Sunshine boy from Atlanta——Experiences of Au Pair Life from a Host Father
It’s almost three months since Micah came to our family as an au pair. With getting on well with this American boy , it gradually gives me a different take on “Au Pair”. And I would like to share a couple of my experiences to all of you.
1.English immersion from the young “mentor”
To a great extent,undoubtedly, Micah’s arrival benefits my son —Thomas, a pupil in his second grade on English learning a lot. Micah is a quite responsible “mentor” . Thomas’s school has not yet set up any English courses for lower grade students and he’s almost a zero-based English learner. So it’s obvious that they can not communicate with each other in the first month.
At the very start, I thought that Micah could speak more English when playing with Thomas or picking him up from school. But it’s unexpected that the communication has become the biggest obstacle between them. Micah tutors Thomas in English one hour every day by an elementary textbook and practicing with games, cards and so on. One month later Thomas still could do nothing but bear several simple words in mind,and still pretty shy when getting along with Micah.
Well, it seems that we still need more patience.
At the next month Thomas began to grasp and remember some words and could simply express some of his opinions in English. Micah requested him summarizing his day using 10 English sentences and wrote them down. Then he asked Thomas to go through all of them,which helped Thomas get a further memory of those daily-used words and phrases. On this stage we subconsciously request Micah to talk more with Thomas on their way home every day. We even let them take a one-on-one talk on purpose when we family took a stroll at leisure. However, Thomas remained restrained a little. This state continued and we were looking forward to some new changes.
Everything comes to him who waits. A surprised change happened on the third month—— I found that Thomas could share some things with Micah in English naturally and was not shy any more. Well if he could not use the correct words to express he would try hard to explain in a clumsy way. That’s really somehow different than before. One day Thomas wanted to visit the dinosaur museum. Owing to the work we could not be with him ,so Micah became the best “candidate”. Well, they did enjoy a happy time themselves on that morning. At noon we met in the restaurant "Grandmother’s" for lunch, we could feel that the two of them still chatting happily and that moment my wife and I invariably realized that Thomas’s getting on track already —— as long as getting together they not only just naturally chat without our request but also did enjoy the initiative, and free communication.
2.Get into a healthy lifestyle
Micah has a pretty good appetite so that he’s also become the role model of Thomas on diet which all the Chinese parents concern. But nobody is perfect——Micah is sort of a non-athletic. And Thomas is also inactive in sports. We always suggest, even require Micah that more outdoor sports are supposed to be done with Thomas. But what frustrating is that when I saw "his best in sports"he called—— football, I almost give up .
Due to the could-not-be-dismissed thought of the developing a healthy lifestyle for Thomas by Micah’s guidance, I tried hard to tell Micah tirelessly :“It will be too hot in Hangzhou to go out in the coming-soon summer. So it’s the best season for outdoor sports now.” Also，I exhorted him as a host father:“you have a really easy life in China——without rising early just eating,sleeping,which easily leads to obesity”. At the same time, we indeed do not want to encourage his laziness.
It worked more or less. Micah began to exercise gradually:three-hour walking or one-hour cycling. Every day on their way home they run or bike together and that’s indeed enhance their enjoyment of life. For us, most attention,definitely is focused on the healthy lifestyle of the child. Micah said that he likes swimming and it makes us more expectant now.
3.Mutual caring and growth
Being much loved by the whole family, there is almost nothing demanding Thomas’s attention. Of course, he is only 8 years old. Micah speaks little Chinese so Thomas always actively offers to translate whenever they go out for dinners or any other occasions that Chinese is needed. No matter what he wants to eat or play, Thomas will care for Micah first and also respects Micah’s choice. Overall, he’s learned not only how to take care and help others, but also learned how to respect others' habits and choices. Getting along with different people(especially those from diverse cultures ),you will realize that not everyone lives in the same way as yours. And that will make you face all the challenges of your life with a light heart. I firmly believe that this experience will be a fortune in the process of Thomas’s growth, and will also help him to a correct outlook on life.
4.Heart to heart communication with proper freedom
As parents, we choose to let them handle things by themselves, besides appropriate communication with Micah. They both have good learning and living habits, getting along well with each other, which makes us feel at ease. We talked to Micah regarding Thomas’ English learning issue, formal or informal ways, only 4 or 5 times in the 3 months. The more we talked with Micah was: you should go out, see more of the city, and know more about China. Or we will make weekend tour plan together; or ask him about all kinds of stuff in USA from time to time, getting to know more about cultures of each other, share different funny things. There’s no doubt that our English level also improved in this atmosphere, meanwhile, we hope Micah could point out our English problem at any time.
Treat Micah like family; in the meantime, we will give him proper freedom besides reasonable suggestion and requirement. Appropriate distance makes out beauty, occasionally release will generate cohesion. With proper relaxation, no matter Au-pair or the family, will both keep easy and happy living situation. We enjoy this state of life a lot.
Now, we are fill with more expectation of Micah and our au pair life.