For a long time I already had the wish to leave my daily life and normality for a time and get myself involved in a totally foreign culture, with other people, with a totally different life. I had already heard of Granny Aupair but still needed some time to get my teeth into the idea.
First I naturally had to talk with my husband if he would support the idea, if he had been totally against it, I would have cancelled the whole project - he was surprised but not against it. The only prerequisite was: Not longer than three months, but this had not been my intention anyway.
I contacted three families, always with the time factor in mind. My “Granny experience” was with a family in Abu Dhabi. I got to know “my family” per E-Mail and Skype We liked each other quite quickly and when the two little girls introduced me to their pets per skype the ice was broken.
End of February 2014 saw the start of my trip. The queasy feeling I had during the six-hour flight, left me very quickly when I was greeted by my host family at the airport with a welcome sign painted by the children.
I do not want to miss my time in Abu Dhabi with “my family” and my two lovely little girls. It was not hard for me to integrate myself into the family as both parents of the family welcomed me immediately as a matter of course. Already on my arrival at the airport I was able to answer the question whether I could bake the typical German “Vanillekipferl” biscuits, to general satisfaction. The Vanillekipferl were then part and parcel of every week and following my departure Dishani from Sri Lanka is responsible for baking them.
After school in the early afternoon, I was responsible for the children until the parents came home from work. I spoke German with the girls, played, supervised homework (in English) and sewed a leopard costume sewn for a school project. I really grew very fond of the two girls I still like to think back to the time with them.
When the children were at school, I had the opportunity to explore Abu Dhabi City by myself by bus or taxi and was overwhelmed by the sheer size, the architecture and the luxury in this desert emirate. Outside the family I had to speak English and that worked fantastically even though my English is far from perfect. I was also thrilled by the friendliness and helpfulness also of the locals.
At the weekends I joined the family at visits to their friends, visits to restaurants and there even was a weekend trip to a hotel in the desert, which was one of my absolute highlights during my stay in Abu Dhabi. In the truest sense of the word I was the temporary grandma, who joined in everywhere. I felt totally comfortable in my friendly and lovely host family.
I have to add that one should approach the Granny Aupair stay in an open and curious manner and with a willingness to become involved in whatever comes your way. It makes you more free, not fixated and it is more easy to accept unusual structures in the host family