Now that we’ve lived in four countries our perspectives on what’s culturally “normal” have changed so much that we can no longer even remember what that word means. That’s especially true for us because Brian and I were raised in two different parts of the world and there are huge gaps in the way we think things are “supposed to be”. Like, did you know it’s even possible for someone to NOT know who Mr. Rogers was and still be a functioning adult? Or Grizzly Adams? Or even what S’mores are?
And Brian can. not. believe. that I have never heard of Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. I asked if he was related to Captain Kangaroo. He didn’t know who that was.
Anyway, we’ve learned to stop thinking of things as “strange” and just understand that sometimes what we think of as completely commonplace might not have ever come into the realm of experience of people in different places. This is a huge relief to me because I’ve always been a bit strange anyway. Now I’ve also had my eyes opened a bit regarding how non-Americans see my country when they first arrive.
Political bullshit aside, there is a lot of humor to be found in the differences. My daughter is getting ready to move to the Netherlands this summer and we were having a chat conversation on Skype about her upcoming experiences when we devolved into teenagers while we had a (we thought) hilarious conversation about those differences.
Daughter: I’ve added to my bucket list that I want to go to Germany and find the real Cinderella’s castle.
Me: I totally want to see Bruges, and it’s really close too.
Me: That train is going to be awesome for you.
Daughter: This whole thing is going to be awesome for me!
Me: Ooh, that castle would be cool, and they’ll be all like, “This old house? That’s just crazy Joe, our neighbor. No big deal.”
Me: It’s six hundred years old, so it’s still too new to really be part of the neighborhood.
Daughter: Yea, that’s not even old enough to renovate. But I still want to see it, lol
Me: Me too.
Daughter: I want to be the cheesy American tourist again who keeps saying “look at that sign post! That sign post is older than MY COUNTRY”
Me: You’ll be able to do that about every fifty feet.
Daughter: No kidding, lol.
Me: They’ll be all, “My CAR is older than your country!”
Daughter: Like when we were walking through Newcastle to the actual castle, and there were a couple of twenty-somethings who were walking through the castle ruins and not even seeing them
Me: NOT EVEN SEEING THEM.
Daughter: They were talking about the mall or some crap!
Me: Just like us Americans don’t see how big our cars are, how cheap our gas is, how crazy luxurious our grocery stores are.
Daughter: Yea, it’s always the grocery stores that get me.
Me: Costco. OMG.
Daughter: That’s the thing I notice most about American luxury. Like I love the idea of taking visitors to the grocery store and watching them ogle.
Daughter: “Who needs THIS many brands of peanut butter?”
Me: And who needs an entire gallon of it!
Me: Mayonnaise! A gallon of mayonnaise!
Daughter: Why are your eggs in the refrigerator?
Me: A gallon of milk! In a white gas can and not a bag or a box! Five pounds of cheese!
Daughter: Look at the size of this lemon!!
Me: SEEDLESS WATERMELON? WTF?!!
Daughter: I didn’t even know there WERE this many kinds of potato chips!
Me: Why is this pizza hanging off the edges of the table??!!
Daughter: Who needs this many frozen meals?
Me: And why is your wine section so small?
Daughter: CHOCOLATE wine, are you serious right now?
Me: And, ew, your fast food is so gross and unhealthy. I MUST EAT MORE OF IT.
Daughter: Do you really need THIS MUCH toilet paper in one go?
Me: And I can flush it? That scares me.
Daughter: If you take this many supplements anyways, why are you even eating food? Magnesium? What could you possibly need that for?
Me: The supplements are because of the fast food, that’s not even actual food.
Me: You mean this entire airport runway sized lot is all for parking?
Daughter: And there are specific places for the carts to go so that they don’t end up all over the parking lot?
Daughter: What is Chicken Seasoning? Do you want your vegetables to taste like chicken?
Me: And where are all your stray dogs?
Me: What do you mean there is no bus here? Or train? Or sidewalk? Or bike lane?
Daughter: What do you mean this car is just for you and your spouse and your two kids? It’s the size of public transportation!
Me: Oh, I see, it’s for all the toilet paper.
This is what I love about seeing the world. This difference, this humor, this new (to us) perspective on what it means to be normal, and the very useful appreciation of just how easy we have it. I’m so excited for my girl to start her own adventure out in the world. Brian and I both agree that the world would be a better place if everyone had the chance to live in another country for at least a year or so, and to see my girl work hard to make that dream a reality for herself has made my mom-heart grow three sizes.
Her sense of humor is going to be one of her greatest strengths in this new life, and I can’t wait to hear her laugh while she tells me all about the things she’ll see.