In Love

in loveIt is official. I am totally in love with the Netherlands. It was not easy to get to this milestone, but these past few weeks at least I really feel I have arrived!

It definitely helps that for two weeks or so now the weather has been absolutely gorgeous. Hot and sunny, sweltering even, meaning I got to drink lots and lots of guilt free glasses of chilled white wine or rosé. When/if summer arrives in the Netherlands you have to really make the most of it. Not having to wear socks, by the way, always cheers me up. But there was more, much more.

The Tour the France in Utrecht for instance. I never ever watch cycling, but the past weekend with the Grand Depart in Utrecht there was no escaping from it. I could not help noticing how absolutely glorious Utrecht, Rotterdam and the county of Zeeland looked, filmed from a French helicopter. I must have spent an unprecedented sixteen hours or so watching a bunch of sweaty cyclists battling it out, and much to my amazement (and that of Mr S., a hardcore Tour de France fan) I loved every minute of it. So much so indeed, that for the past couple of days I find myself really paying attention to the Tour the France news on the radio.

Going back another fortnight we celebrated the ubiquitous musical week. A very Dutch phenomenon, where every Dutch pupil in the last grade of primary school (aka ‘groep acht’) performs an end of primary school musical. The excitement this brings is unsurpassed. At least for a 12yo girl.  Months of practice, sourcing and making costumes, experimenting with make-up culminated in four performances in two days.

All Song and Dance

Although my 12yo did not talk about much else besides this musical for the past months, she somehow had not mentioned that she had quite a large part. I knew of course that she had been given the role she wanted, that of a police officer (to make absolutely one hundred percent sure that she would not have to wear a dress on stage), but somehow she had convinced me and Mr S. she only had a few lines.

For years and years now attending assemblies and other performances that included our daughter, always meant we a. would not see her as she had positioned herself safely on the back row, even tough she is not particularly tall, or b. her teacher would put her on the first row, as she is not particularly tall, and she would sing with her mouth firmly closed, looking like a rabbit in the headlights. Not that it mattered, we were always really really proud of her participating at all.

So completely prepared to tell her it does not matter, we love her anyway and by the way think that she said her one line extremely well, we take our seats. The opening song, and there she is, front row, all song and dance an absolutely radiant. Not only is she on stage during every song, singing her little heart out, she also turns out she is the star of three whole scenes together with the other police officer, the tallest boy in the class. One scene even involves her going into the audience with a microphone to interview people and even that she does with great ease.

Teacher

So now I am not only love with the Netherlands, but also with my 12yo’s primary school and especially with her ‘groep acht’ teacher. An amazing lady who apparently got out of bed at one in the morning during the overnight school trip to make a cup of tea for our daughter, who complained about a tummy ache, who convinced my very very stubborn 12yo that reading Dutch books could be as much fun as reading English ones by bringing in her own books from home specially for her, who made our daughter pass her end of primary school exams with flying colours and turned out to be an even bigger Harry Potter fan than our daughter (Mrs S and I did not even know that that was possible). It was lovely to be able to thank this teacher at the musical after party and to have a good old giggle about the fact that the 12yo was wearing a dress for this occasion!

Another Dutch tradition made sure that our daughter got officially kicked out of school, whilst being cheered and high fived by all the younger children. This was closely followed by days and days of going to the swimming pool, hanging out with friends and very, very late nights.

Just the other night, totally exhausted from all these festivities, I find the 12yo in tears. She is sobbing with such conviction and determination, that at first she can not draw enough breath to tell what is wrong. But eventually she calms down enough to confide in me she would love to stay in primary school and do ‘groep acht’ all over again.

But I just think she has fallen in love too. Fallen in love with the Netherlands, Dutch schools, Dutch friends and – dare I say it – even with Dutch books. So I guess she is going to be absolutely fine at her Dutch secondary school in September. And if she is happy, I am too.