Expat Blog Entry: Ten Words for Me Please?

Expat Blog Entry: Ten Words for Me Please?

Expat Blog Awards 2013 Contest Entry

I’ve entered this competition. I normally avoid them. They just make me stressed as I teeter between just letting things be and wanting to do everything possible to win.  That said, the prizes here are amazon vouchers. Why is that so special? Well in Thailand, imported English books are P-R-I-C-E-Y! And as a homeschooling mama, I am always in need of them. So since I regularly poor out my heart and words for you, I am asking you for just ten words in the comment box of my entry.

Also I’ve tried to keep it as short as possible and I hope it will make you laugh at least a little!

Thanks everyone!

A Week in the Life of a Multicultural Mom

EuropeanMama_all!I very excited to finally be back from the land of ZERO connectivity. Despite my much-needed break, I am catching up on loads of un-exciting parenting stuff and rather than bore you silly, risking the loss of your patronage forever, I am so grateful to European Mama for this hilarious tongue-in-cheek guest post she let me to snatch for my blog!

Global Children via Plushkies.

Global Children via Plushkies.

So, if you’re a parent, you’re bound to get conflicting advice. Even if you’re a multicultural parent, because no matter how good a parent you are, the French/Chinese/Dutch/whatever do it much better than you do. So, I tried to imagine how it would look like if I tried to take all these advice to heart? I made a plan. Every day of the week, I would parent like another culture, and see what happens. I will stick to the books, “Bringing Up Bebe”, “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”, and “The Continuum Concept”, and also this article.

Frenchday

So, I go French! I want to start my day with a nice warm coffee and croissants, but the children eat all my croissants before I can even slip into my role of a French mom, and the coffee gets cold before I even get to drink it. Slowly and hesitantly, I assume my role. I tell the children that from now on, we’re going to have a few rules. Such like: no snacking. Food will be served four times a day and not more. And that no actually means no. I take them to playground to practice to practice my “no” saying skills. I try it: in Polish, “nie!”, in German, “nein!”. It doesn’t work, so I try French, “non!”, and that doesn’t help, either. I try to give them the famous French “big eyes”, les grands yeux, but my children only look at me, think that their mom is actually a crazy person and start laughing so hard that they get a belly ache and start complaining. So we go home. They’re hungry and it’s one hour left till dinner! They’re crying from hunger but today I am a French woman and won’t let them do “n’importe quoi”. I am actually kind of lucky that this is French day because I get to pour myself a glass of red wine. And then another. And another. I am starting to panic because I have to prepare a 3 course dinner, and haven’t even started yet. So, another glass of wine it is. I realise that I haven’t gotten the ingredients, so we go to the store to get them. The children are super hungry but I just can’t give in! The trip to the store was traumatic and I’d just skip writing about it. I cook dinner which takes me another 2 hours, and by the time I’m done, the children are too hungry and tired to eat what I prepared: oysters! Frogs legs! Boeuf bourguignon! And cheese! They want me to cuddle with them when they go to bed but I calmly explain that they have to learn to be independent. So, another no it is. I am so tired after this day. I wish my father was here to make his famous crème caramel. I hope next day will be better.

Chineseday

I wake up my children in the morning, calling them lazy and bad people and what will they do without me. Uh Oh. This is not going well. They, of course, rebel against me, but I am a strong mom, a Tiger today. So I tell them that they will get no food if they don’t get up and dressed right now. This ends with everybody screaming and fighting and a scene so ugly that I won’t even describe it here. Let’s just move to dinner. I serve rice and Peking duck. I tell my children to set the table and criticise everything about the way they do it: not neatly folded, not symmetrical, not pretty enough. My children, they’re so lazy. After dinner, I make them practice the violin and the piano for 6 hours. It is true what Amy Chua says: the 5th hour is the worst, for everybody involved. But they can’t go to sleep until they’re done. I am so exhausted and pour myself some sake. I know that it’s not Chinese, but I don’t want to be so discriminating. I am off to bed.

Indigenousday/Kenyaday/Indiaday

I wake up on the floor in my bedroom. I decided to co-sleep today and the result was me falling from the bed. The baby wakes up, and of course, I feed him on demand. This is actually quite nice. Until I remember that I need to go diaper less. That changes the day to the worse, because while my big girl is pretty much potty trained, I have still two more to go. My little girl doesn’t run fast enough to make it to the potty, and the baby, well, he’s a baby. Which leaves me with lots of pee and poop, pretty much everywhere. I need some alcohol, but don’t know what kind. I decide on a shot (or two or three) of homemade nalewka. It’s homemade so it should do. I am busy the whole day: preventing poo tragedies, feeding them when they’re hungry (all.the.time), breastfeeding, baby-toddler-and pre-schooler-wearing. I don’t even have the time to meditate or smell the flowers or go outside to hug the trees. At the end of the day I am so tired I want to go to sleep. But I can’t because the children aren’t tired just yet. So I wait. And wait. And wait. In the end, we all fall asleep on the floor.

USday

So today I can be an American mom. This is harder than I thought because they have all these kinds of parenting methods: attachment parenting (which I pretty much went through yesterday) and there are free range parents and helicopter parents, and it’s so complicated and I only have a day for this! So, OK. Maybe I’ll be a helicopter parent for a while and then I’ll be a free range parent for the other half of the day. I follow my children everywhere. I always ask what they’re doing and why they’re doing them. I also decide to take this one step further and apply to University in their name, and started to look for jobs. I also constantly praise them for how clever, pretty, intelligent and funny they are. After few hours the children are more than annoyed with my constant putting my nose into their affairs (and the constant praise that goes with it) and want to play by themselves. So, OK I go free-range. The plan is, we go to the park, I leave and they go back home by themselves. Sounds easy! We get to the park. I explain that at 2 and 4 years old, they’re almost ready to go back home by themselves! I thought this was a great idea!  They didn’t. They started to cry and cling to me! And at home they couldn’t even wait for me to leave me alone! But I praise them for how well they’re doing and we go home. But I totally forgot about the cheerleading, and baby-genius enrichment classes! I need me some brownies. And a few hamburgers and fries! With ketchup! And pumpkin pie! Any alcohol? Well… maybe some Starbucks pumpkin latte would do? OK, we go to sleep.

Dutchday

OK, as you may know the Dutch are very focused on routines and order. So, I make a schedule for the day. 8:00- we get up. 8.30-9.00 – we eat breakfast. I feed the baby after that. 10.00-11.00 we go to the park. 12:00- we eat lunch, bread with cheese, ham and some tomato (in Dutch, they call it “broodje gezond, healthy bread, I am awesome!). We drink coffee, yes, the children as well, I just add milk to theirs. But wait, I am too late for shopping! What would the employees at my local Albert Heijn (that’s the biggest supermarket chain in the Netherlands) say if I show up too late for my shopping? OK, maybe it’s not that bad… what I’m 10 minutes too late? For shopping! Oh, no…I am so stressed at the supermarket that I buy a bottle of Jenever and some Heineken to help me with this. O, and some Belgian chocolate wouldn’t hurt either… or appelflaps and stroopwaffels, oh, and I totally forgot the apeltaart! I also smoke a joint. But wait, that’s not the time for eating sweets, not to mention the alcohol? Whatever, I eat them anyway. But then, I need to get right back on schedule. I nag the children to finish eating dinner so that they go to bed on time. This day reminds me why I hate schedules. We go to bed.

How good that it’s the weekend and I can go back to my usual parenting style, which is pretty much everything mixed up together. Of course, I didn’t do all the things described in this article (I do, however, have some homemade nalewka at home). And, in case you’re asking, I am not really making fun of other cultures. I am making fun of myself for having such a chaotic parenting method (meaning no method whatsoever). If you manage to parent like the French/Dutch/you name it and it works for you, more power to you. If you set out to do it and failed, don’t beat yourself up. You don’t need to follow one culture. You can make up your own parenting culture that fits your personality, personal beliefs and your children.

I Am Going to Sell My Eggs

Guest Post by Lynn, brilliant creator of The Diary of a Nomad Mom. She is wet-your-knickers funny and I am totally honored that she wanted to swap guest posts with me. You can also find brilliant ‘shorts’ like the one below on her Facebook page. Lynn and I decided to write about how we mothers try to make a buck without having to succumb to turning tricks…yet. You can check out mine on her blog here!

nomadmomdiary.com

Once upon a time I was flying up the career ladder. I worked 60 hours a week and made six figures. Shopping sprees galore, groceries from Whole Foods and dinner out whenever I wanted. Then my husband got offered a job in a foreign country. And we had a baby. And everything went to hell in a hand basket.

Four years ago we made our move with a 8 week old baby in tow. I lasted for two months as a stay at home mom before I started climbing the walls. I was sick of window-shopping with a baby carriage, I wanted the freedom to go back into the stores and use any dressing room I wanted. (Side note, how seriously freaking annoying are the hordes of teen girls who all pile into together into the one big dressing room? I know I am a lackadaisical parent at best, but even I hesitate to park the stroller in the common area of the dressing room. Move your skinny butts out of there already!)

My husband came home one evening to find me crying over the baby. It is amazing how quickly a nervous breakdown can make your husband find money in the budget for daycare. We signed up for one day a week and my adventures in money-hunting began.

What kind of start-up does a woman with zero creativity and no experience working for herself make? Apparently, a lot more than she ever envisioned. It took me six months to get the ball rolling, but I soon found myself overwhelmed with new business ideas. I buddied up with a creative friend and started a website. I wrote and wrote and wrote and earned nothing but pats on the back for my efforts. Nice, but those don’t buy the latest Prada sandals that I HAD to have.

Next we opened a photography studio, but without the studio. We bought collapsible backdrops and lights and marketed ourselves as traveling family photographers. We booked in all of my friends and soon had a nice little (emphasis on the word little) income stream. We paid off the equipment and eventually earned enough for the shoes.

Emboldened by our success, I began dreaming up more and more ideas and that were further and further from reality. Like my idea for a waterproof kid’s clothing line that would keep the dribbles from soaking through. Purchased: one sewing machine and vast amounts of cloth samples. End result: new curtains for my business partner’s baby room and a bag of cloth shoved in the back of my attic .

Somehow I eventually managed to bring in a few thousand euros by whoring out my marketing talents and writing skills for fractions of what I used to make. I ended up older and more bitter and even further from the shopping sprees I had envisioned. What good is it if you can afford the Prada shoes when you realize that you have to work 200 hours to pay for them?

So now I write this blog in the hopes that someday, someone will stumble across it and think “this woman is a genius” and will shower me with money, book and movie deals. Until then I have finally come up with a guaranteed way to earn more money. I am going to sell my eggs. I figure as long as no one looks closely at my kids and I run a strict no refunds policy, I’ll be doing just fine.

Shit, I said it again.

via http://newlifeinvermont.com/2013/01/10/potty-mouth-mommy/

My first daughter SweetPea was a very late talker, and this gave me ample space to learn to curb my potty mouth. In my defense, I worked first with sailors and then with a journalist; both seemed to embrace the abundant use of expletives on a daily basis.

Say what you want about how you wouldn’t have fallen prey, stick a person in a room for a week with an up-talking teenager or former valley-girl, and I assure you they will be infected by these atrocious and highly contagious conditions. Swearing is no different.

Pea, who is all of four-and-a-half, never went through the parroting phase most kids go through or at least not in a significant way. This meant that if my husband or I did slip up, we were at a very low risk of having her repeat it. Unlike a friend of mine with two- year-old-twins who, upon moving to Brooklyn and trying to make their way off the Brooklyn Bridge, missed the exit and swore loudly. I’ll never forget his description of the moment where time slows and you think you may have gotten away with your transgression. Reality snapped him back when seconds later, a duet of curses launched on a repeat loop from the two backseat boosters.

Little Plum, my second, was a precocious talker. She started early, in full sentences and quickly moved to parroting comfortably in any language she hears. I always figured I’d get myself into a pickle at some point, but I assumed it would be with her. Turns out she wasn’t the witness but the cause of sorts.

Sometime before Christmas, I managed to say ‘oh shit’ twice in 24 hours.  And to clarify by twice, I mean in two instances but the actual phrase was repeated high-capacity style if you know what I mean. I realise that sounds unthinkable. but the first time at least, I feel I had just cause. Plum, who was all of two, had locked herself in her room in our new house. I was still waiting on a complete set of keys to all the doors, which I’ll have you know I requested prior to signing the lease as I am blessed with the gift of foresight or, is cursed with the knowledge that inevitably what can go wrong will go wrong. Either way, I perched on the terrace, outside her safety-grilled windows; frantically dialing our landlord with one hand, while pushing my hand up against the mosquito screen through the bars to sooth my little naked and distressed inmate.

I was completely freaking out at the time and regretted as soon as I said it. I, like my friend, had a slo-mo moment where I thought I’d narrowly escaped but no such luck. SweetPea started repeating it, less out of curiosity and more of solidarity given my state of high anxiety. I quickly turned to her and trying to compose myself, explained:

‘oh Maman shouldn’t have said that, it is a bad word’

And nothing more was said by anyone…until later that night.

Come evening, I was tired both physically and emotionally and decided to allow myself a glass of wine a little earlier that usual. Ok yes, I’ll admit it was still daylight out.  As I tried to pour a glass, I lost control of the plastic knob and ended up spilling most of the contents on the floor. Unbelievably, I said it again! In front of Pea, again. She was now looking at me slightly perplexed.

Again, I found myself explaining why Maman shouldn’t have said it. but this time she wasn’t buying my story and the urge was simply too strong. She started repeating it, trying it out in different sentences. It wasn’t in a taunting fashion but just as a ‘oh so you shouldn’t say this word sort of thing but why not. I may not be able to get my hands on mommy juice or high shoes in my size but this I can control.’ At least that is how I perceived her line of thinking.

In the end I went to my ‘go-to’ rectifying which was “Santa Claus will be very unhappy with me, and I probably won’t get any presents. I must not say that, and people don’t appreciate little girls who use bad words” etc…

Pea, being the kind and generous-hearted kid that she is, told me she would be happy to share or even give me the gifts Santa brings her and not to worry. She also suggested I say “oh dear” instead, next time.

Now if only I could get Little Plum to stop using the French word for ‘seal’ or ‘phoque’ when she is talking about animals in English!