Friday, May 21, 2010

No English Speakers Allowed

Been feeling a little like the high school geek these days. And since I wasn't a "loser" in high school, this is a foreign emotion. You'd never find me skulking in a corner, holding up a wall or dissapearing into a background. Nope, not me. Not ever. I'm usually the one in the center of the room, shouting into a virtual megaphone, "Hey everybody, Look at ME!" I'm loud, high energy and bordering on obnoxious.

Now, I attract the attention but am just as quickly dismissed because to paraphrase Chris Tucker in that movie with Jackie Chan, they don't understand the words that are comin' outta my mouth. Well, they do but because the words are in English, Mr. Fredericksson turns down his hearing aid to stop Russell's annoying voice from slaughtering his ear drums (have you seen the animated Pixar movie UP!?)

It was all well and good when I was that funny Canadian guest that showed up once a year. But my free pass has long expired and unless I wake up tomorrow speaking fluent Swedish, I'm screwed.

And my biggest obstacle isn't the neighbours, the general public, my co-workers or "friends". The role of The Gatekeeper flashing the Access Denied sign is my almost 4-year old son.

Hubby and I left work early today to partake in the Parents Coffee at the little man's school today. We sat our large butts on those little chairs as he proceeded to put on a show-and-tell of all his favourite school activities. We ooo'd and awww'd and asked him questions about the puzzles, pictures and books, surrounded by other parents engaging in the same activities with their children. We nibbled on homemade, by the kids, bread and sipped instant coffee while lovingly doting on our pride and joy.

And when Mommy decided to comment on the butterfly, "Det är en jette fint fjaril!", she got "the hand".
"Mommy, you speak English."
"Men Mama kan prata svenska också..."
Attempt #2 thwarted: "No, you don't speak Swedish. You speak English."
I let it go.
A friendly, no, a stern reminder from my son that even though I might know how to say a few things in Swedish, I'm clearly not cool enough to enter the clubhouse. Not sure that I'll ever be. And I really don't think I'm ok with that. Why can't Alicia Silverstone and her BFF give me the (RIP) Brittany Murphy make-over? This pounding on the door thing sucks.


Hyacynth said...

Oh, Jenn. I know this stinks because you feel like you're not part of the club. But you already made a few friends! So you've gotta be getting there. Just whatever you do, DO NOT sport a pleated plaid skirt with white knee highs to fit in, mmk?
Also, maybe one reason you're feeling like you don't fit in is because you are so stinkin' funny, and perhaps all of the cultural references and phrases don't really translate -- like your Clueless reference. Hmm? Maybe?

SwedishJenn said...

I promise to never commit such a fashion disaster. Though that might look good on the tweens, the furthest 33-year old moi will go is sporting the horizontal stripes that are de rigeur these days. And horizontal stripes do nothing for me. But maybe if I accessorized them with a pair of Converse sneakers, some tights, a big-ass scarf and a cropped leather jacket, they'd let me in!Glad you got the Clueless reference. Dee! Wasn't that her BFF's name? Dionne?!

Michelle said...

I think the little man wants you to speak English because its his special link to you. Everyone around him are Swedish and while he fits in well there, you and he have this special way of communicating that no one else there shares with you (except Daddy of course). Instead of seeing it as not being allowed in the club, think of it as something cherished between you two. And if that is indeed the reason, perhaps you can have a chat with him and explain to him that you need to speak some swedish in order to fit in there, but that you guys will always have English for eachother.
Make sense?

Rebecca said...

I echo what Michelle said but add, no offense - whose the parent??

SwedishJenn said...

@Michelle and Rebecca: I was using the little man's example as an example of the way I'm feeling here in this country. He represents the adults here holding up virtual "Do not enter" signs. I realize the reason he doesn't want me to speak to him in Swedish is likely because of the very reason you identified Michelle. And I've told him that Mama speaks Swedish sometimes to be nice and respectful of the Swedish people around us. I will keep going and continue to explain my behaviour to him, while keeping English as the primary language of communication. Would love for you all to see him "in action". It's incredible how quickly he switches back and forth, how he will be chatting up a storm in Swedish about something to a Swede and then turn to me and translate. I believe it's much easier for him to express himself in Swedish than in English (due to days spent in daycare) and for this reason, I need to work with him more on his English-speaking skills. Kids are such sponges when it comes to language, it's really something to be a part of. Thanks for all the support ladies :-).

Rebecca said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mon said...

chuckle, too funny. he wants you all to himself.... ooooorr, he's saving you from making an ass of yourself 'cause your Swedish is THAT crap. LOL
kids tell it like it is afterall...

no idea who are Alicia Silverstone & Brittany Murphy.

SwedishJenn said...

@Rebecca: I deleted your comment only because you had your email addy in there and I was afraid of spammers gettin' it. Tip: Write it like this next time: name at google dot com. Here's your comment again, minus email addy:
"According to my mother, her brother did the same when he was a child with Spanish speaking neighbors. Sponges, indeed. ;D There are some websites where you can continue to hone your Swedish if you keep running into real time stumbling blocks. Online television shows I've found that completely in Swedish, great for listening and picking up nuances. It's ironic how "they" want you to learn the national language but throw these blocks up. It's really not that hard to learn, imo. Have been learning it on my own for now, I have a friend there and hope to visit/vacation one day. email(deleted) -- can send you links and also those lower cost beauty remedies, too!"

Anonymous said...

guess a lot of program on the play channels could be good places to hear alot of swedish so you can pickup on words and nuances

svtplay ,tv3play,tv6play,kanal5play and so on

septembermom said...

I agree with Michelle that speaking English may be his special link with you. Just wait until he's a teenager. You should see how my son says that I "say and do the wrong things" all the time :)

Oh yeah, add those converse sneakers. LOL.

sapphire said...

Boy, kids are tough. They get a bit stronger (and maybe cockier) with each generation.

Though I can understand his view. You speak english, daddy speaks swedish. Simple. QED.

Guess it's time for all of us to pull out the learn Swedish books!