May 9, 2017

Sometime this time last year…

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?

Posted by:    |    8 Comment
  1. I couldn’t imagine my kids speaking a language I didn’t understand. Fortunately, when we moved countries the one we moved to also spoke English. Had we moved to Montreal, Canada instead, they would be speaking French and I wouldn’t have a clue what was being said. Kids pick up new languages so easily!

    • It’s crazy to have your own kids speaking a language you don’t understand! Which mother in the right mind would? I did not see this coming at all – I took it for granted they both have always been comfortable in English! Honestly, I did not expect this to happen and we are changing the rules at home though I’m still trying to pick up Dutch from them.
      You must admit though, French is a cool language!

  2. Oh, I know you’ll see it eventually, but I nominated you last night for a Liebster!

    • I saw! Thank you! Will be scheduling that in soon. Man..24 hours in a day is just not enough!!!

  3. Oh my goodness – I didn’t realize this was the situation for you! I would be frustrated and feeling left out, too. Being young, they don’t realize how life is in your shoes and through your ears. I can’t believe they became fluent so fast! I’m jealous, too. Speaking Dutch well is good for now, but I hope their English is strong, too. Keep reminding them to speak English … can you make it household rule? As in, make Dutch verboten or else they get disciplined? That may be strong … but I suppose if you have an English-speaking household, then …..
    Good luck.. :-/
    My only experience living in a non-English place is college in Montreal – and I did NOT pick up fluent French!!

    • It is a little bit of an annoying situation. It’s hard to restrict or completely forbid them to speak as it is also advantageous for me to learn. It’s just that I’m not quick enough to pick up…so in that sense, I’m jealous too! LOL Still, we have to try harder to get them to speak English when the four of us are together and it’s getting better. I’m gutted that they did not pick up my mother tongue (my fault on this one as I don’t speak it enough)
      What’s your native language, KAtherine? How many languages do you speak? French is also a hard language to pick up! It;s a beautiful language though. 🙂

  4. Yes, kids’ brain is like a sponge – they easily pick up on a new language. When we moved to Germany, I was helping my, then 6-yo daughter with the basics as I learned German in school. But she quickly got to be fluent with no accent and left me behind, lol. But we only spoke German. Then, when we moved to the States (she was 12) and started learning English, we spoke our own language – a mash-up of all three languages. My grocery list, for example, had items listed in whatever language I could think of its name first. Slowly, we dropped German and communicate now in English, except when we don’t want people to know what we’re saying – then we speak Bosnian, but her grammar is very funny and her vocabulary is on a six-year-old’s level. But, being the only child, she didn’t have anyone else to chat with in the house but me, so there was never frustrations like you’re experiencing.
    P.S. I’m in a mood for writing long notes today, lol

    • I’d like some of your mood, Jas! Sorry for my delayed response.

      It’s true that kids brain is like a sponge. I’m envious as my brain don’t work as fast anymore. It’s amazing that you managed to speak only German with her. German is also a tough language, no? I don’t think it’s similar to Bosnian in any way! It’s cool though that you have a mismash of languages for grocery list – no one could figure out your grocery codes. I hope you’ll keep the Bosnian language alive! x.


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