Smashing Comfort Zones

Well, it happened: we finally attended another birthday party in Italy.  Following our initial attempt here, it probably doesn’t come as a shock that it took us close to 2 years to muster up the courage to try again but better late than never, I suppose.  Since she began daycare last fall, Frankie has actually received several invitations to parties in Rome and we’ve always successfully managed to misplace those invites until the day of the event has passed.  So, when Jesse recently announced that he was committed to accompanying Frankie to the next party to which she was invited, I knew I couldn’t let him do it alone: it was time.

And, of course, we knew it was going to be awkward – we knew it even before the moment that Jesse casually strolled up to the Italian-speaking birthday girl’s mom at daycare to RSVP and announced, “I want to come to your party” and she responded by asking him what he was talking about.  She had no idea who he was and was also (perhaps) a tad surprised at the strange guy advising her in broken Italian that he wanted to come to her party.  Unfortunately, as often happens in these stressful situations when Jess and I are trying to recall specific words/phrases in Italian, we forget to do things that would come naturally when conversing in English — things such as introducing ourselves and providing explanations.  So, later, when Jesse was lamenting over this embarrassing encounter and was moaning about how he couldn’t believe he even forgot the word for text message (messagio), I could only empathize and commiserate. And be happy that, this time, it wasn’t me.  Because, normally it is me: it was me who continually referred to my daughter as sexually aroused to strangers at the park until my tutor advised me that “eccitato” does not actually have the direct translation from English-Italian that I thought it did (cringe-worthy, right?).  And, it was me who told the owner of my daughter’s daycare that I wanted her to see a picture of my husband, rather than ask if I could show my husband the school portrait of my daughter as I intended on asking.  I mean, that shit is embarrassing.  And, it’s constant.  So, we were prepared for awkward at the birthday party.  Because it’s our everyday….

But, we went anyway.  And, it was fine…ish (fine-ish).  And, yes, Jesse and I sat in a corner most of the time sipping our sangria (thank goodness for sangria, am I right?) but aside from me saying, in my terrible Italian, “we bought a gift together with all the people but we bought another one because Frankie wanted only” and Jesse spilling his entire plate of food on the grass, we didn’t embarrass ourselves.  We certainly felt awkward huddled together, smiling until our cheeks hurt, all the while sweat was dripping down our legs (ok, maybe just mine) and just pretending to be casual.  Perhaps even more awkward, for us at least, was the fact that our daughter ignored us for most of the party as she played and ate with her Italian friends and hung out with all of their parents.  But, we did it.  And, Frankie had a blast.  So we’ll do it again. And, slowly, slowly (so so slowly) it’ll get easier.

8 Responses to “Smashing Comfort Zones”

  1. Too, too funny! Funny enough to make me cringe while reading it. Dad and I really admire the two of you for hanging in there, though . . . plus, as you surely remember, parents are always going to be embarrassing you anyway. . . at least you two can blame the embarrassment you cause on the language gap. 😉

    • Rhiannon Sprout says:

      Yes, true. The time Jesse accidentally took his clothes off at the hairdressers cannot be put down to language….

  2. This made me laugh until I cried!! Too funny.

  3. Paul Sprout says:

    Ok this so reminds me of when I was trying to learn French and I thought I heard get some chicken from the fridge rather than put some wood in the fireplace. My French hosts, I am sure, are still laughing. Loved this post and trials of learning a new language. Wonderful! Dad

    • Rhiannon Sprout says:

      Yes, I remember that one and I actually just recounted it to my tutor the other day. I’m sure there’s a lot of similar stories out there….

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