The first day of school is just around the corner for many of us, and while some parents are thrilled to be rid of their kids, many of us are nervous and scared.
Some of you remember dropping off your little one on the first day of school, only to walk away with red eyes and feeling slightly traumatized. I remember when Logan started kindergarten, I rubbed the back of a sobbing mom and was happy I didn’t feel as shellshocked.
I’d already been through that when Logan was 7 months old and I returned to work, meaning he started daycare. But now that we’re in a new country, there’s a real possibility I’ll be fighting the water works on his first day of third grade.
I got a glimpse of that sort of trauma earlier this summer when Logan went to summer camp.
A week or so after we moved to Norway, he started a five-day sports camp, GIF. We felt it would be a good way to meet some kids and possibly try to make a friend or two before school starts. Plus the camp was at the local soccer club that we’ll soon join.
Hubby said he planned to stay the entire day at the camp just in case Logan needed help. I thought that was a bit over the top and babying him too much, but if that’s how Hubby wanted to spend his time, fine by me.
We arrived at camp early to get situated and I quickly saw my husband’s brilliance in staying there. Everyone, and I mean everyone, was speaking Norwegian. The majority of adults in Norway speak great English, but the kids, understandably aren’t yet bilingual.
So all of the yelling and screaming from little mouths was nothing but jibberish to us both. When the camp counselors shouted directions, they were indecipherable. Logan stood there, looking lost until Hubby leaned over and translated the directions in his ear.
When Logan’s group was all in a circle and had to introduce themselves and say something that they liked, my English-speaking boy wanted to do it in Norwegian. As each child had a turn, I could see his anxiety grow. When there were five kids ahead of him, he got fidgety. Four kids, his hands started to shake. Three kids, he bounced from one foot to the other. Then he began to rub his eyes.
My heart broke, rubbing his eyes meant he was fighting back tears. I rushed over to Hubby saying that Logan can introduce himself in English if he wants, but he was determined to do it in Norwegian. And he did it perfectly. The kid has way more guts than me.
After introductions, they started a somewhat organized playtime. Hubby needed to leave to take me home (we only have access to one car right now) so that I could go about my day. Logan was nervous to be left alone and began rubbing his eyes again.
Mine began to water. Ugh, this was much worse than kindergarten. I know others thought leaving their 5-year-old at school was hard, but this, leaving my child in the care of other teens in a place where everyone is speaking a language he barely understands… For me, that was hard. As we drove away, I felt like I’d left a big chunk of my soul at GIF.
Hubby had to leave town the following day, so Farmor was the one who went to camp with Logan and stayed with him throughout the day. We were all glad she did because there wasn’t much adult supervision.
The 150+ kids were divided into groups of 20 to 25 kids and each group was led by two 16 year olds. These poor teenagers didn’t have the gravitas to command the rambunctious children’s attention, so some of the wilder kids would take to climbing these spindly trees, throwing huge chunks of broken asphalt. It essentially seemed like a precursor to a Lord of the Flies situation.
Farmor soon became very unpopular with the camp counselors because she would point out the egregious oversights, plus remind the group leaders that they also needed to give directions in English to be sure to include everyone, aka her grandson.
Each day when Farmor and Logan returned from camp, I enjoyed hearing their stories of what crazy thing happened and how Farmor fixed it. One thing about Norwegians is that they are bluntly honest. One of the teenage counselors told Farmor she should go sit back by her car because he didn’t like her supervising them.
“Supervising is exactly what I’m doing because you’re not doing a good job,” She snapped back. Her fiery passion warmed both Logan and I’s hearts. I was happy to see someone else be a mama bear in defense of my cub. It was also plain funny because she was like a Norwegian Madea.
School starts in a couple weeks and Logan is nervous. We talk a lot about how it will be challenging in the beginning, that he won’t be the only one who’s nervous, and that after time, it’ll get much easier. I try to be reassuring, but inside I’m like “Gah! My baby!!!”
To calm my inner freak-out, I remember that our Norwegian Madea is right beside us, making sure he’s taken care of because she “ain’t afraid of no po-po.”