When we decided to move to Germany we were planning to make this a forever move – unless of course things didn’t work out in which case we would “cross that bridge when we come to it” as my mother always said. That is, we were jumping in with all our 6 feet. That’s why we considered a fully German kindergarten for Bella in order that she fully integrates and learns German as fast as she can. That way when it comes to schooling we had both the options of International School where she would be taught in English or the German schools which may stand her in better stead for a German university. After all, she will have lived most of her life here and want to stay here forever.
We went to see an International Pre-school locally too which was great. The children were encouraged to speak English and in many ways it seemed just like a very much smaller version of the nursery Bella attended at home. In fact, she was so comfortable she went off to play with the children immediately and didn’t want to leave. It was a hard decision for us, as sending her here would have been the easiest thing all round. In the long run though, with 2 non-German speaking parents, I’m not sure it would have helped her integration. Her English was already more advanced than the other children who were mostly English as a 2nd language and just learning colours, etc. so we didn’t feel that it would have helped her English either.
And so a couple of weeks ago Bella started her German kindergarten. Everyone says how easy children adjust – especially at that age – but I don’t think they realise quite how stressful it is for them too. Yes, I’m absolutely sure we chose the right kindergarten and that Bella will adjust to her new German life – but this will take time. Right now Bella is lost without being able to talk to the other children yet she is a child who seeks company and yearns to communicate with others. She’s lonely, desperate to play with the others and get involved. This means she does try to play with the other children and on the outside she looks like she’s adjusting well, but in her head there is a lot going on. For us, we have moved country – for Bella her whole world has been replaced by a new one, just as she was making sense of the old one. As a parent this makes me sad – how do you explain to a 3 year old that this will be a good thing for her future when all she cares about is NOW. At a time when she’s also exerting her independence it’s hard for a mum to watch and allow space for the child to work things out too. Of course all I can do is be here for her and help her in her difficult journey –her new life. Thinking about that makes me realise that actually that’s what being a Mum is all about. That’s what my mum (still) does for me – sometimes when you feel helpless its just about being there.