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Our move (almost) across a bilingual country

As many of you know, when we started the blog we lived near Montreal, Quebec, Canada. A little while ago we announced a semi-summer break for our move this summer. So here is the gist of why it happened and how it went…

Our move - apple pickingNico was born in Calgary, Alberta, but after a few months, we decided to move back to my home province. I had left Quebec 12 years prior and never returned, dearly missing the traditions of my childhood (sugar shack, apple picking, strawberry picking, etc), I wanted my child to live them too. It would also be easier to find schooling materials in French (Canadian French is very different than the France stuff you find online), when time would come. Fast forward 3 years and we are back in Calgary.

Why? Short version: emergency gallbladder removal for me or I would’ve died in 24 hours, thyroid removal for Alex which turned out to be cancer, skunk infestation in the backyard, house full of mold but the landlord didn’t think so and that just to name a few things in our 3 years over there. One main reason was also the feeling that I didn’t belong there anymore, that I was no longer welcome, because I had left to explore and discover new things. This is a common attitude amongst Quebecers, not all are like that but turns out most of my “friends” are. They stayed, didn’t change and I left and changed, so I’m no longer welcome. They say: “You can never go home”, it’s true and sadly I know the feeling now. So we left…

When we told the people we knew in Calgary we were coming, most answered with: “It’s about time you guys come home!” It was a nice feeling for sure :)

Our move - Nico 1s moveNico being so young for the first move doesn’t remember it and to him Quebec was his home, all he knew, so this was a difficult choice to make, our own happiness over what he knew as his life… Still is something I struggle with when I see him struggle or ask questions, I can only hope that in the long run it’s the right choice. When we told him several months before that we were moving, he asked why? We tried our best to explain that it was for a better life in a more fun city with some really fun things to do, after all he had just turned 3 and other than that what could we say really?

Well it turns out I had to explain plenty more! One day, it occurred to me that he didn’t know what moving actually meant!
I told him it was just us moving, I could see him wondering what I meant.
1) We were not bringing the house, he was shocked and wondered where we’d live. I told him in a new house over there.
2) The people we knew (Grocery store lady, our chiro, the dollar store ladies, etc) were not coming with us. That was a big revelation, with this news I saw his little heart break and mine did for him right after. Sad he asked why, I told because they live/work here and their family is here too. To which he answered “us too…” true but we want to move to a new place and see new things, they don’t for now. We’ll come back and visit.
3) In case you don’t know, Nico speaks only French but fully understands English as Alex speaks to him in English since he was born but he answers Alex, or anyone for that matter, in French. This is ok in a French speaking province, but Alberta (Calgary) is an English speaking province… When I told him he’d have to speak English like papa, he said no cause papa understands when I speak to him. Again that’s true but papa understands French, in Calgary they don’t (some do but to a 3 year old let’s avoid nuances). He asked why, I said because they aren’t as lucky as you are to learn two languages. He asked why several times in the months after and still does when people don’t understand what he says in French. By now I tell him to try in English and give him an easy sentence to repeat.

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4) Calgary is really far, and we are driving there, we will spend several days in the car. His answer not understanding distances yet was, I like riding in the car to see things. Let’s just say I went against my “no DVD in the car” principle or it would have been a long 6 days for him! Also glad I made DVD copies of the recorded French version of the Wild Kratts, that’s pretty much all he watched.

On our third day in the car it finally clicked and he yelled out: “We are moving today!?” To which we laughed and said yes we have been for 3 days, lol.

When we arrived in Calgary, it took three days of hotel stay before we found a house, even though he liked the hotel pool, he wanted to go home (he also caught a cold so it wasn’t the best situation). We got in the house before it was cleaned, trying to expedite things, in hindsight we should have waited but too late to go back now.

Our move - making a friendAfter a few days of cleaning the new house, rainy weather and feeling better, we noticed a park behind the house, 3-4 doors down, so after dinner we headed over and Nico made a little friend :) He’s 1.5 years older and doesn’t speak French, which brought up that topic again but he has me translate or teach him small key phrases he can remember/use.

The adjustment is far from over and we have a long road ahead but I think/hope he’ll be fine…


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