It occurred to me that sometime this time last year, we got busy. Seriously busy as we began counting down the days before our big move from Bangkok to the Netherlands.
Sometime this time last year, we had less than 10 sleeps left. We were stressing out with all the packing we had to do and did not really want to do. It did not feel real…not until right up to the moment when the brown boxes came.
And that was the when the feeling that we were moving countries sunk in. Wow! I still remember that feeling and looking at the photo brought back memories of the massive apartment we lived in…
…and the thought that we had domestic help to lighten the burden of our household chores
…and that I could get a cheap foot massage and a mani-pedi almost on a whim
…and that we did not have a 2 hour commute to work
…and that despite the crazy work hours I put in, I had a very fulfilling career with supportive bosses and colleagues all around
…and that the kids could not string a single sentence in fluent Dutch.
Almost a year on and we still have some of those brown boxes. Still unpacked, sealed up and tucked neatly in the attic, ready to move along whenever we are ready to.
But at this point in time, we are almost settled-in. No domestic help, no cheap foot massage and mani-pedi on a whim, no 10-minutes walk away to the office or a walk away from modern civilisation and no work satisfaction to speak of.
My Dutch is still crap.
Gosh! Where did all that time go?!
By now, the kids are writing, reading and stringing paragraphs in fluent Dutch. They are both so fluent that they are more comfortable speaking in Dutch and almost forgetting their English. In fact, they spoke the language fluently within only a few months of us moving to this country.
These days, the kids speak to each other exclusively in Dutch. It’s been hard to keep up with them. So much so that I feel very left-out from their innocent conversations. To think that they were brought up with mostly English since they were in my tummy!
It’s even beginning to annoy me that I can’t understand most of the things they say and they get frustrated with me when they have to repeat what they said in Dutch and translated it back to me in English.
We now have to keep reminding them to speak English when we are together as a family. And when they do speak English, it would be a literal back translation using Dutch grammar. It makes English sounds funny. Suddenly Dutch is now their first language.
Them speaking Dutch all the time worries me for a different reason as well. But that’s a story for another time.
What about you? If you have moved to a non-English speaking country, did English take a back-seat with your kids? How did you handle it?