lucy, who was born in Djibouti, to a group of African American women at a cooking bazaar, when she saw their sign for African American Food, “African American, like me!”

One TCK to another TCK at a bus stop in America, the first time they meet, the first question they ask each other: “How do you fly?”

While in the US: “Target is the best store in the world!”

When talking about American food problems, expatriate mom says to her third culture kids, “You know, like Twinkies.” The TCKs respond in unison, “What’s a Twinkie?”

When a neighbor in the United States starts mowing his lawn and the sound floats over the wooden fence a TCK said, “Oh, the power is off. The generator just turned on.” Upon seeing the man mowing his lawn, the TCK said, “Why is he vacuuming his grass?”

Deep realization after a few months in the US by a life-long TCK: “I just realized some of my friends here have never moved in their whole life!”

When President Obama is elected and people react emotionally because he is the first black American president, TCK raised in Africa to parents, “Aren’t all presidents black? And isn’t he kind of skinny to be a good president?”

When the teacher asks on the first day of school, where are you from, TCK responds with, “I was born in Djibouti, my family is American, but I just flew here from Kenya where my brother and sister live.” The teacher asked parent (me, if you couldn’t tell) the next day, “Um, where are you guys from? I couldn’t figure it out.”

TCK, thinking about grandparents far away, “Sometimes I feel like my heart lives in two pieces.”

TCK when asked where is home, “Home is the place you miss the most when you aren’t there.”

Expat mom to TCK daughter at a Starbucks inside an airport, when asked to pay for coffee and isn’t sure which currency to use, “What country are we in again?” TCK shrugs. “The airport.”

There are endless delightful insights and funny-isms our kids say, their way of looking at the world and their experiences never ceases to amaze me.

Your turn, any funnies or insights you’d like to share?

*image by Caroline Gutman via Unsplash

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Rachel Pieh Jones

Rachel writes about life at the crossroads of faith and culture. Her work is influenced by living as a foreigner in the Horn of Africa, raising three Third Culture Kids, and adventurous exploration of the natural world. She has been published in the New York Times, Runners World, the Big Roundtable, and more. Check out her latest book, Stronger than Death: Get all her stories and updates in the Stories from the Horn newsletter

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