Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Being a mom and a world citizen

I For the past seven years, I have been a "world citizen" and lived in three different countries: Singapore, Germany and US. Before that, I spent a year in Belgium and 20 something years in my home country, Indonesia.

In three of those countries, I was a Mom. The thing about living in a country and trying to understand its culture is that, you spontaneously copy a lot of their routine or their habits. Including habits in raising children and the family. Here are some of the habits that I noticed during my time as an "International Citizen" of the world, or so I say ;)

-Kids are treated like precious artifacts in Indonesia. Babies are usually carried in front with a special cloth called "jarik" and letting a baby cried for long time is a big No-No.

-In Singapore, I found that people are not really fond of babies. Whenever I took my baby out in public transport in stroller, no one ever bother to give space for us or to look into the stroller, let alone to comment on "how cute she/he is." In Germany, the first morning we went out, an old couple saw Rania in her stroller and commented on how cute she was and how big her eyes were. I received comments similar to this for the two and half years while we were there.

-I found Germans kids to be very active and fearless. The first time Rania went to the playground in Germany, she was shocked for a minute, she was two at the time and all she tried was the swing. While toddler smaller than her tried the monkey bar, climbed the spider web and the see-saw. Mothers would just sit and let their toddlers play. I freaked out on the idea of letting Rania played alone.

-Health and hygiene is a big thing in Singapore. Every morning the teacher would check the children's hands for HFMD (Hand Foot Mouth Disease) and head lice. Parents had to wash their hands of the children before coming into class.

-On the contrary, on the first day of kindergarten in Germany, Rania hardly eat her lunch: no hand wash, all they did was dipped the hands into soapy water and then towel dry.

-The definition of kid's lunch differs between countries. In Indonesia, I always had my lunch at home: rice, protein and a bowl of veggies. In Germany and here in US, kids have lunch at school. I was surprised to see the cafeteria menu in Rania's school and the 'Lunchables' pack they have here in supermarket, in my days those kind of foods I will consider as snacks.

-During my school days in Indonesia, on conference day (which usually happen in report card day) teacher never beat around the bush and always brought up the negative aspect first. While here in the US, teacher always brought up the positive aspects, and sometimes only positive aspects of the child. Nothing negative would be mentioned and even if it is, it would be sandwiched so comfortably between all the positive comments. I could not count anymore how many times Rania's teachers have commented that they were so proud of her during the school years.

This list can go on and on, but I think I have to stop here for now. I shall continue to learn the fascinating cultures of raising a kid abroad and put them on this list J

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