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Sunday, January 29, 2012

You Dropped Your Teat

It has become shorthand around here to say, "everything is different" and it is absolutely true in countless, maybe endless, funny ways.  I'm not at all convinced that anyone who said to us before we moved, "at least they speak the same language" had even been to the UK.  This is being said by a woman who was utterly and naively stunned (no exaggeration) to stand in a London grocery store and not recognize lots of what was being sold.  You try finding chocolate chips here. Or cookies. Go ahead, ask someone about "a pudding." 

Sure, with a twist of fate, I could be in India or Uganda (although there no one would be all over my case about the kids not dressing warmly enough.  To which I want to say, "THEY'RE NOT THE LEAST BIT COLD. WE JUST CAME FROM CHICAGO.  THIS IS DOWN RIGHT SUMMER FOR US.  ZIP IT." Thank goodness no one here had to endure my barefoot babies.  I don't believe in shoes until our children are really, really able to walk and even then, that they really need them.). This is by no means the Third World, but it is VERY different, England. In most every (even if it is now absolutely delightful) way.

That goes for language, the cursive ("joined writing") font, and kazillion things you would never. ever. imagine. could or would be different.  The Mister somehow just discovered last week that school crossing guards are called "Lollipop Men." The stop sign sticks they hold look like lollipops.  Which are of course, different from iced lollies, which we would call popsicles.  Circular arguments, all.  And don't even get me started on my children saying they have to "go to the toilet." For reasons I'm still not entirely clear about, parents here are way more sweetly diplomatic and kind to their children in making requests versus demands.  My British friends sound so charming when they ask their smalls sweet things like, "Shall we get ready to leave the park now, Darling?" when by contrast I am yelling, "I SAID TEN MINUTES AGO! WE ARE GOING HOME!  GET YER STUFF!"  Foreign.  All of it.  I am not making that "Darling" part up.  They are that nice.  They certainly must think I personify militant American toughness.

I had to pantomime "mop" during the Oxford Street riots in order to purchase one (NO, I didn't mean "map," so envision me making mop-pushing actions). Also had to learn to say "leeks" with my hands when showed an onion by the charming Waitrose produce staff. I started pulling my arms apart in a way that certainly would be recognized in ASL.  Mr Tumble, is that the right sign?  Mr Tumble - notice I didn't punctuate Mr. - is a children's television personality who teaches, among other things, sign language, to viewers.  You are learning SO much just reading this! Hooray, you! This make us positively "brilliant" which is what the British say for "super" or "great" and I now absolutely love that word!  If you're read this far, I deem you BRILLIANT!  Anyhow, back to leeks, which should you need to know, are salad onions here. But this, most importantly, is all about teats.  I think some of you should consider reading this blog Continuing Legal (or Other) Education. Leeks, Teats, You Name It. This is higher education of one kind or another.

Anyway, not long after we arrived and when Big Brother and Big Sister were still enrolled in my glorious home school with Baby Sister tagging along, we were about to cross at a "zeb-brah" (zebra for those of you not yet conversant in British English. C'mon!  Keep up! We need you to be bilingual on this blog!) crossing which is one of the very few places pedestrians are supposed to be able to cross safely. Bonne chance to you if you believe that.  You take your life in your hands at every intersection.  Young, old, small.  Cross at your peril and look both ways the entire time (even if Big Brother INSISTS on continuing a lengthy explanation of heaven knows what because I was doing my darndest not to have Baby Sister run over so just yanked her by her coat hood). 

Anyhow, when we were still very new here, a man passing us on a bicycle while we crossed at one of those perilous "zeb-brahs" apparently noticed Baby Sister drop her pacifier out of the stroller (aka buggy) and shouted merrily as he rode by "YOU DROPPED YOUR TEAT"! 
Thank goodness he was riding at a good clip because I burst out laughing.  

Being a woman of a certain age who has nursed (still going, you should know. And not always mutually willingly.  I'm close to sending you a hostage note. Or at least a proof of life photo. The Mister will certainly be pictured, too) 4 children, I glanced first to my shirt, then to the ground, not knowing what part(s) of me might be embarrassingly exposed to my new neighbors.  We soon discovered he meant Baby Sister had dropped her ninkie.

Baby Sister has since given ninkies up, but Big Brother can still manage to occasionally find ways to announce that we nearly lost/dropped/or that he's just found a teat!  It is all different here.  Even the teats. 

Now off you go.  To find your salad onions.  Just over there, passed that zebra, Darling.

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