After we had lived in Poland for a while I got back in touch with an old family friend (their family are friends of my family). I had lived in their basement when I first moved to Rexburg to start school. They are a family of intellectuals (Dad's an English professor and they're all very smart). I have always felt just a bit intimidated by them, even though they're the nicest people on the planet. When I lived there, my intimidation was tempered by the fact that they listened to Snoop Dogg, watched and quoted the Simpsons non-stop and made lots of delicious brownies. Who can be intimidated by anyone while eating brownies?
So this woman asked if I was getting all sophisticated, living, as I do, in Europe. This question obviously struck me, since she asked it about 6 years ago and I still remember it. I suppose I started thinking that maybe I should be getting sophisticated, living, as I do, in Europe. This is my inspiration for this post. That and the fact that I only ever post about things that are very important. Or let's just say important, ranging from rather to extremely. And relevant to my readers. That's another thing I value. Relevance.
So I've decided to start a running list of important things I've learned, living, as I do, in Europe. My hope is to gradually reveal the level of sophistication I have achieved. I will add things to the list as I remember them and re-post the list showing my updates. I'm pretty sure you are all on the edge of your seats. Here it comes, in no particular order:
- Smiling at strangers doesn't always give them a feeling of common understanding with you. Some places it's more likely to make them afraid of you.
- You can make a cereal that tastes almost exactly like Reese's Peanut Butter Puffs (not available in Poland) by stirring your dry Cookie Crisp (available in Poland) with peanut butter (available) and then adding your milk (also available).
- Children (especially babies)whose ears are not covered if there is a breeze and it is below 75 degrees outside, will almost surely die. If they don't, at least their mothers will from the deadly looks they are given by more experienced mothers. This has improved in the years we've lived here, and now people just mention over and over that, don't we think our kid needs a hat?
- Hershey's chocolate (milk and dark) bears little resemblance to real chocolate. It's brown and it's sweet, but beyond that, different. Not bad, just different. I'm not such a snob that I won't eat it. It's a tasty, American, chocolate-like candy.
- Getting from one city to another 75 miles away doesn't have to take an hour. It can take two or three.
- Children should sleep without underwear. I'm still not clear on why, I just know it's weird for them to sleep in their underpants. And if you're LDS and your kids sleep in their underwear? Hmmm.
- It's possible to spend an entire summer walking down sidewalks and never once have to detour into the street to avoid getting sprayed by a sprinkler. Or: It's possible to spend an entire summer walking down sidewalks and never find any refreshment from the heat in the form of sprinklers directed almost completely onto the sidewalk. (maybe this has changed in America now that people are loving Mother Earth a bit more).
- Babies need tea. They should drink baby tea (fruit and herbal) every day from their first month of life.
- Children should NOT drink cold drinks. For children under 3, "cold" means room temperature or colder. For some older kids, room temp might be okay, but it's safer to warm the beverage, like you do for the younger children. Cold drinks give kids (and many adults) sore throats. (This is true! Since drinks are always warmed for children, they can't handle cold ones.)
- On a long drive, when you gotta go, you gotta go, so there's no need to wait for a gas station. Just pull off the side of the road and do your thing right there. You don't have to worry about covering yourself, or walking 5 paces from your car into the forest through which you are driving. And also, kids should learn to pee on the grass at the park.
- Cakes that taste any sweeter than a typical store bought hamburger bun are "too sweet." Or at least "very rich." (more opinions on Polish cakes here.)
- There are entire grocery stores full of food, good food, that doesn't have brightly colored packaging, or big bubble letter words, or all the reasons you should eat it listed on the packaging. (when we first came here I thought it was so sad and boring, now I think it's really funny when I'm visiting the states and see all the stuff you guys have there. Seems silly after you've been away from it all for a while)