Friday, September 29, 2023

18 today

So my boy is 18 today, except he isn't really! He was born at 23:45 on 29/09/05 in the Queen Mother's Maternity hospital in Glasgow, Scotland, so given he now lives in Denmark, although on his birth certificate his birthday is still September 29, if he wants to raise a glass at the moment of his birth, he now needs to wait till 00:45 on September 30! 

I guess in a way it is a metaphor for the complicated path his life has taken till now. He was born after my marriage to his father died. French by birth, he was brought up from the age of one by a Dane so even before we moved to Denmark, his Danish was better than his French. Now we live here and have done for 4.5 years, he is what a truly bilingual person looks like. He's not just good at both Danish and English, he is native in both now.

He's a Dane living in Denmark, but not eligible for Danish citizenship, at least not until he's sat a whole host of qualifying exams about Danish language and culture, despite having studied till 19 at a Danish STX (the highest level of Grammar school). When he leaves school next year many of his mates want to do a gap year travelling, but Léon can't as he's on the kind of residence permit that doesn't allow you to leave the country for more than six months without losing your right to be here. 

To be Danish he needs to work a minimum of 4.5 years full-time before he can apply, but for some crazy reason university doesn't count towards that goal so whereas he could become Danish 5 years from now if he doesn't go to uni, he has to wait nearly 10 years if he does, as the degree will take 5 years before he can begin the compulsory 4.5 years of work. It's so unfair given he feels every bit as Danish as his two Danish passport-holder sisters. He will have lived in Denmark nearly 15 years before he can apply to be a citizen at the age of 28 and he will have been brought up by a Dane since before his first birthday. He will have called a Dane Dad for more than 27 years before he can apply. 

It is almost as if the government is encouraging foreign-born kids, however bright, not to go into further education. Why penalise someone for wanting to be say a doctor, and encourage them to go work full-time in the local supermarket instead? I thought Denmark prided itself on the level of education given to its young people and I also thought it needed more doctors than it needs unqualified supermarket workers.

Anyway, however long it takes, I have no doubt he will one day qualify for a Danish passport. I just wish he got to celebrate his coming of age in a more equal manner with his peers.

Happy birthday Léon!

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