“So what drinks do you want with your meal: cola, water or calciyum?” The cashier raised an eyebrow and looked at me expectantly.
“Calcium?” Seemed a little extreme for a kid’s meal, didn’t it? “What, exactly, is that?” I asked, hesitantly.
“Calci-YUM.” Like that made things clearer? There was a rather long pause and after an eye-roll that would have made my daughter proud, she explained very slowly, very patiently, “It’s chocolate milk.”
There were a lot of moments like that in the first few days. Products I’d never heard of, acronyms that made no sense, shops that didn’t exist before we left – I started to cringe every time I had to ask for directions. Every response seems to be prefaced with “You know…” Well, I don’t anymore!
As an expat I either looked or sounded different and could make a joke of my lack of knowledge – here, I might look the part of a local but feel like I’ve been living in a time-warp. My confidence takes a battering every time I know I have to ask a question – fully aware that I’ll sound like an idiot for asking.
I’m guessing the kids feel it too and they’ve got the added issue of “no prior knowledge”.
The night-time lows of sub-6 degrees has been a bit of a shock and after a few rapid purchases of hot-water bottles and bed socks, we realised the kids didn’t have any bedding to speak of, for when we moved into the house. So we started to look around for duvets. Now in Singapore it was too hot to be tucked in at nighttime so the kids have grown up without blankets and sheets.
We walked around the store for a while, trying to decide what thickness the duvet should be, etc, when H tugged my arm.
“Mum,” she said, eyeing off the piles of quilts and looking a little confused. “They all look warm, but…they’re all white. Where are the coloured ones?”
In that moment I realised she didn’t know what a duvet really was. Or that they had covers. Trying not to laugh, I had to explain, “They’re a bit like a pillow, they go inside a cover…”
“Makes sense,” she said, not looking the least bit embarrassed.
And that’s what I love about kids. If they’ve got a question, they’ll generally ask it, no matter how ridiculous it may sound, once curiosity -or need – gets the better of them.
Perhaps that’s the attitude I need to take too. So going forward, I’ve decided not to get caught up in what people think when I ask my ridiculous questions. I’m going to simply embrace the decade we had away and talk my way into the next one.
And get the kids to ask the tricky questions!