Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Parents, kids... and the usual off-track ramblings

Tatsuya is a Japanese colleague who has joined the lab recently. He has a 3-4 year old daughter who's started kindergarten since early September. But she isn't quite enjoying it and has been crying every morning before going to kindergarten. Tatsuya thinks this is because she doesn't speak any German yet (neither do Tatsuya and his wife) and so can't communicate, make friends and play with the other toddlers. He had been telling me that if she continues disliking it, they see if they could move her to the kindergarten opposite the institute so what he can visit her once in a while.

I desisted from saying anything to Tatsuya, but I think children learn a new language incredibly fast. I know that from my own experience as a kid. When we moved to Bhubaneswar, I was 4.5 years and my brother 3 years. We were fluent in Oriya in a few months... so fluent that other local people used to be surprised to learn that our mother tongue was not Oriya. On the other hand my parents took a long time to learn Oriya. My father had lived in Bhubaneswar before he got married, so he'd had a longer time to learn, but I doubt my mother ever really became completely fluent even by the time we moved back from Bhubaneswar 3.5 years later. However, my brother and I forgot the language within six months of moving from there, while both my parents would be able to hold proper conversations in Oriya even now. For the first time since leaving Bhubaneswar in 1982, I visited Orissa (Bhubaneswar and Konark) again during my India-visit in Jan-Feb 2003 (the time I came out to my parents). I could understand a bit, but then that could be because the language is a bit similar to Bengali, but I couldn't speak much of it. As an adult I know I am bad at languages... mein Deutsch ist noch schlecht (my German is still terrible), although I find myself picking up bits and pieces of quite a few languages.
Children also make friends very fast, very likely because of the lack of inhibitions. Again I can quote from my own experiences as a kid.

Anyways, to get back to Tatsuya's story. Last friday when I asked, he said that his other Japanese friends in Vienna have told him that crying before going to kindergarten is quite common, and happened to all their kids. But as I'd have thought, it doesn't last for long. His wife had gone to the kindergarten and stayed the whole time on Friday, on Monday (yesterday) only for an hour or two and not at all today.
That seems to be working, and although she was she was not very happy about going to the kindergarten, she didn't cry.

One of Tatsuya's comments on this matter really struck me, and is the main reason for this posting. He said he is no longer worried about his daughter going to the kindergarten, he knows very well that she'll be fine. But what he can't bear to see is her being unhappy and crying.

Parenthood is so beautiful.
Would there be anything more tender than this state?


guy said...

I can certainly identify with your colleague's feelings. We, too, struggle with Emma's crying or not wanting to go to or participate in various classes and activities (this week it was swimming, soccer and daycare)and it's painful sometimes.
I just now finally found and read your post/response back to my post on Trey's blog, sorry I didn't see it earlier! Thanks.
As for paths crossing, we hope to finally return to Europe next May for an EMBL friend's wedding in Germany, so are thinking about where else to visit while there. We've never really been to Vienna (other than passing through en route to Budapest), so that's a good possibility. Perhaps you could email us at guy@berryessa.org and we could discuss that possibility? :) Vielen Dank!

the mad momma said...

got here via Broom's link on Closet Confessions. As a mother of two children, one who is a 2 and a half year old, i have to admit that it broke my heart to see other kids crying in kindergarten. i waited for my son to cry so that i could sweep him up and bring him home. he didnt. he loves every day. and cries to go to playschool. i dont know if i'd have let him go if he cried more than one day... bleeding heart that i am :)

A.S. said...

@ the mad momma: thanks for visiting and leaving your comments. Apparently me and my brother never cried either.
I can only imagine the tenderness and protective feelings one has for one's children. If you think about it, these feelings are very biological have arisen as a part of evolution of "parental care" to make sure that we take care of our children. That is fascinating.