We’re back! The past three months we traveled to three different countries while visiting our family and friends in Saudi Arabia and Holland as well as paying a quick visit to Malaysia. But although we are back in New Zealand, we are still living out of our suitcases. As long as we haven’t moved to a new home we are keeping our stuff in the storage. Hopefully it won’t be too long until we settle down, ’cause we are kind of tired of having no home.
Maria, on the other hand, has been amazing adjusting to all the changes every time. She seems to be happy everywhere we go, as long as she has some toys to play with. And our love and attention, of course.
These past three months Maria changed tremendously, if you ask me. While she is now 22 months, I often feel like she has already entered the terrible twos. Not that she is terrible – not at all. But she does like to have everything her own way, which is okay, if that didn’t change every five seconds. An example: I ask Maria if she wants a banana or an apple. She chooses the apple. I start cutting it and give her a piece. Then she suddenly wants the banana. So I wonder, should I give her a piece of banana, risking that she won’t eat that either and end up with two pieces of half-eaten fruit? Or stick with the apple and risk a tantrum? It’s a dilemma.
The last three weeks in Holland we spent without Ahmed. That was sad, but fortunately our days were filled with activities. We had several friends coming over for a visit, we visited friends at their place, and we had a very nice (and snowy!) weekend getaway with my family to celebrate my mom’s 65th birthday.
Traveling with a Toddler
I might write another, more detailed, post about my experience traveling with a toddler, but for now I can say that the flight Maria and I took together from Amsterdam to Jeddah (via London) went very well, despite not having a tablet or phone with offline videos. Though we almost missed the flight (how did I know I was supposed to bring a document with her dad’s signature to allow us to travel without him?) we landed in London after a one-hour flight in which Maria was happy and talkative. Luckily, our neighbor didn’t mind.
In London we had a quick bite before we got on the second plane to Jeddah late in the evening. There were many empty seats and just like when we traveled from Jeddah to Amsterdam, we got a seat in the front row. As we took off, Maria fell asleep on my lap, and she stayed asleep for four hours.
Ahmed picked us up in Jeddah, and as soon as we got home, I crashed, because I hadn’t slept much on the plane. Maria crashed a few hours later and had a good afternoon nap.
Brimming with confidence, we boarded a week later on the plane to Kuala Lumpur. The tablet had been fixed by Ahmed and now we were two traveling with a toddler. Maria, though, had other plans, and sleep was not one of them. During the first flight, she slept a couple of hours – way less than we had hoped for, given that it was an overnight flight. She fell asleep again in the stroller while we were in the queue for customs. We had an 11-hour layover in Kuala Lumpur before our second flight to Auckland, during which we stayed at an airport hotel. We all slept for about four hours.
The second flight started promising. Maria fell asleep almost immediately. But, alas, she woke up after 30 minutes, and it was impossible to get her back to sleep. The later it got, the more active she became. Lights went out, people snored, tummies were filled… Nothing could make her fall asleep. Ahmed and I spent almost 10 hours taking turns looking after Maria, but neither of us could sleep much. Then, thirty minutes before we reached the ground, she finally fell asleep!
We all crashed as we reached our apartment (Maria slept during the 1.5-hour drive from Auckland to Hamilton as well), and it took about five days until we kind of adjusted to the local time.
Raising a Trilingual Child
The more Maria starts to talk, the more Ahmed and I think about the three languages we would like her to learn. Ahmed, for his part, is mainly concerned that she won’t learn proper Arabic. At the moment, most words Maria uses are in Dutch. I, on the other hand, worry about her social interactions with kids here. They won’t understand her if she talks in a different language. And I wonder if I should talk Dutch to her when there are English (or other) speaking kids (and parents) around. I don’t want to be rude, but I also read it is important to be consistent.
That said, I am curious to see how her speech will develop in the coming months, now that we are back in New Zealand and joining all kinds of classes and playgroups again.
Sharing Or Taking Turns?
Talking about interaction with other kids, I am beginning to notice more clashes. The other day we were in the playground and Maria wanted to sit on a bumble bee. Another, smaller, child was sitting on it as well. I put Maria on the empty seat in the back. Soon enough, Maria decided that she wanted to sit in the front and started to push the little boy!
The difficulty here is that I could talk to her about sharing, but would a 22-month-old toddler be able to understand that? I read somewhere that it is easier for them to grasp the concept of taking turns, so I stick to that. Not sure she knows what I mean at this point, though.
Lately, Maria has been saying “We zijn er” (“We’ve arrived”) when we get to our destination. When we were on the plane from Jeddah to Kuala Lumpur, the plane taxied to the runway. It then stopped and Maria, sure enough, exclaimed with relief, “We zijn er!”. We had only about 34 hours to go…
Last weekend, we went to a beautiful cafe on a strawberry farm outside Hamilton. Maria went to play in the playground. I was standing next to her, watching her play. Then she said down, patted the seat next to her and said, “Mammie zitten” (“Mommy sit down”). My heart melted.
Here are a few more photos to conclude: