Last weekend we had visitors from England. It was fabulous. A wonderful friend I've known since school, her age-defying husband (who was granted forgiveness for that by fixing our toilet seat) and three of their five children. Boisterous but very enjoyable would be a fair description of our time together I think. Having only one child, the madness of a house full is a rather humbling experience. Blithering on about my parenting issues with these people felt a bit like complaining about a paper cut to a person with an amputated arm. Is it really possible that I allow myself to get hassled with the duties of disciplining a single child when there are others who seemingly effortlessly manage five? As the short people were put into their respective beds I fought the impulse to whisper "G'night Mary Ellen..." as I crept down the stairs.
When relative peace returned to our home there was time for reflection. I think we are reading from the same page with regards to the core of our parenting methods but the issue of culture differences was never far away.
Our village has a population of around four hundred, many homes comprising of families with young children. As far as I'm aware not one household has either a PlayStation or a Wii. Our visiting English kids were somewhat perplexed by this. Indeed, the fact that we don't have a TV I think was so outlandish to them that it was almost impossible to compute. The youngest son had me in stitches with his wide eyed "Reallllly? Woahhh!" Thank heavens my husband has an i phone or I suspect in their eyes we would have been filed under "Neanderthal" for future reference and playground anecdotes! But a lack of electronics was of course not the main difference.That, naturally, was language. One hears frequent accounts of children on holiday chumming along quite merrily with their foreign counterparts without understanding a jot. Finje, despite (or possibly because of) my cajoling, stuck steadfastly to her German. The result? Hours of playing together with no communication issues at all.
Or so we thought.
Having dropped our guests off, we sat for a while in silence as we negotiated the hired "family tour bus" out of the parking space and through the airport labyrinth. After a while I heard Finje's mutterings from somewhere way behind me. "But I do know what a wee is, it's what you do when you drink lots of water!"
It turns out that the younger of the two boys, unable to really believe our lack of electronic goodies had interrogated Finje further with the question, "Don't you really know what a Wii is?"