Thursday, January 09, 2014

Baby M's Identity Crisis

Inside Baby M's blue American passport, it says, "Place of Birth: Switzerland." So things here never shocked her like they did her poor mother, The Frau.

Baby M never had to figure out how to love a Cervelat. Or go through things like Migros Moments. Or smile and nod during a Swiss German conversation without understanding a word—even after years of High German lessons.

In fact, Baby M seemed as Swiss as any Swiss baby. Until she turned two years old and went to celebrate the holidays in the U.S. for a couple of weeks.

From one world back to another
Upon her return, Baby M seems to have registered something. Namely, that she lives in two different worlds.

Poor Baby M. She had a rough start to the New Year. When The Frau took her to Kinderkrippe (Swiss daycare) on Monday after being away from it for almost three weeks, her face registered total shock.

Swiss German shock.

At a time when she had been talking more than ever, she didn’t say a word all day long, according to the teachers. She just sat there and stared at everyone.

The next day was better. By the evening, Baby M was saying Grüezi wohl to random strangers in the elevator and singing during dinner. But Baby M’s initial shock made The Frau realize that raising a third culture kid might have many more challenges in store.

Do you or your kids have trouble adjusting after being away from Switzerland for several weeks?


Irene said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Irene said...

I bumped into a colleague from Morocco, whose son is about to turn 2, and he said exactly the same: his kid did not speak a word in Krippe for the first 2 days after the holidays. They told him in Krippe he was not the only one, they had a couple more kids (French parents, I believe) who reacted the same way.
My baby M (who is also close to 2) didn't seem to notice anything. Maybe he is already screwed up for life, with his 3 identities (Spanish mum, Swedish dad) and 4 languages (Catalan, Swedish, English and Swiss German)

Chantal said...

Hi Irene,

When The Frau inquired further at the Krippe, they also said the other kids with other mother-language tongues besides Swiss German did the same thing. So I guess all of these kids, once they reach a certain age, react similarly. Your Baby M sounds very impressive. Four languages, wow, I can't even imagine how he is processing all of that--but you know he is! Kids are amazing.

Paul said...

That's fascinating. Maybe it is a common thing like others have said! I have a couple of friends/relatives with Anglo-German children, but I've not heard them mention this.

Chantal said...

Paul, The Frau found it somewhat fascinating too. To The Frau, who grew up with only one language, it's fun to watch her daughter learn two–even if it's not 100% easy for her sometimes.

Anonymous said...

I think that the awkward moment will be when Girl M in a few years from now will visit USA and find everything dirty, untidy and will be happy only when is back to Switzerland!

Chantal said...

Girl M and The Frau both!

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