Sunday, June 12, 2011

Foreign Languages?

When I was in high school I took two years of French. It was either that or Spanish and I thought French a more romantic language. Also my friends were all taking French so I figured if I had trouble they could help me. Now more than two decades later I only remember how to ask if someone speaks French and how to introduce myself. If I ever go to France I'll have to dehydrate myself because I will have no way of asking where the restroom is.

My oldest child is taking Spanish. The first grading period she did better in Spanish than she did in her English class. I found this quite amusing as English is our native language. I joked about this for quite some time. Now the two grades are right in line with each other. I feel a bit better about it. I might mention that we encouraged her to take the class so she could order for us at the Mexican restaurant. We thought it would be a good idea after our son who is eight once asked us if the people working there were really Mexican or if they were just pretending to be like we pretend to be British at home.

We are quite fascinated with languages around here. Sometimes we try to speak with a British accent, sometimes Irish, sometimes Jamaican. So it shouldn't come as a surprise to me that apparently sometimes I speak Dutch. The thing with this is that I don't even realize I'm doing it. I don't even think I know what a Dutch accent would sound like. I have no idea how they speak. But apparently without knowing it I speak it to my children. This can be the only explanation really.

I first noticed this when they were younger and I would discipline them. I would be trying to talk to them and they would be looking at me like I had just dropped from the moon. They seemed to be trying to figure out what I was saying. Then as they got older I noticed it when I would ask them to do something. Again with the blank stare and the look of complete bewilderment. Then it occurred to me... they must not be able to understand what I'm saying. I mean I was pretty sure I was speaking English, which as stated before IS our native language. They are old enough to know most if not all of the words I was using. So apparently I wasn't speaking English.

I was talking about this to a friend of mine and she said that she had encountered the same type of thing with her children. Then she mentioned that she asked them if they understood what she was saying. If what was coming out of her mouth was English or if in fact she had broken out into Dutch. We established that apparently we both know Dutch and break out into it frequently without even knowing it. It's the only explanation as to why at times our children don't seem to compute what is being said to them, even though they are looking directly at us.

I have to say that I was quite relieved when I realized the problem. I still only hear English coming out of my mouth when I speak, unless I am trying to impress them with the very little amount of French I still remember. But I have hopes that one day they will record what I'm saying when I do apparently break out into Dutch so I too can enjoy the accent.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A/C or Automatic Comfort?

All my life I thought that A/C stood for air conditioning. I no longer believe that to be true. Although there was a time when I would have thought that A/C stood for A.C. Slater from Saved by the Bell, those days are gone too. No I believe that A/C stands for automatic comfort.

In the last week the temperatures outside were well into the nineties. We noticed the first time we tried to turn on the central air that it wasn't cooling the air. We called and waited a week for someone to make it out to the house to take a look. Meanwhile the temperature inside rose with the temperature outside. My thermostat inside only goes up to ninety. It was straining at the top. We had purchased 10 inch box fans for each of the children to have by their bedside. We had the larger fan in our room. Reason being there are two of us in our room and only one of them in their rooms. Then a friend brought us by another fan which went into our room. Again two of us and only one of them per room. Plus they would have all fought over who got the bigger fan.

I started envisioning us as Pioneers. While I do know that there are people all over the world who do not have air conditioning we have been blessed with it for quite some time. I thought about how if we were brave enough we could sleep outside in the open. We aren't quite that brave. I then decided that if we wouldn't be able to get our unit replaced we would have to get creative to keep cool this summer. I thought perhaps we could keep large towels icy cold in a cooler and walk around in those all day. No one come to our house anyway, so no one would see us. My husband didn't think this bit of genius I came up with would work. First they would get quite drippy and could warp the hard wood floors. Also he didn't seem to think anyone would be allowed to sit on the furniture for fear of ruining that too.

It then occurred to me that perhaps it wouldn't be so bad having the house so hot. It could be like our very own sauna. I need to lose a few pounds anyway. We could see if one could sweat off the pounds by merely sitting in an overheated house. But I worried about our girls. They spend a great deal of their time locked in their rooms. It's very hot upstairs what if they sweated themselves into nothingness? We would never see them then. That wouldn't be good. I thought perhaps we could keep buckets by the door and when company came they could bring their own ice and sit in ice buckets to keep cool.

Our beds didn't get too messed up during this period of time as everyone was either too hot or too tired from the heat to move around much. Maybe it was the heat but I found the entire thing absolutely hilarious. I couldn't help but laugh. I mean sure the entire thing was frustrating and everyone was a bit on edge but it was still a bit funny to me. I spend the entire winter cold. My hands are cold, my feet are cold and although our heat does work, I am usually under a blanket. One of the perks (and there are many) of being married to my husband is that he is warm blooded. He is often warm and doesn't mind my cold hands and feet as it cools him off and warms me at the same time. The poor man was miserable in the heat of our upstairs bedroom.

On our last night before the air conditioning unit was replaced it was quite hot that day and my son had baseball practice. I was in the house awaiting the time when we would leave to go out to dinner, when I felt as if I was possibly so hot I was boiling from the inside out. I went and put my suit on and jumped in the pool. I believe that steam rose from the water. We then went out to dinner in an air conditioned restaurant. To top it off we had ice cream. That evening we had to get a bit creative with sleeping arrangements. Our son slept in our room on the floor with the big fans. The girls shared a room and had all three smaller fans surrounding them. It was a bit of an adventure.

Through it all though I couldn't help but think of how lucky we were. While it was inconvenient to not be able to turn on the A/C and be in automatic comfort, we did have soft beds to sleep on. We had screens in our windows to let in the night air. We had fans to at least move the hot air around, and most importantly we had each other. No one can commiserate with you better than those enduring with you. Oh sure we got frustrated with the situation, sure we took it out on each other at times, but truly? We would have done that anyway. There are two teenage girls in this house. Drama of some sort is bound to ensue. Do we aggravate each other? Sometimes. Do we love each other? Always. I don't think we can be defined by the things that disrupt our lives. The washer going out, the dryer going out or eating all the socks, the A/C going out, even the winter that the heat didn't work, or the summer my mom died and my world seemed to flip upside down. Trials will come, trials will go. The trick is in the surviving. And while I've had my share of melt downs, I think it's best to sit back and enjoy the ride. Because surviving in style? Acknowledging the grace of God in everything you encounter? Is so much the better.