Hello and welcome to the first installment of Family matters! This will be a weekly column where you can come to read and share about the experience of raising children in Barcelona.
Bringing up kids in a foreign country isn’t always easy. They do things differently than we do back home. They feed their kids different stuff, they put them to bed at different times and they send them off to school at different ages where they teach them in different ways. Sometimes these differences are exciting, sometimes annoying and, very often, just completely perplexing. This is especially true when you aren’t fluent in the local languages, and when you don’t have kind relatives and friends around to help you out when you very clearly don’t know what you’re doing.
This column aims to address different parenting issues and questions that many of us may have as foreign parents here in Barcelona. Often I’ll be writing about personal parenting experiences but I’ll also be sharing practical information as well as interviewing various people around the city who have interesting perspectives and insights into the process of raising kids in Barcelona. I plan to make this as interactive as possible so I’ll be asking lots of questions and hoping to get comments and suggestions from readers. I am NOT a parenting expert, nor am I an expert on Barcelona. However, I’m hoping that between my experiences and yours, we can all learn a bit, or at least do some community commiserating
A bit about me. My name is Johanna and I’m from the United States. This means that I say things like 'stroller' and 'cookie'. I’ve been living in Spain for three years (two years in Madrid and one in Barcelona.) My Castilian is passable but in Catalan my current vocabulary is limited to 'good day', 'frog', and 'belly button'. I am a freelance writer and illustrator and I have two sons. Nico is six years old and he attends a Catalan public school. His favorite things are Batman, soundtrack music and eating raviolis. He loves talking about “bad guys” and he also likes to cook. Recently he has decided that he’d like to be a prison chef when he grows up, thus effectively combining two of his strongest interests. Luca is 21 months and up until now, he’s pretty much just hung around the house being alternatively cute and contrary. He likes dogs and buses and he says the word “no” approximately 500 times per day. My husband Alex is a Colombian who has to travel a great deal for work. Nico recently compared him to “a kid in a cartoon who gets to travel to a new part of the world in every show.” An apt description if ever there was one.
Cultural differences can be tricky to write about because, when it comes down to it, there is no black and white when it comes to human behavior. Obviously much of what I write will be from my personal perspective and this means that there will be times when I come to conclusions which you may not agree with. Feel free to say so! Just not in such a way that I’ll want to go and throw myself out of the nearest window (especially because I live on the planta baja so then I’d just be confounding the locals with my odd behavior even more then usual).
Check back next week to read about searching for nurseries (the kind that house children, not plants) in Barcelona!