Much like Slovenia, it’s not uncommon to see children Nolan’s age 9 walking to school by themselves or taking the bus alone. Kids have more freedom in Lithuania than they do in the United States. Children in Lithuania also don’t start grade school until they are age seven which is much different than the US at age 5.
The older boys attend the American International School in Vilnius, so they don’t see much difference in their lives in terms of school. Dean, or shall we call him Deanas (you add as on the end of male names in Lithuanian), attends a public daycare; this has been GREAT for Dean and GREAT for me as it’s much cheaper than American daycare, we pay about $100 a month, and that includes food.
Since attending Lithuanian daycare, Dean has very quickly learned Lithuanian. He refuses to say “Yes” and only says “Taip” which means yes in Lithuanian. He doesn’t say, “I want that,” he says, “nori” I could go on and on. It’s been a fun experience watching him learn a second language. I love that he wakes up every morning asking to go to school.
Dean attending a Lithuanian school has also given me a glimpse into the culture of being a mom in Lithuania. I must pack him a hat every day; this isn’t practiced much in the United States. If your child doesn’t have a hat on going to school in Lithuania (It’s a big deal), Lucky for me, I live right next door; I might have forgotten his hat a time or two.
When Dean first started daycare, I had to “transition” him to go every day. The transition was VERY FRUSTRATING for me because Dean has no issues being left alone. I didn’t have a choice and humored them; I went with Dean for one hour on the first day, the next day, we went together for 2 hours, you get the idea. Long story short, on the 4th day, I was like, he’s okay, I’m leaving. Sure enough, I was right, he was fine, and they told me he could now start coming all day. The transition into daycare isn’t something we do in the United States. Most of the time, you drop them off and run. However, I later learned that I believe it helped him. Out of my three boys, he’s the only one that runs to school! We pass his school, and he yells, “Mom!! School!!”
Living in Lithuania with children has been AMAZING. Minus the big elephant in the room…cough cough COVID. Other than the pandemic, I couldn’t be happier living in Lithuania as a mom to small children.