Thursday, 2 December 2010

Letter to my pre-school son

This weekend we took another trip to Copenhagen to find a place to live and to visit what I hope will be your new nursery. Whilst we dragged you from airport to airport, from house to house and along the snowy streets, you hardly complained but instead found excitement in the novelty of it all; new buses, different taxis - the points of reference that provided you with some measure of familiarity. Seeing you bravely take it all in made me proud and your father and I have gone to great lengths to explain to you that we are moving to a new house and a new country, 'far far away'. You seem to understand and to embrace the adventure. But the excitement on your face when we finally came back to London and you went back to your room to play with your toys told a different story: it was all okay because it had only been temporary. We didn't stay in Copenhagen this time, we came home. Did it confuse you to take you on a reconnaissance trip?

Today it was back to business as usual; nursery and back to your 'best friends', the other little 3 year old boys whose toys you share and fight over and whose worlds are so intensely entwined with your own.

What are we doing to your world to take you away from all this familiarity? From this 'social network' that you have built up for yourself at such a tender age and with such fragile social skills? Everyone we speak to says that the timing is perfect and its best to relocate abroad with a young family when the children are pre-school. Whilst you're still a pre-schooler, there is no formal 'education' to be interfered with and you don't have to be taken out of 'the system' and to fit into another with all the challenges that that can bring.

I know in my heart of hearts that three years living abroad will enrich your life and give you an education that doesn't come from reading books or listening to someone tell you about far away places.

It might feel as though we are plunging you into the unknown without any regard for what is important to you. Believe me when I say that this is not so. We are doing this for you too. You are robust and you will find friends in new places. You will grow to love some of the things that will at first seem so alien and unfamiliar. Don't be scared. One day Copenhagen will feel like home. One day I hope you will know that we are taking you out of your comfort zone in order to broaden it so that as you grow up you will yearn to explore and discover new cultures of your own. The time it will take you (us) to settle into our new Danish environment and to find our groove is an episode we will look back upon as a mere blip.

Please know that I lie awake in bed at night and I wonder if we are doing the right thing for you. However hard you will find it to say goodbye to your friends when the time comes, it will be harder for me to look on.

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