This move to the US has really changed me…
New BFF: “It’s so nice to meet you. What did you say your name is?”
New BFF: “Say again?”
New BFF: “Sharlette?”
Me (deciding we are not going to be BFF’s after all): “Yes.”
I may need speech therapy or the dentist to fix the gap between my teeth, but at least in The Netherlands I was able to pronounce my own name.
One time, at the playground, a mom managed to ask me to repeat my name seven times. I don’t even remember if she finally got it right, or that we left it at Sharlette.
Picking a name for our girls, my first requirement was for it to be pronounced the same way in Dutch as in English. I didn’t want my children to go through what I’m going through.
And now, with ‘Pippa and the Kids’, I can tell everyone in my new country about it and be sure I’ll get some hits…
Maybe we should be more grateful for the Tiger Moms in this world. Big chance one of them raised this kid. Meet Hahn-Bin, 22 years old, violin player.
“I’m Viagra to classical music and Aspirin to pop culture”, he said on Twitter, which is, on his website, translated to: “This dynamic violin virtuoso embodies the renaissance of classical music, fusing his highly evocative repertoire with pop performance act in the extraordinary, intelligent, and beautiful performances of his inspired, innovative and bracing programs.”
His stages aren’t like those of the typical classical artists either; he performed at The Standard Hotel for V Magazine, at the Louis Vuitton store for Fashion’s Night Out, at the MoMA in conjunction with the Andy Warhol exhibit, and he performed ‘The Five Poisons’ at the Hammer Museum.
If you have seven minutes, do watch this video. Not only will you hear the most beautiful violin music, he’ll also tell you about himself, his music, and his style.
In 2009, when the High Line Park on Manhattan’s West Side had just opened, it got a lot of write up in the newspapers. Not as much about the landscape architecture, as about the views. According to the NY Post, The Standard, a fancy hotel with floor to ceiling windows, situated right by the park, welcomed their guests with this special message: “Whatever you do, just make sure the shots are HOT and that you get them to us in whichever way you can. It’s all about sex all the time, and you’re our star.” Aight. After the newspaper had contacted the hotel, the post was abruptly changed, and guests were encouraged to cover up.
Now that the free spirited American parents consider it safe to take their children, the park has been a popular hang-out on the weekends. Artists have found their way, too. Last weekend, I met there a fascinating woman, Edie Pijpers, who was selling her paintings. Not only does she paint, she also sings, and she happened to be Dutch. Her work emanated so much warmth and happiness. Don’t you love her use of color?
On her website, you’ll also find beautiful drawings with pen and ink, and some examples of murals she has painted. I think it’s very cool to hire Edie to paint live at an event. Throughout the course of the event, she’ll try to capture the spirit and energy onto the canvas. You might meet her at one of our parties!
We live in Manhattan where we pay a lot of money to send our children to the best schools. Why? Because our children are more gifted and talented, and therefore destined to attend only Ivy League Schools. If not admitted to the right preschool at the tender age of two (some kids actually fail the test, or should I say their parents’ professions do), we’d better pack our bags and hide in the ‘burbs.
Funny? I wish… Earlier this week, NY Daily News published the article, “Manhattan mom sues $19K/yr. preschool for damaging 4-year-old daughter’s Ivy League chances“
Yes, this is the world I chose to raise my daughters in. So let me tell you about the world I came from…
In The Netherlands, preschool, ages 2-4, three hours a day, five days a week costs $3,000 per year. The same schedule at the Studio School on Manhattan’s Upper West Side goes for $19,600.
Okay, I let myself go by publicly sharing my wish list. It’s just that every now and then, I dream about taking Mia shopping instead of to school, and about how much she would learn about her possible future. Does a preschool really prepare her for Yale or Harvard? In court papers, Nicole Imprescia (yes, by now everyone in NYC knows the mom’s name) suggests the preschool jeopardized her daughter’s chances of getting into an elite private school, or the Ivy League.
Living in Manhattan places such an unfair burden on parents. It’s a very competitive city where lots of parents have the means to send their kids anywhere. The question becomes whether these preschools are preying on the emotional vulnerability of parents, or whether they can have a transformative impact on your child’s future.
Being Dutch, I feel like it’s ridiculous. Having been here for a while though, I’d happily invest in a costly preschool, if I knew it would help my daughter get a higher test score. For us, this would open the doors to public Gifted & Talented programs, for $0.00, compared to private elementary school tuitions which cost up to $35,000 per year (not including their fund raisers). Then, Mia could both attend a good school and go shopping with me. She’d be the brightest kid in New York City, and I’d have more Louboutin shoes than I could’ve ever dreamed!
When our second daughter Elle was born, Mia discovered the art of rhyme. Mia Bia, Daddy Baddy, Mommy Bammy, and Ellie Belly. Of course her little sister’s name was the funniest one to rhyme on, so Elliebelly stayed, and since it was too long for daily use, it transformed into Ellebelle. Yesterday, I even heard my husband using it. Hmmm…
This week I found a package from Amsterdam in the mailbox. Someone had sent me a shopping bag of a cute clothing store in Amsterdam, Ellebelle. Thank you for sending this! It makes me happy to know that Ellebelle is actually very fashionable in The Netherlands…
Yesterday, the perfect inspiration for Pippa and the Kids arrived in a little package from The Netherlands. My high school friend who has been following my blog, sent me a book called “Black and (A)broad: traveling beyond the limitations of identity“. The author, Carolyn Vines, is a black woman, who left the US to live with her white Dutch boyfriend in The Netherlands.
Hmmm, wait a minute. Let’s turn around the colors and countries. Sounds pretty familiar to me.
When I set up this blog, the idea was not only to write about stuff that interests me, but also to write about my experiences as a Dutch mother and wife, raising a bicultural family in the US. So far, the latter has yet to be developed. But trust me, so far I have already experienced many cultural differences, which are dying to leave my head to come alive on screen.
In the meantime, I was just wondering…
To my American girls:
- Have you ever heard Dutch girls discussing the cut and carat of their diamond engagement ring?
- Have you ever heard of the word ‘gezellig’?
- Did you know bread and potatoes are not ‘evil food’?
To my Dutch girls:
- Have you ever been pregnant and able to pee in a clean bathroom, anywhere?
- Have you ever had a doorman?
- Have you ever chosen your job to meet your future husband?
Stay tuned for more…