We recently moved our son to a school more suited to his needs. The change was not without some fretsome moments. And now we have to start again. Him with new buddies, a new routine and an extremely lovely teacher. (The woman is a flippin’ saint.)

He’s doing great. He comes out of school with a fizzing head and some mad sounding Dutch.

And me? I am faced with the herculean task of getting to know a whole new gang of parents and make friends.
So my kid will get playdates.
And not be the one with the weird mum.

My son’s classroom had a surplus of frogspawn and as part of the whole, “Be nice to my son” campaign, I volunteered to take some frogspawn home.

I wanted to be the ‘Yes’ mum. I don’t know why. I am pretty sure the Dutch mums give zero fucks about me and my frogspawn. I felt that maybe they’d like us (him) more.

It’s weird being a ‘foreign mum’. There’s no shorthand for the road in to making friends. No cultural similarities, small talk or shooting the shit about the local goings on. It can be bleak and leave you feeling pretty isolated. Anyway, I chose to break the ice with frogspawn…

I have never seen a prouder 5 year old, carrying out his teacher’s green bucket, with its precious blobbyegg cargo.

These are not just any old frogspawn, you see, oh no! These are the teacher’s actual babies.

My husband is so very not into it. He was pretty horrified when he came home to discover that the 5 year old’s most exciting life-event-to-date was taking place on the kitchen unit… Up and out of arm’s reach from the 3 year old. (She’s a penchant for covering everything with glitter. And I’m not sure if tadpoles do glam rock.)

It turns out the husband is SCARED of the tadpoles. Now granted some of this fear is justified by the emotional rollercoaster we have been on with them. For example, there was that time where the 5 year old voice of doom announced them all to be dead. They weren’t.

And there was the ceremonious releasing of 90% of them into our local pond. There were tears and speeches by the 3 year old, who had become surprisingly attached to them.

To be honest I didn’t expect them all to live, thrive and get quite as bloody violent with each other as they did – it is like a pollywog cage fight some evenings. And my husband has sworn he’s seen them swim around so fast that they jump out of the water. But he’s a nervy type with it comes to nature. I found out that Nerveball Nature Inexpert knows feckall about the tadpoles – so I had to explain that they are not going to be able to actually escape all over the house and crawl under his pillow.

They do make some interesting plopping bubbly sounds, which can put one on edge, if you have your back turned and aren’t expecting it.

The most entertainment in our home right now is watching the tadpoles eat the centre out of a slice of cucumber then swim it around like a rubber swim ring at a pool.

I had no idea that tadpoles were so needy. I had them as a kid and I remember they changed to frogs and we released them within a matter of weeks.

Now I know the great life secret, the one we all find out eventually. My mum was doing it all.

I am knackered. It’s like having 200 newborns in the house…..what with changing the water and transporting the buckets of pond water, so they will have the right environment to thrive in. Monitoring the enthusiastic feeding and picking out the odd objects that have ‘fallen’ in.

And don’t get me started about the answering of the 5 year old’s questions about life, birth, death, how and why an egg knows when to stop being an egg, what exactly is fish food made out of…..it’s all very draining.

I thought they’d be little frogs and hopping off by now. But no. They are still living here. Eating me out of house and home. Causing me to google things like, ‘How does a tadpole know when to grow legs?’ before I’ve managed to have coffee in the morning.

I was born in Ireland, grew up in England and met my Cornish husband in Catalonia. We now live in the Netherlands, in Dutch suburbia with our two differently wired, small kids. I spend my days parenting, writing and being amazed at all the Dutchness around me.

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