Last May, we went to France. We found a perfect little vacation home for our family of still-three. It had a playhouse, a fenced in pool, a sandbox and a little swing. It was in the country side and it was quiet and we thought to ourselves, “We need more of this.”
A few months later, we learned our friends were moving to Sweden for his job. As expats, you have two kinds of friends: The ones you have while you share status of expats and ones that you will be friends with no matter where the other lives. These were the latter. It made me sad to lose them to Stockholm and I still miss them. A lot. But they had this little house. And they wanted someone to take it over. To pay the costs and “keep it warm” for them while they were away. And we saw our chance. Our chance to fulfill our need for more of what we had in France.
So today we went out to the little house in the woods of Brandenburg. We got the tour, got the keys, asked questions while Luisa ran around the yard and Mateo swung on the porch. The house is small, but there is so much space elsewhere. We spend time together when we’re home, but there is something about getting out of your everyday life and routines that really forces you to spend time together. And as Josh reached out for my hand while I balanced Mateo on my hip and Luisa swung a stick at some bushes, that’s what we look forward to the most. A summer of weekends out of the everyday, hanging out with our little family.
In February, C., Luisa’s childcare provider said “I think Luisa needs more.”
She had been in this program for almost a year. It was two days a week, five hours a day. It was a great way to get her some serious play time with other kids and to give me some time to get things done. She was there the morning I went into labour with Mateo. She continued going after she become a big sister, but that September, the other kids her age went into “Kitas” (German preschools/daycares/kindergarten). She became the oldest by nine months. And she still loved it, but by February, when C. said “I think Luisa needs more”, I felt it too.
Luisa needed more.
And we were in luck. Just down the road a new Kita was opening, which meant we had a good chance of getting in. Kitas are organised. They like to take kids in a wide range of ages and there was a good shot of getting a spot for our born-in-2010 daughter. Kids generally start Kitas the September after their first birthday. Mothers usually take (paid) parental leave for the first year, but can stay on leave for up to two more (unpaid) years with job protection. Luisa didn’t go into Kita last September. Mateo was born and we thought it was too much change. Five-days-a-week kindergarten plus a baby brother. We kept her where she was. But it meant that a spot for a 2010 girl would be harder to come by, until we heard about a new Kita opening up.
In March, we got the note that Luisa was being offered a spot. We took it. But we hadn’t met any of the people involved or even seen the finished space. It was all being renovated still. The team still being put together, but I still felt it was right. I liked the plans for the Kita. It’s focus is on learning through nature and science.
She started April 2.
The first day, I stayed with her there. She hardly noticed my presence. The second day, I stayed an hour, then left for 20 minutes. When I came back, I said: “Time to go home!”. She said “Nein!”, so I left for another hour and then picked her up. The third day, I brought her in the morning, said good bye and sat in a nearby cafe for three hours and then picked her up. The fourth day, Josh dropped her off and I picked her up at noon.
And that was our routine until yesterday, when Josh dropped her off and I picked her up at 3, after the children had all napped there. I waited in a nearby park from 12 onwards, in case a phone call came saying “Luisa wants to come home”.
But that phone call didn’t come. And I don’t know how I feel about it. Mostly good. I’m proud that she’s so secure and confident that she can go out in the world, have a full day of playing and learning. She’s picked up so many words since starting Kita. She finally asks for “Wasser” (water) instead of just pointing to a cup and going “ts-ahhhh”. She talks about the friends she has there. She tells me that Leni has glasses. And that Moritz broke a spoon. I’m proud that she’s happy to see me at the end of the day, but I’m also a little sad that she doesn’t need me more. That she is ok spending six-ish hours without me. That I’m not missed.
And there’s the shift.
But at least I’m greeted with a grin when I pick her up.
It’s a new routine, a new dynamic. Mateo is going to benefit just as much as Luisa has from this new day-to-day. And we all have to adjust, but I might have the most difficult adjustment to make.
Apparently, because his body has a tendency to curve to the left, he has a “blockage” of some sort that needs working out, so off to the physiotherapist we go tomorrow.
This is “Typisch Deutsch”.
Yes. We’re talking about my three month old. Needing physiotherapy.