A while ago I was asked to write a piece about ‘our Swiss neighbourhood’ for an online Swiss parenting journal. The deadline seemed ages away, so I agreed and waited for inspiration to strike. When the time came to write it though, we had recently moved and it felt as if I was in the midst of living two different versions of my life.
It’s now several months since I wrote the piece, and the sense of bewilderment that comes through is now fading. My love of my Swiss neighbourhood however, remains the same. Here’s what I wrote for Mothering Matters: Living a local life.
The summer holidays are almost at an end. The days are still warm, but the evening light is fading that little bit earlier. We are gearing up to a new school year, trying to remember times tables and locating schoolbags.
The kids started their new schools before the long holidays, a taster before a proper break, we said, justifying starting them in a new system on some random Thursday.
We assume kids are adaptable, but I wonder at which point that changes. Our first move as a family, to Australia, seemed so much simpler with a baby and a toddler. Now we have three small people travelling with us, each with their own unique personalities, two who seem fine with change and one who prefers the familiar.
My big girl recently visited her Swiss friend in our old village. It was interesting to gain a ten year olds perspective on the differences between the places, now that she has been living in London long enough that she is no longer just a visitor. London was busier she noted, well that wasn’t so much of a surprise. She also mentioned how people in Switzerland seem more friendly and greet each other on the street. I’d forgotten the frequent sound of Grüezi mitenand as we walked along, and quickly adapted to the London way of avoiding eye contact.
Sometimes I’ll overhear their conversations with each other, where do you like best, Sydney or Zurich? They are still trying to figure out where they belong in the world. They aren’t English kids yet. It’s too soon to tell if London will make it into the mix, but I’m hoping it will charm them in time.