I have nothing but absolute admiration for the Dutch people we have encountered since living here. In the past (almost) three months I have been impressed with every single person that I have met from the grocery delivery guy to the city worker raking leaves. Nowhere have I seen the glazed, deer in headlights look from someone in my way while out shopping. Not a single person has bogged me down with their ineptitude or bad attitude. If anything, wherever I go I am the closest thing to a disaster or an annoyance. The Dutch are infuriatingly efficient, polite and dare I say most perfect group of people I have ever met as a whole.
The issue here, of course- is dragging my children into the mix. Sure I am ok with not being seen as perfect or even well put together- heck, that’s the story of my life. What makes me feel weird is that my children are looked upon quite frequently with shock and amazement. It’s not the same as that childless person at Target giving you the evil eye because your kid is demanding M&Ms at the checkout… it’s a feeling I truly feel similar to disbelief. Like more ’WHAT ON EARTH?!!’ than‘OMG lady. Control your kids’.
They’re boys. They are YOUNG boys at that- and although we work very hard on manners, inside voices & etc we are no match for the overall reserve of these Dutch children. I haven’t seen any sort of unbecoming behavior from any of these kids at school, the store or just walking around town. Where we have had our typical quota of meltdowns per week- I try time and time again to figure out what the heck these Dutch people are doing to have such well-behaved children!
Just a snippet from daily life. Pretty standard, no? I mean- this to me seems pretty normal!
You think I’m exaggerating how kids behave here. At first I sort of thought I was imagining things- like why were the kids never loud, boisterous, or getting a reprimand from anyone? Truth is- their behavior just didn’t grant one. No one was freaking out at the market except my Linc for not being able to push the kid cart (–Sidenote- that tantrum was EPIC and I was so embarrassed that day I can’t believe I even go back to that store-).
I mentioned to my friend (who is married to a local and from Michigan herself) my ponderings. She assured me that I was not imagining things- kids here really were just more reserved. I told her how our first few weeks at school one of the teachers would tell me every.single.day that my boys were the only ones who wouldn’t sit and listen at story time.
“They just don’t want to listen when we are in the group. They wander around and want to play” she said. At first I thought she was kidding because what 2 and 3 year olds do you know quietly sit still for a complete story time? I’ve been to the Barnes and Noble story time. My kids aren’t freaks.
To be honest, I saw nothing surprising or wrong here until I realized that NO ONE ELSE did this. B went to a montessouri-type school for a year or so before we came here. They were encouraged to flit about the room and engage in different areas. Child/student led. Of course they have to move around the room. Was he taking his previous learning habits to his new school? If so what was the excuse of his brothers? Were they just following his example?
I don’t get it other than chalking it up to cultural difference. I like it here enough to not feel like we are unwelcome or being ‘shamed’ by our, eh, tendency to be a little on the ‘loud’ side. But it’s strange. Kind of like we’re in that dream where everyone is dressed but you or everyone is going somewhere in a hurry and you have no idea what you’re missing.
Just part of the learning process I’m sure, but I still want to know their secret.
How do you think they do it? Have any insight to share?