05 May 2008

Taking out the Garbage

Ours is a multilingual household. English. Portuguese. Bark. Babble. Silent Treatment. Thank goodness we have a translator.

Otto squawks and demands, "Bawbaw." Stella says, "Otto wants milk."

At the back door, Rex lays down with a humpf. Stella says, "Rex wants to go out."

Augusto says to the family, "Vamos pelo parque?" Stella says, Mama, let's go to the park!"

I speak in Portuguese daily, so she should know I understand it. Perhaps it's so bad she figures I need help? But no. Augusto says, "I'll pick up Stella today. I think we'll go to the park and then get some ice cream." Stella says, "Mama, after school Papai is taking me to the park. And then we're getting ice cream!"

Em... that was all in English. She's translating one parent to the other. Clearly she's tuned into our latest high tension-low conversation phase. We aren't understanding each other often enough. Last week, after Augusto laid off several employees, he was edgy. I was maxed out on giving him room. He said something that now I can't remember. He offended me. I started to bitch, "I can't believe you said that. It was so." I stopped, not wanting to bicker in front of the kids. "Rude." I looked at Stella and she was staring at me, eyebrows up. Like, yeah, I said it, that word came out of my mouth, and I just completed your sentence, ha ha. After I recovered from the shock of her repetition/understanding- it didn't matter- I felt the horror of seeing the real impressions we make. Then I had a little inner peace. She saw it too. Isn't that one of the benefits of family, ganging up on each other?

But usually it's the routine words that get lost. The following conversation has been started by either parent.

"I took out the garbage."
"I took out the garbage."

Dinner, bath, bed routine.

"Did you take out the garbage?!"

It's misunderstanding, sleep deprivation, ignoring, and simple absentmindedness. Do we really have time for a conversation about garbage? Aren't we happier, more suited, making plans for a fall trip, selecting a date night? But those conversations don't happen either.

"We should think about using our frequent flier miles in October."
"Where do you want to go?"

Dinner, bath, bed routine.

"Did you take out the garbage?"

No comments: