Children are a great barometer of a person’s likability, especially with something like a language barrier.
We recently had the pleasure of spending some time with my sister-in-law’s mother, Paw Paw- I think it means grandmother in Manduran-, who happens to be right off the
boat plane from Hong Kong and only speaks un poco English. Just about my entire life has been spent in a predominantly English speaking setting, a week in Puerto Vallarta being the only exception, so this would be a new experience for me.
The initial introduction went as well as can be expected; she smiled, my wife and I smiled, and the kids hid behind us. Then, I think I might have said something like welcome, nice to meet you, or would you like some cheese. I don’t remember what exactly, but I’m sure it was just gibberish to the nice woman.
The kids avoidance of this woman lasted less than ten minutes and then they were all over her. It seemed like our soon-to-be four-year-old understood that her new found friend couldn’t speak English because she and her little brother decided to use the photographs as flash cards. The woman was inundated with “Daddy”s, “Mommy”s, “Papa”s,”Grammie”s, and “Fred Willard“s. I’m not sure why my wife had all those pictures of Mr. Willard; I thought she was more of a Martin Mull fan.
The most amazing and amusing thing I witnessed during this experience was something my little boy did. We decided to read both kids a bedtime story downstairs where everyone was instead of upstairs with just our nuclear family like we do at home, minus the dog, and it kind of blew up in our faces. All the extra activity helped the usually captive audience lose interest in the story quickly. First, our daughter drifted away toward her Aunt and then our son followed his big sister’s lead and wrestled his way off of my lap. Because our listeners abandoned us, we stopped reading Good Night Pillow Fight half way through. That’s when my two-year-old little boy grabbed the book out of my hands and brought it over to Paw Paw and wanted her to read it to him. She looked stunned. I’m sure she must have been thinking what do you want me to do with this nonsense. The best part was that he kept returning the book back on her lap after she would set it aside. It was his way of “insisting” that she read to him. I didn’t know how to break it to him that there was no way for him to win this time. Fortunately he eventually gave up on his own and we all shook our heads and laughed.
The boy obviously didn’t take the book snub personally, because he spent a lot more time “conversing” with the nice woman that only speaks a little English. Our daughter enjoyed her time spent with Paw Paw just as much and never once seemed to care that the adult couldn’t speak her language. It’s probably very similar to when she hangs out with her brother who just started speaking somewhat recently and she always seems to know what he said. Because of this we learned that the boy is generous to a fault, because through her interpretations he always tells us to give his toys or cookies to his sister. I guess we’re just fortunate that she’s around to help.
As I’ve mentioned, we have some houseguests at the moment. Yes, they are still here. Aunt Weather and Uncle Gadget thoughtfully decided to cook us dinner yesterday. I thought that it was a great idea because she cooks a mean breakfast on occasion and I figured she’d be good at a dinner, too.
The chefs in question are independent thinkers that decided not to wait on an answer to where the flour is located in the kitchen so they found “it” themselves. They were at the stove for quite a while before it came about that we were almost out of flour. After a few follow-up questions my wife figured out that they never opened the container of flour, so there was plenty of flour left.
Confusion spread across their faces and ours. They insisted that they used flour and a lot of it. We knew they couldn’t have because we only keep it in one place on the counter top and they insisted that wasn’t where they found it.
I guess confectionary sugar resembles flour enough that they mistakenly used that instead. I’ve only heard of this happening once before and that person says it wasn’t her fault… and I’m not talking about my wife, but the woman in question is related to her.
Surprisingly, the orange chicken delight was good, but I wouldn’t put it on my French toast.
It’s ironic that I have the most time to myself right now while we have numerous house guests in our humble abode. There are literally hundreds of souls wandering around the kitchen as I type. Okay, there are really about four extra people here and most of them are in the living room. Because of this I don’t have to change all the diapers, prepare all the daytime meals and entertain all (both) of the kids like a typical weekday. Picture me in Mary Poppins mode dressed like a French maid running around the house. I’m sorry for that, forget the Mary Poppins mode, I’m not that good.
I should be relaxing, but I have a tendency to micromanage most of the mundane chores around the house. I find myself rearranging the dishwasher, insisting on cleaning up and supervising my kids’ meals. I just told Uncle NJ where to put a puzzle together with my daughter. What the *^%# is wrong with me?
No matter how crowded the house is you can shoot a cannon through it when the little guy’s wandering around with a foul odor eminating from his Pamper’s Cruiser. Too bad we can’t enforce the old adage whoever smelt it dealt it and just replace dealt it with changes it. It’s not as catchy, but could be effective.
I enjoy having people around so much that it makes me think we should have more than two children. I think my wife just fell out of her chair. Two will do is the motto that I’m going to stick to unless I slip one past the goalie, of course. That’s not too much of a worry because the goalie’s wearing very large pads and I’m a pretty bad shot.
Having my in-laws around 24/7 gives me a glimpse of what it must have been like growing up in my wife’s house. All the siblings regress back to their childhood personalities when some sort of adversity rears its ugly head. You know, if one of them moved the other’s glass of juice or tampon. Just kidding, they don’t drink juice. They don’t really argue much, it’s more like a drive-by put down; a couple of quick shots are fired and they let someone else deal with the carnage.
I kid them because I’m probably the hardest person to deal with during their stay. No matter how much I try to change, my inner anal-retentive personality pops out every once in a while or quite often depending on who you’re talking to.
All that said, I do enjoy having them around and my kids are ecstatic about it. I can’t wait until next weekend because we’ll all be staying at Uncle and Aunt NJ’s house where I can just fade into the background and laugh my ass off.