Monthly Archives: October 2015

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To be proud

October 22, 2015
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Whilst becoming a “proud parent” is said to happen at the birth of one’s child, I was thinking of the things that make me really proud of my little girl. Sure I am proud of the fact that she’s smart: she could count to 20 in two languages before her peers in her class could manage counting in their mother-tongue, proud of the fact she knew her alphabet at 2, and of her inquisitive mind and constant desire to play with numbers, making up sums from everyday things and some not small numbers either, and the fact that she’s so interested in books. However there is one event that happened recently that I am most proud and every time I replay it in my mind it really makes me that kind of proud that feels like you’re glowing.

Since moving to Germany, the culture transition has been hard for Isabella. Here turn-taking in playgrounds and queuing isn’t really a thing. It’s all part of learning social skills and holding your own in the playground, learning how to stand up to others and join in with the other kids in a more rough-and-tumble way. Some would argue that this approach isn’t so great, but there are benefits as sometimes in life you do need to stand up for yourself, push yourself to the forefront and learn how to deal with all sorts of personalities. And so, I have taken the view that it’s important skill-building for a successful life in Germany; admittedly, more difficult when you are thrown into it without any understanding of the language and what the other children are saying. And of course I am also proud of Isabella for taking this on too. But that’s not it.

We were at Oktoberfest waiting for a “turn” on the high swings. Each time it stopped, B and I raced up the steps to grab a swing, and each time we were pushed and shoved out of the way (by parents too might I add) and back down the steps we descended with our disappointed faces. This must’ve happened about 3 or 4 times and I was getting a bit angry myself, though Isabella not so. I thought as a parent I should explain to her what was happening and as I told her that people were pushing us out of the way as that’s what they do here in Germany, and sometimes people aren’t so nice to each other, she simply explained to me “Mummy we want to be nice so we won’t do that,” and then it dawned on me what a beautiful girl I had before me.

Whilst there are skills to be learned in the playground, I am not going to teach my child to be pushy and rude to get what she wants. She may not get everything she wants this way, but she will have a life full of friends and happiness, and all the success that follows.

Three is definitely the age where you really begin to be proud of who your children are becoming as they start to share their own thoughts and show their true selves, rather than imitating the world around. I look forward to finding out so much more about who Isabella is.

It’s Ada Lovelace Day

October 13, 2015
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It’s Ada Lovelace day again today and what I only just realised is that my daughter shares the same birthday as Ada, albeit 194 years apart. Still, I like that fact. It somehow gives me hope for her.

Hope? I hear you wonder – what are you talking about – women are equal to men nowadays. Well, thats not necessarily the case. We all know that around the world the view of women does differ radically, and that in the West we are the lucky ones. But even in the Western world where we expect equality this is not the case and it’s not necessarily men who are being sexist. So many times I hear parents including mothers telling their children what is for boys and what is for girls, reinforcing the gender stereotypes. And the effect? Each year the percentage of females in the technology workforce is declining, yet plenty of women who at school are great mathematicians.

I’m shocked that here in Bavaria women are expected to choose between career and childbirth. Women who go back to work full-time are frowned upon. I really hope by the time Bella is grown up this view is changing and I for one am going to try to teach her she can be and do anything. She already has a good head for numbers.

It’ll be no surprise to most people who know me that I made sure Bella had cars and building blocks, train sets and books on diggers and fire engines all through her life. What’s actually more surprising to me is that apart from her beloved cars – she is also obsessed with her dolls and princesses and has the pinkest room I’ve ever seen (much to my dismay!) But thats not a bad thing either – I said I wanted her to be anything she wants to be – perhaps one day she is a Princess but the next she’s lining up her cars in a traffic jam (thats what growing up near the M25 does). She tells me she wants to be a Doctor (only because she heard bus drivers don’t get paid as well – there’s that numbers head of hers) and I really hope she has the freedom and courage to follow her dream whatever that may be.

You can read about Ada Lovelace here

Oktoberfest 2015

1 year on: HIgh swings or the rollercoaster?

October 4, 2015
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Tomorrow will be our 1st year anniversary of our time here in Germany. It’s been a roller coaster ride so far and talking to other ex-pat mums here that’s how life can be when you don’t speak the language and you spend a lot of time communicating mostly with a 3 year old. But there’s that famous quote I like so much:

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

It’s a quote that I think a lot about because I am the only one that can make my rollercoaster ride more of a High Swing Ride. Tomorrow I’m back to school to start my B1 course of German as a foreign language and I am applying to jobs that I like the sound of. I know it will be hard giving up the time I have with my daughter currently – it’s such a luxury to be able to pick her up and take her swimming or watch her at her Bavarian dancing class – but as well as the financial benefit working will provide for our family there is the sanity of my mind and also the positive role model that I want to be for my daughter. I’m told that here in Bavaria a lot of mums don’t ever go back to work – I guess its hard when the school day finishes at lunchtime at most schools here – but if we want to stay here then it’s something I must do.

And that’s the million dollar question – do we want to stay here in Germany? One year in and my answer would be a resounding YES. I loved my life in Hertfordshire, and most certainly believed it was a great place to raise my child. However, now we are here I love the beauty of this country – the wide open spaces, the forests, the mountains and the lakes. I love that the children don their waterproof trousers and jackets and get outdoors whatever the weather. I love that it feels safe. I love that when my husband left his passport, kindle, iPad and wallet in a bag on a train the whole lot was returned to him. There’s lots to love. Yes, there are things that I don’t love. I don’t love that women seem to be expected to stay at home – but then again there is a great sense of community here and always lots going on, something that becomes more difficult when everybody works. I don’t love the fact that communicating can be difficult, but then I need to learn the language in order to make this better. I don’t love that they don’t teach any curriculum at kindergarten, but that’s just a different approach to education, focussing on play until the child is 6. It doesn’t worry me very much as I can supplement this and teach Bella myself how to read and write – something I’d have to do for her English anyway, and as she’s bright I’m not concerned.  My husband is enjoying his job and asks me where else can you take your team 30 minutes away from work on a team bonding day and find yourself at the top of a mountain looking down on beautiful turquoise lakes? He’s right and so it’s up to me to make this work for me and my family.

Step one of our move is complete – Bella is happy at kindergarten, having made friends and is well on the way to speaking German fluently. We all have friends here and are enjoying our new life. Step two will be a new challenge – my re-entering the workforce, the challenge of childcare and becoming fluent in the German language. Bring it on! Prost!

mountains

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