I got picked in Kleroteria a couple of months ago. This is my contribution.
Three years ago, my wife and I moved to Amsterdam. We wanted to have kids, and thought the Netherlands was a better place to do that than Mexico, where my wife is from and we lived.
We’ve both moved around a lot, and have picked up the languages of the places we’ve lived. That’s how we speak French and Spanish, along with English. Learning those was always a necessity; no one in France is going to speak English voluntarily, and my in-laws don’t speak the best English so I had to learn Spanish.
So it was a change to come to the Netherlands. Everyone here speaks perfect English. They also have no patience for your attempts at Dutch pronunciation or verb conjugation. The second they hear you’re not from here, they switch. On paper this is great, but it means that after three years here I still don’t speak Dutch. I can never get anyone to have a whole conversation with me in it.
A couple of weeks after we came here, we got pregnant. We had a boy, who has grown up into a little man who loves cars and trains, makes funny faces at the dinner table, and keeps trying to show our dog his books. ("Pancho! See!", but Pancho doesn’t care.)
We speak to him each in our own language, and by now he understands what we say. He’s been going to daycare here since he was five months old, where they speak Dutch, so he understands that as well. Kids who grow up with more than one language start speaking later, which is can be frustrating for everyone. He knows what he wants to say, but can’t figure out what words to use, and we have to keep guessing at sounds while other parents don’t.
He’s finally speaking now. He tells us everything he wants and knows. In Dutch. Every time. Every word comes out in Dutch. And we still don’t really speak it. It’s not really any less frustrating for anyone. There’s a lot of guessing at pronunciation and Google translate.
But what do you know. I did finally get someone to speak Dutch to me.