My daughter’s Brazilian school is rather international. More international, actually than her “international” school, which was mostly Brazilians. I appreciate this and am always interested in learning and experiencing other cultures.
The mother of her little Chinese school friend and I planned some playdates. This is an interesting mental exercise since I speak English, some Portuguese and no Chinese while she (the mother) speaks Chinese, some Portuguese and a little English.
When the play date was at my house, I did what I thought was expected. No, I didn’t hire a bunch of people to serve food and run a jumpy-jumpy (see The Play Date). But I did put out some cakes, cookies and popcorn with some coffee and juices. It’s just what we do in the U.S.A. (am I right?) and what we international moms do for play dates.
When the Chinese mother saw the table she stopped in her tracks. “Oh no,” she explained in Portu-glish-ese. “We don’t eat those kind of things.” This, after at her place I consumed, without question, a grayish, fruit-roll up kind of thing which she later told me was given to children with stomach problems, and a Chinese biscuit-thingy that, from what I know about Chinese delicacies, may or may not have contained bird spit.
She then added, as politely as this kind of conversation could go, “Too much sugar is bad for children.” Of course, at this point, her adorable little daughter had spotted the chocolate cookies and was whining and crying for one. Awkward.
What makes all this worse was that I have gained 20 lbs since coming to Brazil. Seriously. No, not the high-school kind of 20 lbs where you gain 1/2 a pound and then cry about gaining “20 lbs.” An actual 20 lbs (9 kilos). I didn’t even gain 20 lbs during my entire pregnancy. From an efficiency perspective, I might as well produced another child – although much of the weight, I’m guessing, is from vino therapy. (I’m currently working on this by going back to being a vegetarian and back to getting some darn exercise. Not ready to give up the vino quite yet, but I’m working on that too…)
So I was a bit humiliated when my skinny, Chinese, play date counterpart shunned my snack table. What must she be thinking, was what I was thinking, about American moms.
Now here comes the dumb part. A few days later at the school I was trying to tell the director in Portuguese that we would be traveling next week and Sophia wouldn’t be in school on Monday. But I was tired and distracted so I was saying “sol de Brazil” instead of “sul do Brazil” (south of Brazil, awesome trip, more to come on that). He wasn’t getting me at all. But guess who showed up to help. That’s right. The Chinese mom. Who prior to coming to Brazil had never studied a Latin language in her life. Whose first language is made up of completely different characters. Who has been here since April.
It’s not about the Chinese mom. She is super sweet. But it’s interesting to have so many culture crashes in one short event.
Sorry American readers, but I’m out here representing. Just put all your positive thoughts into me losing the 20 and improving my Portuguese.