Friday, June 7, 2013

Will I ever be on the list?



My baby on the bus looking so sad

Throughout life there are so many lists we want to be included on. 

I can remember in kindergarten wanting to be on the “Little Helpers” list and then the Honor Roll list in grade school. 

Before I knew it, I wanted to be on the list to graduate high school and then the list to make it into journalism school. 

Once I was old enough, I wanted to be on the lists at the doors of my favourite clubs or parties.

And luckily enough I was included on all of these lists. And I guess for almost 40 years I have taken this for granted, until today. Today I wasn’t on the list.

You see, today was my son’s school trip to Sprookjeswonderland and Baby Daddy had signed me up weeks ago to go as a chaperone. Matter of fact, I recall him saying to me on the phone, “Great babes, you are at the top of the list.” At the time I didn’t realize the significance of this statement.

All week Luca and I had been talking about going on this trip together. I took a day off from my work and woke up extra early to pack our picnic lunches. We sang on the way to school and talked about all the things we would see today.

We bounced into the classroom and it was like a beehive buzzing with excitement. Luca was bragging to all of his friends, “My mama is going with us”.  Then it was the time all the kids had been waiting for, time to get in the groups with chaperones. The teacher began passing out all the group information papers to the chaperoning parents. She finally came to the bottom of the stack and every parent in the room got a paper, but me. I was left standing there without a group.

I asked the teacher why I wasn’t included and that was when she told me “I wasn’t on the list.” Well actually I was on the list she said, but I was number seven and they only needed six parents. Why hadn’t she told me earlier?

I choked back the tears. I knew right away it wasn’t the truth. I knew why I wasn’t on the list and I knew it deep inside for a very long time. I wasn’t like the other parents. And the thing that broke my heart was that I knew I would never be.

She left me standing there with a little boy looking up at me with eyes begging me not to say the words. But I had to, there was no other choice.

“Luca sweety, mama can’t go this time, but the good thing is now I have time to go buy you a dinosaur.” I didn’t know what else to say and yes I tried to buy away his disappointment.

He immediately began sobbing, like he does when he scrapes his knee or falls off his bike. He was in pain. I was in pain. We were in a room full of kids and parents and there was no where to hide. I was the outcast and my son was suffering the consequences.

I hugged him tight and tried to get myself together. By this point, several of his classmates were surrounding him asking what was wrong with Luca? All I could say was Luca was verdrietig. He was sad.

I am not even sure what I said to him after that. I just smiled and held him trying to convince him he was going to have the time of his life without mommy. By the time we walked to the bus, the tears had dried up and I was able to convince him to get on the bus.

I followed his little shadow to end of the bus and I could see his sadness through the tinted window. I just had to hold it together for a few more minutes until the bus was just a silhouette down the street.

And I did. I walked back to my bike feeling like a failure as a mother. I failed in trying to fit in, learning the language, and being a part of my children’s culture. I didn’t make the list this time and I doubted if I would.

Being a mother is not easy, but being a mother in a place where you will never be accepted adds another dimension of insecurity and self doubt. No one could imagine the beating that was going on inside of my head after I heard the news. 

When I woke up this morning, I was a confident, strong mother and now I was this weak, irresponsible mother who couldn't be trusted with a small group of 4 year-olds. Two years of sitting in a classroom trying to learn everything I could about the culture and language washed down the drain. I knew nothing.

Of course, I will get over it and my tears will be replaced with smiles when I pick my little guy up from the bus this afternoon. However, I will spend half of the day worrying about him and the other half convincing myself I am a good mother and it doesn’t matter if I fit in.

What does matter is that I have two beautiful souls that I call my children and no matter what, I will always be on the top of their lists. Even though I  won't always be on their most popular lists,  I will know my kids love and accept me for who I am...a mother who will never be perfect but one who loves them with all her heart, just me.

26 comments:

  1. So sorry darling...I wish baby daddy can go and tell them off...I hate segregation of every form.

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    1. Thanks Fred, he will give her an ear full at our end of year meeting next week. He was as angry as I was sad.

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  2. Brought tears to my eyes. Beautifully written. Baby daddy needs to kick some ass!

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    1. Thanks so much Jo for your support and encouragement this morning. You were right, I def got a blogpost out o fthe school trip, just not the one I wanted.

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  3. TINA YOU ARE THE BEST MOTHER INTHE WORLD BECAUSE YOU DIDN'T WANT YOUR SON TO HAVE PAIN AT THAT MOMENT SO YOU QUIT YOUR OWN PAIN FOR NOT SPOILING HIS ADVENTURE.
    This 'juffie' is the one who should be ashamed of her selfish non-empathic behaviour towards..no not you but towards your son and his friends.
    INJUSTICE..THAT is your pain!!

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    1. Thanks for your kind words and putting it into perspective, you and your wonderful daughter are such a support for me here so far away from home! Thanks!!

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  4. I feel your pain. I just got back from five days in Amsterdam and it was very theraputic. I realized there really are some very mean, bitter, cold, rude, sad, closed people in the Netherlands, AND that is no reflection on me.
    In the past two years, since I left there, anytime I thought of Amsterdam I felt hurt and bitter. Going back for these past five days, I was able to see that a lot of the people really are genuinely mean, but that is not a reflection of you, your worth, value, or even your Dutch skills. It also shouldn't cast a shadow on the truly wonderful things about that country and the few really awesome people that live there. Without a doubt, from a once lived there but now don't perspective, there are more truly cold, mean, rude people in the Netherlands than any other place I have ever lived or visited. But there are also a few genuinely kind and warm people there. And neither of these groups of people have anything to do with who you are or your mothering skills.
    I had to process all of this in my own blog last week. It was healthy, because now I can like the people who I like and I can like the parts of the country I like, I can can realize that those mean people, are truly, genuinely MEAN!

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  5. Wow Camila, you are one of the nicest people I ever met in Amsterdam, I can't imagine anyone being this mean to you. But I guess after what I experienced today anything is possible. The positive side to this is I can process this just like you did and come to the conclusion that its not me, people are just mean. And you are right there are some really nice people here. I learned today I have to appreciate these people. Thanks so much for your insight, it really got me to a thinkin in the right direction!

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  6. NO, NO, NO I do not like this at all!! You are a better person than I. There is no way I would of accepted not being included but I'm sure you handled it the best way possible for your son. If your husband is anything like my Dutch husband I think that teacher should be very scared :)
    xM

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    1. Hi Melissa, yes my husband is going to have a heated discussion with her next week. I had to calm him down, esp since he was the one who signed me up and he remembers that I was at top of list. I was still in tears when I picked him from the trip, but he said he forgot about me once he was there. Thank goodness!

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  7. Dear AM. I read your blog often without leaving any comment but i was really moved to tears about this incident. I was even more touched that you let him go. In my mind i had imagine the tantrum i would throw and walk away with my child but that you let him go, even when he was in tears, was really touching. I feel sure his tears will dry up along the way and he will have fun. Console yourself that you put your child first.Don't let mean people like this make you feel bad about you.

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    1. Thanks so much for your kind words. It was just instinct to react that way, especially since he was holding my hand so tight. He ended up having a good time I think, plus he was greeted getting off the bus from a brand new T-rex dino. Trust me, I am second to a T-rex! : )

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  8. As an American/German mom of a 4 year old boy in Almere I totally feel for you!
    I am terryfied of what you described here, and I'm so sorry you had to go through this. I actually might have been pissed enough to request to come along. Tell them it's their fault for not letting me know, that I had told my son I was coming and wasn't going to break that promise... but then again I might have just stood there, feeling little, trying to make my son believe everything was well.
    I'm sure your son had a good time in the end and learned more about his own resilience, but I sure hope you find a better teacher for next year!
    I would love to know how it went in the end.
    *hugs*

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    1. Hi Sissi, he was fine when he came back, said he forgot about me, but that he did cry for a while. There was one positive thing that came out of this experience. The mothers usually never speak to me, they just kinda of act like I am not there, but yesterday two of the mothers introduced themselves to me and we actually had a conversation. Come to find out, they are both married to English speaking expats. So maybe it won't be so lonely on the schoolplein now. I hope people are more friendly in Almere. Thanks for the hugs, I really needed them. Its gonna take me a while to get over this one.

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  9. My son isn't starting school till after the summer, but we have an awesome international community here in Almere, and it's made life so much easier. I have met a lot of nice dutch people, but it doesn't often translate into meeting again.

    On a side note: one of my best friends here came across as very cold and uninterested the first 2 times we met, later I found out she was just shy.
    I'm sure you'll soon be fighting off the mommies, and otherwise you can take a trip to Almere. ;)
    Good Luck!

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    1. Yay there is hope! Thanks Sissi!!! Otherwise, we will move to Almere! haaa

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  10. I have been in relationship with a nice Dutchie for the past 4 years and as my 20's ending, we re thinking of having kids...you know the rest.
    My life had been almost perfect here in NL. However,I have to admit that after reading your post, I really don't know anymore that I want to have kids here.The smallest things become the most important things and one of those is to be able to contribute to my child's education or activities..
    I really applause you for your self control and doing what was best for your child. I wouldn't have been so rational as you were and would probably made a big scene and changed my kid's school!
    Good luck my dear and I am sure your little guy will turn into such a great guy that one day you will forget about this bad experience.

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    1. Besides, the social outcast thing as an expat, it is a nice place to have kids. Its safe, child friendly and the system really takes good care of the kids. Maybe if you live in a smaller community or very international community it would be different. However, I have friends who live in the burbs who have the same issues. Who knows?? Good luck with your decisions! And yes, my little guy has forgotten already, the baby T-rex I gave him when he arrived back really helped! : )

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  11. Hi Catina,
    I actually read this a while ago, but I still wanted to comment because I just think that it's so mean and unacceptable that this happened. You offered to help - how ungrateful! There are plenty of us non-dutch around, so what if your dutch isn't perfect, you shouldn't be treated with disrespect. In my opinion a juffie who thinks it's ok to emotionally distress one of the kids in her class shouldn't be in charge. It's very unprofessional. I cant see this happening in my daughter's school though, so it's probably not a dutch thing, just very weird. I hope you've had some good mummy-son time since to make up for it.

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    1. Thanks, yes we had great mommy son time after and i learned so much ftom this experience. I have actually met several parents due to this mishap so there is aleays the silver lining : )

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  12. hi Catina sorry about your bad experience in Holland. I am a dutchie living in Australia and the opposite happened to me when my children were in primary school (just arrived) The teachers thought give this woman and my husband the responsibility of looking after a class of 10 year olds on a bus trip to the city 500klms away. We did wonder why us and I found out many years later the town had 2 meetings to trying stop the teachers decisions. ........It happens. Thank you for your story. Dora

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    1. Wow Dora that must have been a nightmare! Its so interesting to hear expat experiences from around the globe, especially when it comes to the schools! Thanks for the support!!

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  13. It must have been horrible to have been so deliberately snubbed but I can assure you the day will come when you will have been asked to help out at school and escort groups on trips so often that you will wish you had a full time job so have a good excuse to say no.

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    1. I hope you are right! Cant wait to be a part of it!!

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  14. I've just discovered your blog today; your writing is so much fun! I've gone through a few of your posts and related to each one in some way. But this one ... ouchhhh! My heart ached for you and your little man. Glad to see that some good has come from it and that you're able to see the silver lining. But what an intense mommy moment it must have been.

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    1. Hello, yes it was an intense mommy moment and I am still effected by it when I think about it. The new school year is about to begin and I am so curious what new adventures for me it will bring. Thanks for reading!!

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