Thursday, June 12, 2014

Air conditioning (and other surprises)

It's my kids who keep highlighting all the differences.

I know America. It is my home. John too. We grew up here. Aside from our four years overseas, most of our life has been spent in its borders.

But my boys were practically babies when they left. This country is not their home .... yet.

And Abigail has never lived in America until now. Hannah too of course.

Tonight we went to Olive Garden. This was our first "nice" dinner out since moving back to the USA -- just the six of us. 

Let me say that aside from the fact that the high chair belts are a bit screwy in this restaurant and Hannah fell out of her chair and landed on her head ... the night was a raging success! (Seriously, she fell out, landed on her head and didn't cry! I kid you not!)

I was so proud of how well my kids behaved. Most restaurants we frequented in Turkey and the Azores were small and not usually very crowded. In addition, waiters and waitresses overseas often took my kids out of their seats, carried them around, and let them go in to meet the kitchen staff or play with things around the restaurant. I was honestly a bit concerned that they might not remember how it is in America (especially when it comes to grown-up restaurants.) But they did wond

During the dinner our kids kept pointing out differences -- little things that JB and I don't even think about. They didn't know they were showing us a cultural difference. They were just speaking the truth as they saw it.

Take coasters for instance. You know ... those little cardboard things that go under your glass. It was until Sidge said, "What is this?" that I realized I don't remember seeing those much (if ever?) in Turkey or the Azores.

Water bottles. Where are they? How can the waiter just pour water directly into a glass? (And of course, I noted the fact that water is now FREE!)

Another surprise? How C-O-L-D the restaurants are. The kids (all three of them) started rubbing their arms and telling us they were cold. "What is that blowing on me?" Sidge asked. We realized that they have probably never been in a restaurant with A/C in it. They didn't exist in Turkey (that I can remember) or in the Azores for sure. Toward the end of the meal Sidge said, "I want to get in the van, and I want you to not turn the air conditioning on in there."

Sidge also asked us why he is seeing so many overweight people. (Thank goodness he waited to ask us this until we were in private.) This is another big difference in switching countries. It may be where we are in the USA (i.e., the South) but obesity is much less common in Europe. It definitely exists but proportionately, you see so many more people in the USA who are overweight.

The thing is, JB and I have America "in our blood" and I have to really think about the differences. But our kids are pointing them out to us regularly. It makes for interesting dinner conversation as we try to explain to them why air conditioning is blowing or why you need these things under your glass.

One thing that made the night awesome included being able to ask about allergens and get concrete, solid, definitive answers. They actually gave us a 10 page booklet clearly defining what foods had eggs and what foods didn't. This is so amazingly wonderful to parents of a child with a food allergy -- and to that little boy. Isaac kept saying, "Are you sure?" He couldn't believe that we could be that positive about something that has always been so vague to us. We no longer have to try to ask whether the food has egg in it in another language and get some non-committal answer. There is no guessing! We can know ... for sure. What a blessing.

Despite all the learning curves and nuances, we remain incredibly blessed to be back home. We were also blessed today to have friends of ours from Eglin/Turkey/Azores (yes, we were in all three places together!) stop at our house and have lunch with us. The Seeligers were driving through and took the time to stop in! So wonderful to see them!

(The picture on the right is of the last time I saw Kristy. She, Carla, and I were hanging out at my house with our 8 children (and 2 in utero).

1 comment:

Unknown said...

It seems like the kids were culture shocked. But actually, it’s not a bad thing that they are not used to things such as ACs, bottled water, and the like. They’ll get used to it as time goes by. Anyway, thanks for sharing this with us, wish you guys all the best.

Tommy Hopkins @ Accutemp Cooling and Heating