From when I just started grad school I knew I wanted to do a post-doc in the US. I understand that many disgruntled post-docs will laugh when I say that being a post-doc was my dream job; not many kids will answer “post-doc” when asked about what they want to be when they grow up. It’s also not something very permanent. But what appealed to me is that it was an easy way to live in the US for a while. America. The country I knew from watching The Simpsons and Beverly Hills 90210. The country that made me realize that Sim City was based on actual cities, because to a European it seems weird that you can start a totally new city from scratch. Unless it was bombed in WW2.
So we did it: my husband (boyfriend at the time) and I moved to the US and became post-docs. Fast forward 4 years, some papers, a baby, a wedding and another baby and we’re almost ready to move back to the homecountry. I guess this extended maternity leave time gives me some space to reflect and made me realize: this was what I wanted and now it is almost over. I have a husband, children (saying this in plural still feels weird) and I lived in the US for 4 years. I guess now the rest of my life starts. (I know, I’m ‘only’ still a post-doc, there’s so much more after this, but stopping and realizing this makes me feel both appreciative and a little shocked about how time goes by as well).
So now these last few weeks that we’re here I am extra mindful of the squirrels outside (we don’t have those in the homecountry), the homeless people falling over after taking opiates (we don’t have those either; at least not visible), the potholes in the streets, the public bathrooms everywhere, the American flags on every building (in the homecountry you only put the flag up when a member of the royal family has their birthday or when you kid graduates high school) and the easy commute by car that leaves your hair like you did it at home (the homecountry is the country of bikes, but also that of tons of rain… not the best combination).
But this is also the country where quitting your job means no health insurance anymore, and where people go bankrupt because of medical costs. You call that freedom, I call that scary. Coming from a country of lots of social security (although I notice that in a crappy economy that is the first thing to go), that is something that I value more than I thought. Also, this is not the country where all of our family lives. And after BlueEyes was born, we quickly decided that eventually we were going to move back. And eventually will be in 3 weeks. Three weeks. I’m going to need new dreams.
Filed under advice for foreign post-docs, baby, cultural differences, cycling, disgruntled postdoc, health insurance, marriage, observations, postdoc, safety, travel
BlueEyes loves to go to playgrounds these days. And since yesterday the weather was awesome and we had already visited the playground near our house on Saturday, we decided to go to a park a bit further away. We discovered the best playground we found so far, with a separate area for smaller kids and a another area for bigger kids (which is nice, because dreamy BlueEyes sometimes gets body-checked by bigger kids that are running around). Since this little-kids-playground was pretty safe and since Dr. BrownEyes and I were together, I just sat there and had some time to look around. And what struck me was that most of the parents were only a foot away from their kids AT ALL TIMES. And they told their kids which slide to go down from, and what to do next. They even explained their kids what the playground looked like and what all the things were for. And they constantly told their kids to be careful and what a good job they did at sliding down the slide. (In the meantime, BlueEyes liked to go down the slides fast, meaning he gets launched at the end and comes down so hard that even I am surprised that that makes him laugh instead of cry. You can imagine this makes the other parents stare at us with something between surprise and disgust…)
What happened to imagination and exploring things by yourself? I mean, sure you want to make sure your kid doesn’t injure themselves too much, and doesn’t injure other kids, but other than that you can just sit there and have the kid decide which slide to go down right?
In my very limited observation, this behavior tends to segregate with demographics, in that higher income/higher educated parents tend to tell their kids which slide to go down from way more than lower income/lower educated parents, but this has not reached statistical significance yet. Good thing that in the future, I will probably be observing way more playgrounds.