I only feed my kids Burgers?!
We moved from Bordeaux, France, into a beautiful historically protected house with four apartments in southern Germany. The family living below us had a son and our eldest daughter, who was seven, played with him on occasion. Shortly after our arrival, early in the fall, the doorbell rang. I opened the door with Maya, my youngest, in my arms to find our neighbor standing there with a beautiful basket of vegetables. She proceeded to offer this lovely gift by telling me that children must eat vegetables. She then explained every item in the basket and how to cook it as if I had never seen corn on the cob!
I politely took the basket, realizing what had happened. You see, Carli did not know the German word for vegetable “Gemüse.” Hence when this mother asked Carli which vegetable she liked, Carli said, "we don’t eat that, I don’t know what vegetables are" this poor woman believed her. Just because I was American, she thought I only fed my kids burgers, fries, and soda.
Needless to say, I graciously thanked her, took the basket saying that corn on the cob was one of our favorite vegetables and that we had eaten it just two days ago. I smiled sweetly, explaining that Carli had never used that German word "Gemüse" (vegetable) and I was glad she made me aware of that missing link and then I sent her on her way.
Living the expat life and bringing up multilingual kids has its amusing moments and I try to see them as amusing; it makes life easier. Stereotyping is dangerous and potentially very embarrassing. I have it happen to me on a weekly basis; in Germany, France, Switzerland and now in the streets of Amsterdam. The look on my neighbors face will ever stay engraved in my memory as her jaw dropped in utter shock and embarrassment.
—Allison Ochs Social Worker M.S.W. , Coach, Expat, Mother of three, Wife