My Photo
Name:
Location: Viljandi, Estonia

Monday, February 05, 2007

Marta's New Home

This is our new home. As sad as it was to leave all our stuff behind in America, it feels damn good to actually have a new roof over our heads after living on planes and in airports and even in Warsaw, Poland.

Europe is such a strange entity. It's supposed to feel different but it feels the same at first but then it actually feels quite different than the US. If you can follow that. I know that I felt a little strange about moving Marta across the Atlantic. Would she magically become polite in mid-air? Would my child change, as our surroundings changed? Fat chance. As soon as we were escorted to the Hotel Okecie in Warsaw to spend the night and eat yummy, greasy Polish food, Marta was running around, telling ladies that she liked their hair and, by the way, did you notice my pink boots? One guy even gave her a rose. How cute.

On the planes, she was really into the Polish babies. I got really tired of chasing her. On the way to Tallinn she kicked and screamed. The Italian guy in the seat behind us was very upset. He put his fingers in his ears. The Polish guy in the seat in front of us was content though, flipping through his nudie mag and drinking a can of beer at noon. See, Europe is a little different.

In Tallinn, we put our bags in our old Valgevase apartment and headed south on the train to Tartu. Marta spoke to her mother in Estonian, but to all strangers in English. She didn't realize that she was in a country where almost everybody spoke her literal mother tongue. And that's sort of something I have been paying very close attention to. The bilingual child learns one language from Mom and one from Dad. That way she learns no mistakes and has the benefit of being really smart and cool and knowing two languages.

This situation came to a head when we got to Elo's place in Tartu. It was snowing and cold but Tartu looked beautiful with its wintertime lights. Marta first tried speaking to Simona in English, and Simona knows some English, but then Simona was asking me to translate and I realized that Marta was going to be forced to use her mother tongue (instead of her father tongue) to communicate with her cousin.

The thing is that Marta is a social animal, and like a comedian, she knows her "lines." She has a routine, "my name is Marta Petrone, I'm three, do you like my pink boots?, come on, let's play" that she never uses with other, non-English speaking kids. Never used. Until now.

Today she went to school, where the kids are also three and really know no other languages. I watched as Marta said "come on" a few times with no response, until she said "tule!" and her young friend obliged and followed her. We are told that she used her English more than half the time at school. My guess is that she will phase out as the days progress and she gets accustomed to using her Estonian language skills.

She still has the differentiation down between Epp and I. This morning she woke up and said, "Come Justin, wake up, wake up" with no hesitation, in the same way she'll confidently tell Epp that she wants to eat something in Estonian. I've got her to the point that she knows that my language is called "English" but she hasn't figured out, at least with me, that Epp's language has a name and is its own entity.

I'm glad Marta has this time though. Her school is so cute. It's this sprawling yellow house with a red roof and her class is the "Mesi Mõmm" class, or "honey bee," where other cute children gather and räägi eesti keeles. Outside, while they were playing, many had their own kelkid, or sleighs. It was a site to behold, seeing little midgets holding on to their sleighs like they were fishermen in dingies. I hope she likes her school. Her teachers seem experienced and like they've got their heads screwed on right.

Marta is also happy to see family members she hasn't seen in a long time. Both her and Simona went after Priit and attacked him like good nieces. I think Marta likes yelling Priit's name. Anyway, she is doing better these days. Less jet lag and less cranky behavior, which means she still is pretty cranky anyway, but not extraordinarily cranky.

14 Comments:

Blogger Kaur said...

Welcome :)

How is Marta compared to other children at her school? I think she is more active then any (other) Estonian child I have seen.

And it is not school... it is lasteaed... kindergarten... a garden full of kids :)

6:33 PM  
Blogger Kristel said...

Kaur, the term really depends on the audience of the blog, right? Given that G writes it in English, he is 100% correct to use school, short for pre-school - kindergarten is strictly reserved for the year before elementary begins. Once he switches to Estonian (!) surely he'll be writing lasteaed.

5:18 PM  
Blogger Epp said...

Someone in America asked from me: where is she exactly going to, daycare or school?

I did not know what to say. Whats the difference.

daycare - because she can stay there for all the day and because there is the nap time.

school - because they have their "classes", the activities. Today we run to be there at 9 am - for the music class.

3:22 AM  
Blogger Helen said...

In Estonian context I would say it's still kindergarten. and you can have classes at kindergarten too. even more than 25 years ago we had music, gym and even some language classes in my kindergarten. isn't null-klass (or how is it called nowadays?) called pre school?

5:40 AM  
Blogger Martasmimi said...

And it is not school... it is lasteaed... kindergarten... a garden full of kids :)

...a group of kids standing together in in a field would by these standards be a kindergarten.

In this part of New York there is a big difference between Day Care and Pre School.
Day Care is just that, care for young children during the day for parents who work and cannot be at home.
Pre School is much more academic.
Pre Schools have children reading by age 4. Some of the private schools require that you be on a waiting list for years and in NYC it can be pre-birth. These are the NYC children who go to Yale, Harvard, Georgetown, Julliard, or Re-hab
Sad to say that where you go to
Pre School can change the direction of you entire life....

6:25 AM  
Blogger Kristel said...

MartasMimi, I'm pretty sure the "direction of your life" is far more greatly determined by your parents than the choice of preschool... but regardless, looks like Marta has done fantastically on both fronts! BTW, we are in one of those fancy schools with 99% going on to four-year colleges and 60% to Ivy League schools - but to my great happiness, the kids spend a good part of the day feeding ponies and making apple cider. Academics are vastly overrated, esp for the 3-year olds.

Helen, it's pretty weird and kind of on its head, but in the US (not sure about the brits) null-klass=kindergarten and lasteaed=pre-school. Though by Epp's description Marta's probably is a bit more like daycare, naps and all. But who cares, M looks happy and is making friends!!

12:33 PM  
Blogger Martasmimi said...

MartasMimi, I'm pretty sure the "direction of your life" is far more greatly determined by your parents than the choice of preschool...

Kristel,
I guess since you have enrolled your children in one of "these" pre schools you must have given some careful consideration to their stats or you would have chosen a basic local day care program.
I agree that there is no substitute for good parenting but unless you are an academic "super star" in a NY city run school your opportunities will never equal or surpass what is offered in a private school.
There are many good public schools on LI and in Westchester Co.
I was not referring to them in my post..
...and quality parenting does not automatically make quality children.
You can be certain that outside influences will negate even the very best of parenting...
Oh.. in Justin's school
the gifted students in Kindergarten were still in the top 20% in their Senior year.

....Marta is such a friendly engaging child that I doubt she will ever have a problem making new friends.
She has a very big personality and it will just need a very large "room".

4:15 PM  
Blogger Giustino said...

Oh.. in Justin's school the gifted students in Kindergarten were still in the top 20% in their Senior year.

Now you are exaggerating, Mom :) In both kindergartens I attended, St. Philips and Setauket School, there was no "gifted" program for five year olds. There was a lot of coloring, and reading, and typical kids stuff.

The separation of kids came into place in about second to third grade when reading levels were established, etc, and that DID have an effect down the road as far as placement.

It was very hard for a kid who was in intermediate, for example, to jump levels to advanced, and that follows you through junior high school, etc. So that can have an effect on your life.

As for the "gifted" kids getting ahead, they fared as well as about anyone else. Perhaps it is just my generation, but a a lot of those kids were experimenting with *real* drugs (LSD, cocaine, etc.) by the time they were 16 or 17 years old. As you can imagine, that stuff has a negative impact on your academic performance.

And it didn't matter how smart or "gifted" you were, if you didn't do the work, you didn't get the results. The kids that did the best in school were the ones that worked the hardest, who read all the assignments, who took things seriously.

I'm not sure who establishes the work ethinc in a kid. I guess everyone contributes, both school and parents.

9:51 AM  
Blogger Martasmimi said...

{ The kids that did the best in school were the ones that worked the hardest, who read all the assignments, who took things seriously.}
"I thought you did that???" (joke)

You entered Kindergarten reading on an almost 2 year level.
(good parenting) :)
You were placed in a class that had room because we arrived mid year.

The following year you and several others were taken out of your 1st year class and brought into a
2nd year class for reading math and science...
You were tested in third grade.. accepted into a honors program in 4th grade...

{"These are the NYC children who go to Yale, Harvard, Georgetown, Julliard, or Re-hab"}
Noticed that my post included ReHab.
Bright, gifted, wealthy, kids get into trouble just like anyone else.
Perhaps more so...
I have no illusions here..

"...and quality parenting does not automatically make quality children."
I have no illusions here either.
You can all come talk to me in 30 years...
...and you were not only a quality child but you are truly a quality person. :)

3:44 PM  
Blogger Epp said...

I hope my child will be happy in her life... I have no Yales in my agenda ;)
Epp, Martas mother

1:00 AM  
Blogger Giustino said...

Yeah, Yale seems kind of gross - just look at some its most famous graduates, like George W. Bush. Plus it's in Connecticut, strike two.

3:43 AM  
Blogger Martasmimi said...

Giustino said...
Yeah, Yale seems kind of gross - just look at some its most famous graduates, like George W. Bush.

...and Ian's dad too...????

The one thing I have learned as a parent is to never, say never, when it comes to your children.

There is a moment when Ian was 19 and being, well 19 ...
and Dad was angry about something he did...
I said to him "you better stop focusing on Justin so much and be kinder to Ian. " When he, Justin, grows up he is going leave you without a care in the world and move away to some foreign country"
I guess you were 12 or 13 at the time.....
So you are living proof that your children will do what they want.
So if Miss Marta wants to go to Yale and she can get in. You will never talk "her" out of it. ...and the fact that you don't want her to go there will make it all the more attractive to her...
: )

6:24 AM  
Blogger Epp said...

Exactly, if she wants to to to Yale or if she wants to go to an agicultural school to become a gardener or Tokyo to learn Japanese... Its up to her ;)

3:23 AM  
Blogger Martasmimi said...

Marta's Mimi and Marta's Mother agree 100%
: )

11:39 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home