Thursday, January 4, 2007

Dread about school, and medical card hassles that were actually kind of nice.

The kids are growing anxious about starting school on Monday. Particularly the older one. They still speak almost no Catalan or Castilian. We were away so much, and had company so much... they are mostly worried about getting bullied. They have seen it happening in Canada, and by ill-luck, or maybe good-luck, we are reading a book that has several characters being bullied and being very unhappy in school as they don't have friends. It is sparking conversation, and bringing out the issue in a manageable way, obliquely as art should do. Let's hope there's a good ending to the book though. I am reasonably confident about the kid's school. The teachers seem together, and the culture seems to be pretty intolerant of bullying. As far as I can tell, the same word is used for a bully as is used for a child abuser. Speaks to a high level of intolerance of bullying, unlike all the British, and their colonies who view it, at best, as a right of passage. The school is small and the classes are small. The kids that we have met all seem nice.

That said, someone is sure to be nasty to them at some point, and I cannot protect them from that. Systemic bullying, would undeniably require a large response, but I don't think it will get to that. They do seem very nice.

Does make a mother uptight though. We are asking a lot of them, and this is going to be a very tough term. One of the reasons I want to get a dog is because of this issue. Gives them some unconditional love. Hope the damn dog ends up nice. That would be awful wouldn't it, if the dog was unfriendly too.

It is so hard sending them off knowing that it is going to be difficult for them, although I have hopes that it will be OK. All they will need is one person, just one to be friendly and invite them to join in the play. It would make all the difference.

The elder one has always made friends quickly and easily, and she knows that this is not going to be the same. The younger is more reticent, and we'll see how she does. I imagine there will be many posts about this as we work our way though it. I have Catalan class on the evening of the first day of school. I am debating skipping, but I really want to go. I'll probably play it by ear.

On a brighter note....WE HAVE HEALTH CARDS AND A DOCTOR! YEAH! This was in fact rather a hassle, although resolvable in the end. It took quite a while for the papers from work to come in, and then we were told, by the school strangely enough, how to get the papers.

Just show up, no problem.

But the kids were in London, so we had to wait. Came back on the 30th, a weekend, then the Monday was a holiday for New Years, so in on the Tue to the medical center here. I am so impressed by them. This is a town of 6,000 or so. There is a hospital in the larger city about 5 km away, but we have our own medical center that is manned 24HOURS A DAY, 7 DAYS A WEEK!!!!! It is two blocks away. This is amazing. There is a doctor, a nurse and an administrator on duty all the time!

So in we go, getting the husband registered is a no brainer, he is Spanish and has a social insurance number. The kids and I. No. Not so easy. She thinks we may have to get a "llibre de familia" a family book, seems to include the marriage licence and birth certificates and other related legal documents of a nuclear family. They allow gay marriage here, so I assume they simply use the same document. That would be very interesting to find out. We managed to move from one of only five countries in the world that allows gay marriage, to another. I am pleased.

Anyway, we have to go into the big town to get the girls and I put on to my husband's card as beneficiaries. The feminist in me doesn't really like the taste of that. Apparently I cannot get a social insurance number until I get a job, and if I lose the job, I lose the number. No pension for me it seems. Even as an EU citizen. I am not getting too irritated about this, because it is entirely possible we have the information wrong. May become a Spanish citizen eventually if this goes on. I could next September.

Into town today, no wait, first the husband went to the justice of the peace yesterday and was told that it would take a couple of months to get this llibre de replicate forms we already have. *gritted teeth*

Into town today. Sit down in the waiting room of the social insurance office. We were number 121, it actually moved pretty fast. Then we get up to the desk. No the girls and I are not eligible yaddah yaddah yaddah..... this goes around and around, we are about to be signed up as refugees for access to the medical system. I must say the sound of that was a shock. I am not sure that Canadians qualify as refugees anywhere. It also made me realize how closely I identify myself as someone who is one of the haves. I'll need to ponder my way around that a little more closely. Didn't like thinking of myself and my kids as refugees. Nobody does I imagine.

Then we start filling in the forms. The husband pulls out his Spanish ID card, and all of a sudden it changes. OH. YOUR SPANISH!!! No problem. That was a relief, and the woman was VERY nice, both before and after the citizenship issue was dealt with. I have to say, the people I have dealt with here have been uniformly nice. In the real sense of the word. They try to help, they are kind and they work at making it all work. Gotta like it.

You all thought I was going to vent, and if I didn't have the cards in my wallet right now, after 24 hours work, I probably would be. It wasn't smooth, but it got done.

When we got back home the husband went to the medical center to get the cards, issued right there. Oh and they said that if anything happened while we were trying to sort this out, we weren't to worry, we had a Dr, and they would just admit anyone of us that was sick as my husband. How's that eh? Anyway, the husband goes off, comes back a while later, not done yet. Oh NOOOO now what? Turns out an emergency case had come in, and he volunteered to go back later. I had a card at this point but not the kids. When he went back around 6, he returned very shortly. Sinking feeling in my stomach again. But NO, (I am starting to really love all these Catalans we are dealing with) the lady at the medical center had filled out all the forms, made the cards, everything while she was waiting for him, all he had to do was sign, and go. They'll mail us the permanent cards soon.

I am absolutely massively impressed. NEVER could have been done so elegantly and pleasantly in Canada, and we speak the language there.


Beth said...

Oh, god, you've got me worrying about your kids at school. That's got to be one of the worst things about being a mother - sending them out in the world when you can't be there to protect them. Do let us know how it goes.
Good news that you didn't have to vent about paperwork, health cards, etc. - although I was looking forward to it. ;)

oreneta said...

Beth: Sorry about the vent...there were moments that would have been rich, but by the time I sat down to write, honesty compelled me....

Beth said...

I hate bullies. But you know what, you're gonna get them, no matter what country you're in. I'm sure that you kids will be able to handle it, cuz they have you for a mom!!!

and you're cracking me up, with the dog thing!!!!! It better be a nice dog!

this whole insurance thing is an eye opener....i learn so much from you!

oreneta said...

Beth: thank you so much for your kind comments. Any tips about picking a good dog at the pound? Is that you in the picture with the new cut? Looks good. Have to check your site.