Posts Tagged ‘social’

I thought I could escape her but alas, my time has come. Like a German-speaking Grim Reaper, the Swiss cold germs have attacked my throat, nose and lungs. Jack has quickly followed suit and Liam has spent the last two days in and out of consciousness with a mild fever.

One of my absolute pet peeves of FB (and there are many) is when people put their status update as “so-and-so…is sick”. I can’t possibly think of a more mundane status update short of “so-and-so…is folding laundry”. But this morning, as I woke up coughing and hacking (a sight for sore eyes I’m sure!), I had the impulse to do exactly that. “Natasha D…is sick.” Ack! I was horrified that the thought even crossed my mind. That I would even be tempted! I finally understood why people write that nonsense of a status update…because when you feel this way, you want to broadcast it to the whole world so that they can all feel sorry for you. The unfortunate thing is, as you know from the many times you’ve come across one of those updates, nobody actually cares. Truth be told, most of your “Friends” wouldn’t stop to say hi on the street so I’m pretty sure they aren’t losing sleep over your condition. In fact, they’re a little peeved that you just wasted 5 seconds of their life in reading a pointless status update.

Although feeling like a sack of Nickelodeon’s green goo, I decided that the boys and I should at least try to venture out of the house and take advantage of the beautiful sunny weather we’re having this week. I swapped my comfy pajamas for my most comfy ripped jeans and a Lulu Lemon hoody. It was the first time I’ve ventured out in what they would probably consider painting clothes. No, I take that back. The girls here probably paint in fashion tights and a baggy t-shirt accented by a big over-sized belt. I’m sure of it.

The boys and I hopped on a tram to a great big park down the road from us and much to my surprise, it was packed with English-speaking mom’s and their bilingual children. This is the equivalent of hitting the jackpot. In the three weeks we’ve been here, I’ve yet to hear any mom speak English to their child…which extremely limits the possibility of actually making friends.

There was only one problem. I was not in any shape to be hit on.

You see, making new girlfriends is very similar to being on the single scene. Really, it is. You’ve got these women, who are all very content with their existing lives and for them to go out of their way and befriend you would be a major step out of their comfort zone. You’ve got to be desirable, intriguing and able to offer them something they can’t get anywhere else.

It reminds me of a day when I was at the park with the boys a few months ago. I got to chatting with a nice woman and at the end of our brief conversation, she flat-out asked for my phone number. Now, after so many years in Victoria, the boys and I have more friends than we can actually keep up with. We’re not really on the hunt for new ones, as nice as they may be. But as I dissected it later, I realized that I was intrigued by this girl and downright flattered by her request because she was, quite simply, cooler than me. Her hair, her clothes, her car…all cooler. Looking back now, it’s sad to think of it like this because she really is an awesome girl. It would have been a shame to miss that had she been having an “off” day and decided to, God forbid, wear sweatpants to the park that day. Seems absolutely ridiculous when you type it out (and uh…she reads it) but if I have stumbled upon a universal mom truth, how could I expect to “pick up” another mommy when I have what appears to be radioactive matter flowing from my nostrils and a wardrobe that to this European crowd resembles the local street bum?

Not good.

Note to self: Next time you head to the playground, be sure you’re lookin’ fierce.


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In our apartment building, we are on what they call “Erdgeschoss” or EG (ground level).  The “first floor” is actually one flight of stairs up — what North Americans would consider the second floor.  And basement floors are never considered “1” like they may be in North America. That’s called “Untergeschoss”, or UG.  I know, right? Try finding your way around a five floor department store when the directory is all in German and there are more letters than numbers on the elevator button panel. I think the boys and I spent twenty minutes just trying to find the bathroom…oh, and that’s called the WC, just to keep the acronym party hoppin’.

Living above us on the, yep…you got it, first floor, is a German-speaking widow named Silvia.  We’ve briefly passed in the hallway a few times and she seems very nice…although I presume anyone would appear nice when Charades is your primary mode of communication.  Earlier this week, we saw each other at the front gate outside and she spent some time playing with the boys.  In a conversation that resembled something between monkey sign-language and Piglatin, Silvia asked me how old the boys were, I said they just turned four this month and she commented that her birthday is also in October, the very next day in fact.  Before I could even think about how I was going to ask her what she was doing for her birthday, she explained that her husband died two years ago of a sudden heart failure during a routine operation after 40 years of marriage (yeah…you don’t even want to know how we got that out of charades), and that birthdays just aren’t the same without him.  She said they never had children and she has no family. I started getting teary just listening to her try and explain something so seriously painful in such basic English. Her eyes were watery when she went on to explain that that is why she was so happy to have us move in…because the boys bring “joy into her soul”. Wow. Something like that makes you feel really small and selfish.

The next day came and I knew we had to do something for her birthday. The boys made a German birthday card (with a little help from our good friend, Google Translator) and I baked a chocolate fudge cake.  With goodies in hand, we marched upstairs to have a party. Jack was a little disappointed at the lack of birthday hats and presents but still did a fantastic job of leading us in a loud and boisterous Happy Birthday as soon as the door opened. At least until the second line of the song, which is precisely when he realized that he was the only one really singing.

Silvia invited us in right away and the boys immediately snooped through every room on the hunt for toys. Imagine their surprise when they found a Nintendo Game Cube tucked under a coffee table in a livingroom full of tchotchkes. I was giggling at the thought of this 60-year-old lady playing a Nintendo Game Cube when my eyes caught a glimpse of a Super Nintendo beside it. And then a Nintendo 64 in behind that!  Just when I was trying to shut out thoughts of comparing this little old lady to a pre-pubescent video game addict, she caught the boys’ excitement over the game consoles and rushed out of the room. A moment later she was back with a Nintendo Wii in hand!  The boys were in gamer heaven.

As J&L maneuvered through a round of German Zelda, Silvia and I conversed over espresso, my wirelessly connected laptop acting as translator between us.  After one too many pieces of chocolate cake, the boys and I started to pack up while she started yammering away in German and looking around the room for something.  She eventually settled on a plastic bag and disappeared into the livingroom. You could have given me a hundred guesses and I’m not sure I would have even come close to figuring out what she was doing with that bag.  As it turns out, she came back with the Nintendo Wii bundled up and handed it to me while going on in German (apparently, 2 hours of struggling through Google Translate wasn’t enough to convince her that I don’t speak a lick of German).  Even now, I have absolutely no idea if she was lending it or giving it to us but we’re going to err on the side of caution and assume she’s lending it.

Although playdates with 60-year-old German widows is nothing short of riveting, the boys started showing some real signs of needing friends here in the “new country”. I thought they were handling it all very well until the other day when Jack suggested that we “go knock on some doors and see if there are any boys there”.  Then yesterday we were walking past a little boy around their age and Liam said “maybe that boy will be Jack & Liam’s friend!”.  I promptly scoured the internet for playgroups and kindergyms, finding an English-speaking support network with a playgroup for today.  We spent all afternoon running, dancing, playing and doing crafts with other English-speaking kids. The moms there were all extremely nice and it seemed too good to be true…is it that easy to meet new friends?

And then the bubble burst. While packing up to leave, I heard the most awful thing.

Coordinator to her husband: “his Crocs are inside your Crocs”.

Oh no you didn’t!!!  Can I really be friends with someone who not only wears those monstrosities but then subjects their innocent child to a pair, as well?

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