I’ve Been Cursing Like a Sailor
It was a simple statement–printed in black and white on a dittoed handout with several points to consider for those of us wanting to study abroad. I no longer remember the exact wording (from my sophomore year in college) but it went something like this:
“It is a common mistake to think that going abroad will serve as an escape from any current problems that you face. In reality, due to total separation from your support network and all that is familiar, when you live abroad any issues and challenges that you currently face will be greatly magnified.” In other words, don’t go overseas in order to hide from reality–your problems won’t just follow you, they’ll blow up before your very eyes.
I don’t think statements such as the above–albeit true from my experience–should stop any family in a solid time of their lives from jetting themselves overseas. That being said, consider yourself warned.
Each and every shrill scream that can be heard from your child’s mouth when she is angry, the “cute” tendency to knock things over and act like a lummox in a china shop, the frustrating tenacity with which he is able to continually request something to drink, rapid-fire for two-minutes straight, while you dig into your purse to find the water bottle will go–once you land on the European continent–from dwelling at the level of partially manageable to driving you totally insane.
For this reason (and this reason alone, naturally), I’ve been shuttling through every explicative known to man–and every creative dumbed-down version that I can think of–since we arrived in France. Sometimes in my head, occasionally to the side of my head (i.e., under my breath), and whoops, sometimes just loud enough that it is not totally clear whether the children have heard my exclamation of “fu-dge.”
It’s not their fault really. If I hadn’t indulged my gluten- and sugar-senstive self in that mousse au chocolat or that–oh God it was delicious if ridiculous–camembert pizza, then I would have oh so much more patience than I do today. If my body weren’t still trying to recalibrate itself to 6 hours earlier of sleeping and waking than it’s used to, I’m sure that I would have all the equanimity I needed to deal with the fact that Robert followed dinner’s Act I of knocking his water-wine glass to the pavement (with the waiter, the broom and the dustpan serving as the chorus) with Act II of sending the bottle of olive oil crashing and breaking to the pavement as well.
What’s more, I’d be able to bear the embarrassment of hearing the neighbors close their windows in the middle of the night to Avery’s shrill cries and screams of “MOMMY – I CAN’T FIND MY BUNNY!!!!” I wouldn’t mind either that Robert shouts “AVERY, LOOK AT THIS” so loud each time we are in public that there’s no doubt why the locals jerk their heads toward us in realization that we are not just tourists but foreigners. Nothing like being outed for the the day.
But alas, I can’t. I can’t say no to drinking wine on the beach (a visitor’s adaptation of local culture, perhaps), biting into a soft baguette, or crunching into a deceivingly simple but delicious sesame biscuit–half cookie, half cracker. Gluten and sugar, come and get me. I’m far from cultural proficiency and steeped deep in the shock of store clerks who herd people to the door ten minutes before closing time (note to self: remember to weigh and tag your own produce before checkout). But I’m loving every minute of it.
So the kids will just have to get used to me turning my head with a cough and a muted expletive until our bodies get this all worked out and we feel like ourselves again. And if such a moment of normalcy shall not arrive, that will be okay too.
We will be going back to the United States eventually.