Monday, October 20, 2008

Lost in Translation

My husband speaks Swedish with our boys, but when his parents visit, there are actual adult conversations going on. If what’s being said is one sentence like “Let’s change your diaper” or “Let’s build a train set,” I feel pretty good about my Swedish comprehension because I know what’s being said. When the discussion deviates to emotions, verbs, or anything above a two-year-old’s vocabulary, I become a bit lost.

I don’t like to tell people I attended adult ed night classes for five years to learn Swedish. They might expect something from me. Like being able to understand the language.

On a recent visit, my mother-in-law and eldest son Lucas were having a fun time playing hide and seek in our house. The noise of their laughter played in the background while I savored a rare moment of daytime book reading (The Italian Affair if you must know.) When Lucas jumped out and found my mother-in-law, she gasped and exclaimed, “Du hittade mej!” (My translation: “You hit me!”)

She seemed shocked.

I was also shocked, that was not something my son normally did. Now, I hadn’t seen it happen of course, but I heard what my mother-in-law had said. She didn’t seem to be reacting much, so I marched in there and told Lucas in a stern voice that it is not OK to hit Farmor.

Everyone stopped and looked at me as if I’d lost my mind.

It was then that I conveniently remembered that “hittade” means found, not hit. She had been feigning surprise saying, “You found me!”

I apologized to Lucas who looked more confused than anything else. In fact, I think he was amused that Mommy had made a minor fool of herself.

No major harm done, I humbly accepted my lesson: when translating on my own, it’s probably best to fact-check before reprimanding. Actually, that might be a good lesson regardless of the language being spoken.

Now when the kids get older and it come to Swedish curse words, well, I’ll be blissfully clueless.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Wanna Ride?

After a local community meeting, a fellow member asked if I could give her a ride home. As we walked to the car, we spoke mama stats: she had two boys, five and eight years old. I belong to the boy club as well, ages two and four.

I always feel a bond with other mothers of boys. I asked how the five and eight-year-old stage is. The prognosis was good. I like it when people with kids older than mine say it gets better. I dislike those people that tell you it's still hard, just different. I don't mind if you lie to me, just tell me it gets better and easier, please!

As we get to my car, she says, "Cute!" as I have a butterfly pasted on the butt of the car. But as I look in the passenger seat, I realize there is a few days' worth accumulation of definitely not cute stuff. I know she's a mom, so I remind myself not to worry too much, but I tell her it's going to take a while to clear the seat so she can actually sit on it, hopefully finding a place for her feet as well.

I take off the first layer - everything we needed for a dinner at our favorite Thai food restaurant that night. A cooler-type bag of supplemental dinner options for the kids, two jackets of mine, one for each of the kids. I throw them into the back. The next layer was from my art class the day prior -- paper bags laid out to protect the seats from wet paint and a box of art supplies. They find their spot, sitting in the empty car seats in the back.

I'm finally down to the final layer. This was from three days prior when I got to my son's preschool in the morning and realized it was freezing cold and wet, and my son was in a short-sleeved shirt. This fact should have been noticed before we left the house, but somehow escaped my mommy radar until that moment. So I emptied the diaper bag, which had been recently organized, and pulled out all the extra clothes until I found a long-sleeved shirt for him to wear, pulling it over his head and finished dressing him in the parking lot.

As I tossed back the tighty whities (thankfully clean, these were from the spare clothes) of my four-year-old, along with unused diapers, jeans, shirts, and socks, she said honestly, "I guess you don't drive with other people very often."

I laughed. "Only my kids."

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Top 10 Signs You Need to Attend Book-Buying Anonymous (BBA)

10. Every time you see an author talk, you promise yourself you will not buy their book. Even if the book is about worm cultivation in Zimbabwe, you walk away with a signed book.

9. When life finds you down, you turn to book buying. (Note: this is different than book reading, which you have little time for.) But who can resist buying Money, and the Law of Attraction on a day when the stock market dips over 700 points?

8. You borrow books on CD from the library, but then buy the same books in print so you can highlight your favorite quotes. Example: Anne Lamott’s Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith.

7. You promise yourself to use the library more, but can’t wait for others to get their fix before getting yours.

6. You spread out your book purchases between different stores so that there is not an obvious large charge on the credit card to alert your spouse.

5. Sometimes you pay cash to reduce the paper trail even further.

4. You confess your addiction to the people working at bookstores as you know their answer will be an enabling message of, “There could be worse addictions,” or “I have the same one, that’s why I work here!”

3. You refuse to do the math of how long it would take to actually read all the unread books you own. (In recovery terminology, this is called Denial with a capital “D.”)

2. When your mom comes to visit, she firmly tells you that you can’t buy any more books until you have more bookcases.

1. You buy more bookcases.

* Disclaimer: this blog was written hypothetically. This in no way resembles me, my family, or anyone I’ve ever known. The local chapter of BBA meets Sunday evenings in the multi-purpose room of the All Saints Lutheran Church. Bring cookies.