My wife and I are expecting our second (and final) child this June. The prospect of raising two boys in America is both wonderful and terrifying. You see, we’re worried about raising our children in a country whose values are so far afield from many of our own. Particularly, we’d prefer not to raise our boys in a country that continues to worship the car and refuses to build proper mass transportation and infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists (i.e. children).
American children get access to cars at the age of fifteen, which is quite insane. While the historical origins of this unusually low driving age are based in our agrarian past, it is now used to help prop up the suburban lifestyle. Many families can’t wait until their children reach driving age so that they can be freed of the burden of ferrying their kids around a low density suburban wasteland.
Further complicating matters is the American obsession with restricting alcohol from its citizens until the age of twenty-one. In theory, a law abiding child will have several years of driving experience and a university degree before they touch a glass of wine or beer. In practice, we have created a culture where kids are drinking and driving in their high school years. This unfortunate concoction of misguided laws and ignorance of human nature results in untold thousands of teens dying in alcohol and automobile related accidents per year.
In sharp contrast to the American model, Germanic kids experiment with alcohol much earlier in life and get the “crazies” out of their system long before a driver’s license is a possibility. In most cases northern European teens live in a much more densely populated environment where walking, biking, and mass transit opportunities abound. Very few of them are dependent on their parents for mobility. Even if a Germanic teen overdoes things with drink, it’s very unlikely that anything short of a hangover will be the result (since binge drinking is also quite frowned on). The chance of drunken kids then getting into a car and killing themselves is effectively zero, since they don’t have to drive to a remote cornfield to drink and fornicate in peace.
One of my heroes, David Hembrow, had similar thoughts as his children came of age in the UK. Fortunately for him, he already lived in a European Union nation so moving to the mainland was reasonably straight forward. We yanks have a steeper hill to climb. A whole rash of labor protection laws get in the way and make it quite difficult.
In the hope that somebody with “connections” might read my ramblings, here is the brief Salyards’ resume for relocation back to the old country:
Me: IT Professional with 10+ years experience in strategic labor outsourcing (particularly in India), project management, and business analysis for a major US retailer. German fluency (rusty due to lack of use but it shall return). Lived in Oldenburg Germany as an exchange student (Austauschschüler) for one year a long time ago (where I fell in love with Dutch bikes). I am an avid biker and experienced fencer.
My Wife: IT professional with 10+ years experience in solution architecture design, management, systems analysis and project management. Mother born in Germany from an American soldier (who flew the coup) and a Ukrainian “Ostarbeiter.” Tall, blonde, ethnically German. Taking steps to learn German language. Loves good cheese, bread, and organic/local produce.
Son: Super cute three- year old with good experience in traveling by bicycle with daddy. Kids are sponges. No worries.
Unborn son: We shall see.
Dog: English Springer Spaniel named “Winston.” Great dog who is current on all of his shots.
We’d prefer to move to a city in Northern Germany or the Netherlands. Bike infrastructure should be okay or great. Oldenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Hannover, etc, all sounds quite pleasant. The Netherlands will work as well, though we’d need to learn Dutch (which is an odd goal I’ve had for many years anyhow).
We’re wondering whether or not we can claim asylum from the United States since they want to subject our children to a dangerous lifestyle of poison-spewing cars, foreign wars (fearing for the lives of my male offspring), and genetically modified food :)
If anybody has the connections to aid us in our escape from the English speaking world, where we can live car free, please contact us immediately.
No, this is not a joke.