Saturday, 16 June 2012

What If My Kids Had Been Born in England?

I've been thinking. How different would my children already be if they had been born in England instead of the Netherlands. So, instead of three little Dutch boys with a British mother, they were three little English boys with a Dutch father.

The most obvious different is that their first language would be English, and not Dutch which is the case with my eldest. My school going 5 year old speaks better Dutch than English (whereas it was the other way round when he was a toddler because he was home with me) and now has a Dutch accent when speaking English. In England, they would not currently be bilingual.

But what about culture things? Or experiences? How would they be different if my children had been born and raised in England?

Well they certainly wouldn't have eaten sprinkles on their bread had they been born and raised in England. They wouldn't have eaten so many pancakes, and certainly not under the label of "dinner". They probably would have a better selection of healthier meal choices (read not everything fried with chips) whenever we eat out had we been living now in England.

My boys would know what a crumpet was without a lengthy explanation about a bread type thing with holes in it. Scones would be second nature. Hot cross buns at Easter time would be taken as a fact and Christmas crackers wouldn't be such a novelty.

Had they been British born, they wouldn't have had such a fine collection of orange shirts between them. They wouldn't have a clue what a Beesie was, seen an orange German helmet or seen a prince throwing an orange toilet. I can't imagine I will live to see the day that Prince Charles takes part in a toilet pot throwing competition, and I guess the real question is this: why on earth would he?

They wouldn't have scouted around flea markets on Queen's Day. Sinterklaas would have stayed a stranger.

None of my kids would have experienced being transported around on the front or back of my bike as past age eleven I cannot even remember owning a bike in England, let alone thinking about ferrying kids around on one.
Jip and Janneke would be an unknown couple. Dikkie Dik would never have become a familiar feline face and Nijnte would be called Miffy. They would have grown up with the bird on Sesame Street coloured yellow going by the name of Big Bird, instead of a blue bird called Pino.

Education System
My eldest would probably be wearing a school uniform (thus saving the knees on his day to day trousers) and I would likely be transporting him to and from school in a car. In England, he also wouldn't have already been a fully fledged member of the local junior school at the tender age of four.

They would be addressing their teacher as Miss Smith instead of Juf Krista if they were in the English education system and they would be unlikely to see their teacher in jeans unless on a school trip.

I'm going out on a limb to say that I assume my sons would not be so exposed to poop humour in England as they are in the Netherlands. They would know the voices of famous actors such as Tom Hanks from watching children's films in their original language, instead of Dutch dubbing which is (rightly) used for kid's programs. They would never have heard of Bumba, K3 or Kabouter Plop. They would never have seen Charlie and Lola speaking Dutch or Makka Pakka singing in Dutch.


This is what I call hills - something my Dutch boys are not familiar with
If my boys had been born and were being raised in England, they would most certainly know what a real hill looked like. As it is they think a speed bump is "high".

For my little Dutch boys an old, traditional windmill is commonplace, not something special. If they had lived in Watford like I did, a windmill sighting wouldn't be a weekly occurrence.

I am not convinced my eldest would have already had ice skates on and been on natural ice had we been an "English" family. And they wouldn't have been ferried around on bikes as babies.......

As my boys are still only little, there are lots more things we will come to experience that will make their lives here in the Netherlands different to the one they would lead in England. Some are positives (after all, Dutch children are the happiest in Europe), and a few are negatives.

But sometimes I wonder what impact being born in England would really have had on their lives, their personalities, their youth, their memories of growing up. Would their lives have taken a different path? It's an interesting train of thought!

What differences would have been evident if your children had been born in your birth country instead of the country you now call home? 


  1. What a great post! So true :) Just watching the football now and the baby was moving around big time. Made me think will it be different to DD as it will be born here? Unlike her?

  2. It's very interesting to think about how being born here effects how a child is when it grows up. I guess if they had been born in England and stayed there they would already be very different - it will certainly be interesting to see in your case as you have a comparison!!

  3. Had to come back and comment, so far Bsby monkey is only nearly 1 but she is more outspoken in her little way! Maybe her Dutchness shining through.Funky monkey was more of a laid back baby, Spanish side maybe? Britishness well so fsr eldest hates butter on anything that already sticks to bread itself, little one loves it. We will see!

  4. Very interesting to read!
    I only strongly disagree with stating that in England they would eat healthier when going to pub or restaurant... =Dutch mom living in England :-)

  5. I wasn't born in England, but moved there from Holland when I was 6 and was raised there by Dutch parents until I left for Uni in Holland at 18. I still feel my life is enriched by having experienced two cultures,laguages and sets of traditions. I still go shopping for pants and socks in M&S, sheet shopping in Peter Jones and eat bright pink taramasalata when visiting England. When we were small we would fight over licorice, pindakaas en hagelslag when guest brought them over as presents. And now I am bi-lingual, love crackers at Christmas but also eat Kerststol, celebrate Sinterklaas and have Christmas presents too!

  6. This is an interesting thing to ponder on and I often think about it and how my boys will never really get the concept of panto, nor know the story of most British musicals (probably wouldn't nowadays even if they'd been born in UK, but...) nor know the tunes to common hymns & carols! That last one is an anomaly for me as I'm an atheist and never go to church but still just "know" the tunes and words to many. The food side of things doesn't worry me, they know about marmite and fish and chips but over all I think we're better off for food in France! I like to think about these things but my boys would never be purely from anywhere as I'm not and I can't imagine a mono-cultural upbringing. I think our kids are very lucky and all the positives far outweigh any negatives.

  7. Really interesting Amanda! The TV character's names sound so different in the Netherlands. They are lucky they have you to teach them all the English stuff and they can live the best of both worlds.