PM’s French Adventures in the Matrix

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Cèid Donn
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Re: Pete Mollenburg's Adventures in the Matrix in French and Dutch

Postby Cèid Donn » Sat Dec 22, 2018 2:55 pm

Hi, I am still very new to this forum and to the regular users here, so I don't want to intrude too much, but I was reading your recent posts and to be very honest, I am very alarmed by the situation that you are describing here. I'm not married and I'm a not a parent, but I do work in education in a largely bilingual school district here in the US, so I work regularly with issues regarding parental and children rights, and in my case, that most definitely includes parents' right to advocate for their children and their right to speak to their children in a language the child understands. These are issue of child welfare, full stop. It doesn't matter why your child primarily expects you speak to her in French. That's the language she knows and uses to make sense of her world and her relationship with you, and no one has the right to say that you, her parent, have to change the way you have been communicating with her as this is part of your parental bond with her. Something like this is unnecessarily disruptive to your child's ability to understand her surroundings and her relationship with you, and it's not your in-laws' right to do that to your child.

The other thing is--and I know this forum likes to smile and play nice and avoid uncomfortable topics but here I go--that, from your description of your in-laws' behavior and your own emotional reactions, this domestic situation appears to be escalating and not in a good way. Understand that this is not your fault and that you're trying to do what's best for your family. But because human nature is depressingly predictable, it's safe to say your in-laws have been like this for a very long time and aren't going to change willingly as long as they think they have power over you and your wife. If your wife's first response to how to contain the situation is to not rock the boat, she probably knows just how bad your in-laws can get if the situation continues to escalates and I don't think anyone wants that to happen. Even if you manage to tough it out and get to Saudi Arabia, this isn't something that's going to evaporate on its own. So the best thing to do, I think, would be to seek out some expert advice and insight, either online or from organizations in your area, on how to deal with individuals like your in-laws before a huge, hurtful argument (or worse) erupts. Best of luck to you and your family and take care.
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Ani
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Re: Pete Mollenburg's Adventures in the Matrix in French and Dutch

Postby Ani » Sat Dec 22, 2018 5:39 pm

I'm totally on board with Cèid Donn's post. This could be potentially very upsetting to your daughter, and right before a big move. Children are *very* attached to language expectations.

My in-laws hate me, are also very controlling and after 10+ years I'm pretty much done compromising. It doesn't help anything and they look for the next thing to control. Not rocking the boat has done nothing for my marriage. In fact, one time I politely asked my FIL for a pan so I could make my kids an afternoon snack and he verbally attacked me because he wanted us to eat on his schedule, cursing and screaming while I had one baby on my hip and another clinging to my legs. In the fallout from everything my husband and I almost got divorced. All I'm saying here is that it doesn't help to "keep the peace" with overly controlling people. Courtesy is one thing and compliance is another. We're all doing better with my sky high, rock solid boundaries these days.

I'd look for another place to stay, honestly. Tell them they can either accept your family as it is, or you can leave. You can be courteous and polite, but there needs to be respect for you act your wife as adults who make the decisions for their children.

This is a stressful time for all of you and they're adding to that in an awful way. I wish you the best.
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Re: Pete Mollenburg's Adventures in the Matrix in French and Dutch

Postby Xmmm » Sat Dec 22, 2018 7:55 pm

You have to stick up for yourself, PM.

Mentally rehearse, get yourself under control, promise yourself you won't respond in kind to any provocation--no matter what. Then politely say you can't live by their rules, pack up and get out. Within the next 24 hours.

The way these family situations blow up, is that everyone gets out of control and starts screaming and saying things they really shouldn't say. Then everybody owes everybody else an apology. You want to avoid all that.

So ... be polite! But leave!
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PeterMollenburg
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Re: Pete Mollenburg's Adventures in the Matrix in French and Dutch

Postby PeterMollenburg » Sat Dec 22, 2018 8:36 pm

I truly appreciate the replies and support, (thank you Cèid Donn, Ani and Xmmm), but I’m so torn...

We are not living with them yet, as we’re set to move in on the 8th of Jan, but we are to see them tomorrow edit: in two days (Christmas Day), and there’ll be a gathering. I will be seen as provocative if I continue to speak to my children in French (and I absolutely want to now). All this after both of them have just been discharged from hospital-one of them was in a critical situation. It will be very hard for me not to come our of this volatile situation being seen as the bad one, very hard.

My wife does not want to rock the boat one bit and I will be seen as pigheaded if I stand my ground, possibly be seen clearly as the one who’s destroying Christmas and her and the kids relationship with them.

My wife (and I) would like the kids time with their grandparents prior to moving overseas to be special. My sister and I didn’t have a relationship with our father’s parents because of a feud between them and my mother, it’s something I desperately want to avoid.

Generally they never get rough and nasty, ever. All their control is passive agressive and crafty manipulation. Tbh, I’m more likely to explode than they are.

We don’t have many options. We have to be out of our house on the 8th. My MIL will be very busy working, while my FIL is semi retired and likely to be home practically every day as we’re in holiday season and he’ll still be recovering from recent serious illness. My wife absolutely does not want to take this time away from being spent with her family. It’s such a nice setting in the Australian bush too, it’s great for the kids and I’ve always encouraged them to spend time there in nature with their grandparents, but then there’s this bloody issue! I already suggested I stay elsewhere, my wife thinks I’m being absurd when I could just speak English for a few weeks and move on.
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Re: Pete Mollenburg's Adventures in the Matrix in French and Dutch

Postby Xmmm » Sat Dec 22, 2018 9:52 pm

Ah, well if your wife is not actually on your side, that's another kettle of fish. My advice is to keep your wife happy at all costs.

Maybe you could go on daily three hour nature walks that the grandparents can't keep up with. :)
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Надо баса, надо баса, надо баса, надо баса, надо баса, надо баса, надо баса, надо баса. -- аигел

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PeterMollenburg
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Re: Pete Mollenburg's Adventures in the Matrix in French and Dutch

Postby PeterMollenburg » Sat Dec 22, 2018 10:54 pm

Xmmm wrote:Ah, well if your wife is not actually on your side, that's another kettle of fish. My advice is to keep your wife happy at all costs.

Maybe you could go on daily three hour nature walks that the grandparents can't keep up with. :)


Actually this morning she does demonstrate being on my side but she wants to convey that she’s not really wanting to create a big family feud just before going overseas, thus she’s trying to find a solution. We’re discussing it and attempting to find a that elusive solution...

Yeah, the nature walk/avoidance thing is sth I’m seriously considering, but it still will result in tension and still means I have to modify my both my behaviour and my relationships all round. There seems to be no easy fix. It would mean that I also go out of my way to avoid family dinners etc
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Fortheo
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Re: Pete Mollenburg's Adventures in the Matrix in French and Dutch

Postby Fortheo » Sun Dec 23, 2018 12:52 am

It might just be one of those situations where, if you can't avoid it completely, then you and your wife may need to sit down and have a calm and serious discussion with your in-laws. I think it would be better if your wife is on your side and there with you when you talk to her parents.

Calmly and firmly state your points and your feelings about the situation, let them know how important speaking French with your daughter is to you, and tell them you'd like to find a solution that suits all of you. Be firm and don't budge on your values, but try not to blow up or give an ultimatum just to make your point unless you absolutely have to.

I want to stress that it would be best if your wife is on your side and fully supporting you while you have this convo with your in-laws.

That's my opinion, take it with a grain of salt.

Good luck.
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PeterMollenburg
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Re: Pete Mollenburg's Adventures in the Matrix in French and Dutch

Postby PeterMollenburg » Wed Dec 26, 2018 11:29 pm

Well xmas celebrations went as well as they could've gone, i'd say, that is, with regards to the aforementioned language tensions. I was subdued, quiet, avoiding any normal volume French in close proximity to those who who have an issue with it. It was the best approach on a special occasion, I think. No one wants arguments with such festivities. Needless to say, I didn't feel completely at ease, that's certain and felt like the outsider who won't do as he's told and is just some kind of an asshole.

To top it off, and I really think this could be petty of me to mention this, but we were given a photo album as a gift from my sister-in-law for reference to have a nice keepsake of the family while in Saudi. My children, my wife and all of her family (siblings, uncle, aunt, parents) featured heavily. I was not in one photo. Not even on the cover, which was a photo taken at my wedding. Practically everyone else was in it. I wasn't. I thought I got along okay with her, and this had me questioning things. I know it was more than likely just a complete oversight on her part, as she really truly, no, I mean this, simply does not think sometimes, but still, it was a disappointing cap to a subdued celebration, for me and indicative of how I'm considered by my wife's family - barely tolerated is how I'd put it currently. Although we all essentially did enjoy ourselves and the food my mother in law prepared was fantastic. The setting, also beautiful.

Btw, I had in the end, decided not to speak English to my children as it just does not feel right. It's not the language I use with my children. I reserve the right to change this in future depending on circumstances, but I don't accept someone else forcing me to change the language I speak to my children when I am not willing to. I was willing, in my mind, to supply translations, and ever pre-prepared my daughter to help with this, but in the end I just ended up being very quiet and avoiding pen normal-volume use of the language in close proximity, as speaking French, in the manner I would normally, didn't feel right either. That was Xmas eve (day time). On Christmas Day we drove a few hours to the town I grew up in, to celebrate with my family. There, it was such a different situation for me personally. So at ease, fun for the kids with my sisters children, and us too. It was really nice. If only, if only...

The situation will evolve for future visits with the in-laws. Unfortunately I do not feel like I will ever have anyone on my side, so to speak, except for my wife. I think this not wanting to rock the boat stance is pretty well widespread throughout the family, although I shouldn't just say that when I really don't know, but it's a fair assumption, usually. My wife has discussed with me the possibility of staying elsewhere, so she's now clearly on my side. Initially it wasn't the way, but she's standing by me. Anyway, I felt somewhat wrong about airing this dirty laundry in my log, but it is language related, and it's a way of sorting through the situation, I guess.
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PeterMollenburg
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Re: Pete Mollenburg's Adventures in the Matrix in French and Dutch

Postby PeterMollenburg » Thu Dec 27, 2018 5:58 am

2019 Language Plans

From the Language related New Year's resolutions for 2019 thread:

PeterMollenburg wrote:I kind of can't be bothered with language style resolutions after a number of years in which I've studied as much as possible and don't foresee my drive dropping off, thus resolutions aren't really necessary. Also, given the fact that I really can't tell what the next year has in store for me in terms of free time, so I can't tell yet what I can do, as it's dependent on free time and I don't know my 2019 routine yet. Also, I don't want to be as selfish in 2019. Thus my resolutions are to be more present and therefore create more focus on task (whatever that may be - family, language study, surroundings), thereby maximising EVERYTHING.

What I will definitely do - continue to learn French, get more serious (consistent) with Dutch and commence Arabic.

What I reserve the right to maybe undertake depending on cirumstances, is basically more languages, but I think, realistically, and fairly, that's unlikely, so no point mentioning any other languages at this time.

Good luck to everyone in 2019 and I hope you all have a very productive, balanced, pleasant 2019!


2019 Communications
I am currently leaning towards either not doing a log here at all in 2019, or only when outside of Saudi Arabia - on holidays for example. I just think it's perhaps a better approach to stay present/focused, and there are some other reasons which I won't go into but probably don't need mentioning.

As I don't use social media, I am planning on sending out a semi-regular email blog-like update from time to time on our experiences in Saudi Arabia. I have already taken the liberty of adding some members to that list with whom I have had some email contact with up to this point. If you suspect you're on that (very short) list and don't wish to be, please let me know here via PM. As my updates here in 2019 are likely to be less detailed, and less frequent, if at all, if you want to stay in touch via email or receive these email updates, please PM me here asap, even if it's very short and quick. I will NOT harrass you with anything else via email. I will not harrass you at all. I'm likely to only write to you if I'm already in touch with you via email, or if you write to me to say/ask something/ make some comments.

I think i'll be remaining relatively active here up to the end of January or early Feb. I'll write a final post for this log prior to leaving Australia.
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PeterMollenburg
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Re: Pete Mollenburg's Adventures in the Matrix in French and Dutch

Postby PeterMollenburg » Thu Dec 27, 2018 10:24 pm

I've had an idea for a new challenge...

Perhaps it's been done before, or a variation of it.

A "365 day challenge"

The main goal: Study your chosen language(s) for at least 30 minutes a day for every single day of the year.

Over the years of language study the one thing that seems most important in language learning is remaining consistent. I've never been perfect, and I'd like to aim for a perfect year. A year without missing day I think would see vast improvements to one's chosen language(s), as I think a lot is lost when momentum wanes or comes to a grinding halt. Thus, it's become soooooo absolutely important that if you want to progress and progress well, you must NOT skip days, must NOT make exceptions, you MUST study every single day! Hate late nights? Hate the idea that there will be special days like Christmas in which you won't have time? Well, actually the idea is, no, there are no excuses, you must find the time.

Perhaps I could have a kind of log, but it would be a group one, if others were willing to join in on such a challenge. If the response is bigger than anticipated, then it wouldn't be my log, it would be a shared challenge. Well, these are just some thoughts I've had of late.

If you had not studied by midnight, that's okay, as long as you study before sleep would be the rule. If you nap 30 min after midnight but then suddenly wake to do your study, that would be okay, provided your longest period of sleep came after your study session.

Study would have to be discussed/defined more clearly as it would potentially be open to much debate.

Perhaps one could join with several languages, but have an order of priority so that if you come to a day in which you simply cannot make it through all your languages, failing the challenge in less important languages while surviving for the remaining important one(s), wouldn't be the end of the world.

Whoever makes it the furtherest through the year, wins. If there were more than one who made the entire year, then it might come down to either granting several winners of equal standing, or granting an overall winner based on who had studied the most by the end in terms of languages, hours, or everything combined.

If people express interest in such a challenge, I may post this in a separate thread, if not, it could fizz away into nothing, or I may even attempt it just by my lonesome.

Get a foot on, or two,
who am I even?
PM
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