Children and lockdown

This morning:

Me: ‘I see, Sweety, that you’re up to something – what are the plans for today?’

Walter (10): ‘I know you both need to work, so I will play carnival, you see I put pyjama on back to front, and will build a nest below your table. Will not disturb: I’ve brought some books and toys, but I need to return for a 2nd transport.’

Side effects

Our 10-yr-old son’s friend has been with us since yesterday. After today’s full play date, today at least they listened to me and started to study.

I am just going upstairs with some drinks to their floor when I hear the conversation behind the door:

They: ‘Ok, so we have a list of words, let’s see: ‘orgasm’ – what can it be??’

At this point I am very silently turning around tiptoeing downstairs, when the door opens:

My son: ‘Mama, where are you going? Aren’t those drinks for us? Listen, we need your help. What is ‘orgasm’?’

Me: ‘First of all let’s see what the task exactly is, before we would jump on the explanation..’

They: ‘We need to write each word to 1 of the coloumns ‘men’, ‘women’, ‘both’. Is it for both, with each other?’

Me: ‘Yes. I mean no! It can be for 2 men or 2 women as well… or 1… or… But hey, let’s not get stuck at the 1st word, let’s move on to the next one, I say..’

They: ‘Yes, ok, good idea! The 2nd one is ‘e-ja-cu-lation’..’

Giving to 10-yr-old children the sexual education school material – then the next day locking down schools closing children up with their home-office parents for weeks … very funny, dear teachers… very funny..

About Our Newest Mass Social Experiment

Corona – apart from being a ‘medical situation’ – is a nice big social experiment at the same time.

Yesterday my husband went to do the groceries (regular shopping, no extra amount or frequency), among them toilet paper.

Returning home I asked him what he experienced in Delhaize.

He: ‘Some food products are sold out, there I bought something comparable.

Toilet paper is indeed almost completely off. I took the last but one package.’

Btw, I don’t find it a pure coincidence that I had married a guy who finishes the sentence with ‘the last but one package’ instead of ‘the 2 last packages’.

Peace..

Home schooling

Due to Corona virus, the next 3 weeks schools are closed in Belgium, and children are studying from home. They might here and there need some help from the parents – which, in a highly educated family like ours can of course not be a problem.
My son (10) is currently preparing his biology homework: they learn about the female genitals.
He: ‘Mama, I need to fill in this picture with the names of the female genitals, but it’s so difficult..’
Me: ‘No panic, Walter, mama keeps everything under control. I will just look up a similar drawing on the internet in Dutch, and so you can just learn from that one… here we go!’ 
He: ‘Mama… this woman has a penis.’
Me: ‘Ooops, one seconds, I’m looking for another one..’
Home schooling – with slight bumps on the road – so what..

Statistics

We are celebrating the birthday of our daughter today. 
Me to my husband: ‘Have you managed to buy a birthday cake so that she can take it to the school for the children?’
My husband: ‘Yes, 3 cakes.’
Me (truly shocked): ‘What? Threeeeee??? Omg, you two shouldn’t be left alone in a shop..’
My husband: ‘I bargained it down from 4.’
Me (truly admiring): ‘What? You managed to bargain down on sweets with our daughter??
You are clearly amazing.
That’s my husband…’

S like ‘ssssobig’

As widely known* (*for those who look now surprised – what were you reading up to now for God’s sake??) some weeks ago I ordered several clothes online.
Conclusion: this jumpsuit (size S) is sooo big that if I didn’t combine it with a belt, it would land in no time around my ankles.

Mental note: remember next time to order a belt..

Authentic

In a (Gazelle) bike shop in Antwerp, Belgium.

My husband (to the shop assistant): ‘I would like a bike for myself – what do you recommend?’

Shop assistant: ‘Now, that I look at you, the Heavy Duty model for sure.’
My husband: ‘Heavy Duty – very authentic. Describes my whole existence. Let’s find a bike to my wife, too. Do you have also models like ‘Easy Life’?’

Sex – for the good cause

Antwerp Government Office (‘stadsloket’), health prevention campaign encourages inhabitants to choose the stairs instead of the elevator:

‘Those who take the stairs have better sexual life.’

Good news: there are still some governments which think that public funds should be spent on messages serving the public interest.

Who-is-it

I adore challenges, I simply do.

At this moment I’ve been talking to an acquaintance for 20 minutes, waiting for boarding at Budapest airport. We have talked about different things so far, and I carefully analyse everything he tells me, including indefinite articles, in order to

– not show I have no idea who he is

– try to change the above, preferably asap.

We speak English which means he is not a previous Hungarian classmate or colleague.

At this point he mentions that after landing in Brussels he also takes the train to Antwerp just like me.

OK, so that narrows down the search in my mind: he must be a papa from the children’s school or a neighbour from our street maybe.

Then he adds: upon arriving home he just drops his luggage, and heads immediately to the same place where my husband.

Of course!! He is a colleague of my husband! We met at the family day of their company, now I know his name, too: Olivier, and he is a really nice guy.

It’s a pity at this point I’ve lost all interest in our conversation: to participate in a discussion where I know both who the parties are AND what the topic is about, well, anybody can do that, this doesn’t require any special skills..

Design thinking

Question of the week: what is the major difference between the first 2 photos.

Pardon? That the 1st one contains whisky while the 2nd one chocomelk?

Nope.

Any other guesses?

Then I come out with the solution: the biggest difference can be found in knowing the target market segment: while the product designer of the whisky glass could obviously see the world through the eyes of a drunken person, the designer of the Chocomelk apparently had never seen a child before. It would be difficult otherwise to find a reason of a cocoa cup which dramatically narrows towards the bottom, making the whole mug so easy to knock over for 0-7 year-old citizens, being the target audience of the product – while the whisky glass stands solid, impossible to be knocked over.

And you know what? After creating the cup, the designer wasn’t completely satisfied with this Masterpiece: as there still might be children who eventually manage to balance the cup. So he didn’t take a rest, and went further to design an accompanying soucer – you know, with the little circle shaped edge in the middle. So children with exceptional manual skills, who survived Level 1 (not knocking the cup over), can still fail the Advanced Level (placing the cup back on the soucer), so the Chocomelk can still land on the table/ in their lap.

Of course I totally follow the mental process of the designer thinking that the cup works very well with those children below 7 who have perfect fine-motoric skills AND are able to sit at restaurant tables motionless for hours – and I would really not want to disturb him with the special needs of the children belonging to the rest 99.9% of the target group.

I can hardly believe that there have been mamas/ papas/ grannies in the past 20 years who have not seen a child knocking over a Chocomelk in their direct surrounding – or, if their child was lucky enough, have not been sitting themselves by restaurant tables with a completely alert nerve system, being terrified WHEN the drink will be knocked over.

I wouldn’t be surprised if one day it turned out that the Chocomelk designer was financially supported by the alcohol lobby, so to make parents promote their children’s getting used to drinking whisky as soon as possible.

There is always another solution

School yard, long break.

One of the teachers (dragging a sobbing 5-year old along to my daughter):

‘Noëmi, Tim says you have just called him an Exceptionally Wicked Child.’

My daughter (13): ‘Correct.’

Teacher: ‘May I ask you not to call him this name any more? You can see it hurts him a lot, he is crying.’

My daughter: ‘Tim hit my little brother a few minutes ago so hard from behind that Walter is still in pain.

If somebody is an Exceptionally Wicked Child, I think it is fair to call hem an ‘Exceptionally Wicked Child’.’

Teacher: ‘I understand now – still, could you please find another solution?’

My daughter: ‘Well, OK. Since this level of wickedness is really exceptional and does not occur very frequently in our school, in the future I will call him ‘Limited Edition’.’

Leuven

Recently I have visited a conference in Leuven University, Belgium.

Beautiful town.

From this fact and the quality of presentations I immediately concluded that one of our children should definitely come here to study.

I immediately started to contemplate which one of them should be The One, during which process I analysed highly scientific factors.

Among them the most relevant argument seems to be that the University is situated approx. 2 kms from the railway station, which distance needs to be covered completely on cobblestone, and that, on a daily basis, is really challenging on high heels, so it should be our son, Walter.

At the same time, if one of you is aware of a university which can be accessed on a smooth surface, please let me know, as apart from our 10-yr old son, I also feel like deciding on the future of my 13-yr-old daughter, is preferably still today.

Chuck

Me (to my husband, leaving the restaurant): ‘Aren’t you cold?’

He: ‘Of course not! It’s because I am a Very Tough Guy.’

Me: ‘I see. Shall we call a taxi home or rather walk?’

He: ‘Uhh, rather taxi, no walk.’

Me: ‘Pardon? Didn’t you say you were a Very Tough Guy?’

He: ‘Eeeehmmm.. of course I am. Only I feel sorry for the pavement..’

Chaplin

I am on the railway station going to work. We had some snow some parts in Belgium, and have had rain since then, so the sidewalks are often dangerously slippery by the ice.
So I thought I really chose a challenging outfit for today – a black dress with matching high heels – until the moment I see the lady, who is also going to the station 
– in high heels, AND
– balancing a huuuuuge musical instrument (I guess it is a chello) on her back, AND
– in one hand hanging her handbag, AND
– in her other hand holding an open cup of coffee, AND
– apparently she did not leave home in time as she has been r.u.n.n.i.n.g.
Chaplin not dead.

Sinta

Our daughter (13):
‘Grown-ups always warn children of two things: eat healthy, and never accept anything from strangers.
At Santa time of the year, however, they themselves encourage children to accept in shops and even in the street a crazy amount of candies and lollies from not only total strangers they know nothing about, but also from totally creepy strangers who wear such a strong make up under which it is impossible to recognise anybody, not to mention if you need later to identify the guy.
Grown-ups are not logical.’

Almost vacation

Our son (10) comes home today, giving me an envelope from school. I ask him to open it, he starts to read it out:

‘Oh, it’s about vacation!!’

(Note: vacation in Dutch – ‘vakantie’)

He (surprised): ‘..Only they spelt it with double ‘c’ instead of a ‘k’..’

Me: ‘Hmm, could you show me for a second? …. Ah, I see… it is not a spelling mistake: the 1st ‘c’ in this word you pronounce as a ‘k’ in most languages..’

He: ‘Oh nooooooooooo!!!!’

This is also Belgium

I just love multiculturalism.

On Sunday I had a discussion with a papa, whose daughter goes for chess in the same club with my son. The man is originating from India, and we often see each other in the cafeteria.

He: ‘Are you Flemish? I can’t tell – you look like one, but you speak English here..’

Me: ‘I am Hungarian. ..Were you already born in Belgium?’

He: ‘No, still back in India. So, Hungary…well, sorry, all I know of the country is that it has its own unique language, and used to belong to the communist block…’

Me: ‘No worries. In exchange, all we know about India is that it is 1 country…a nice big country, though..’

He: ‘That’s right. The size of Europe. I, for example, have never been in our capital.. I see you are also a fan of clichés.. ‘

Me: ‘Absolutely. Anyway, what do you work in Belgium?’

He: ‘I am a space engineer, working for the European Space Agency.’

Me: ‘Oh, you must then be frequently visiting the Mars.’

He: ‘Not so often any more, I don’t have much free time, so only at the weekends. Where do you work?’

Me: ‘At a bankinsurer.’

He: ‘Then you must be terribly rich!’

Me: ‘ Oh, don’t even mention. We’ve just recently changed at home our gas heating for burning paper – in order to get rid of the piles of banknotes.’

He: ‘Okay, I see chess has finished, the children are returning. Continue next Sunday?’

Me: ‘Fine, see you next Sunday.’

KPIs

A few days ago, after finding solution to a problem, I received the below feedback from a nice colleague working abroad:

‘…Piros, you are a SAINT – someone we can always turn to at the HQ!’

I am still trying to figure out how exactly being a saint can be matched up with my KPIs for 2019.

Italian

A regular Sunday evening home – each member of our family communicating in his/her own temper.

Me (exhausted): ‘I’ve been suspecting for a while that our children have inherited some secret Italian genes..’

My husband: ‘I would love to talk to you about it only I cannot hear what you’re saying..’

Just another key argument

Our daughter (13) started secondary school in September, and now is preparing for the approaching exam period.
She is checking her digital agenda for the exam schedule, and sees the following notes:
– “Catholic studies: EXAM!!”
– “Islam studies: EXAM!!”
She (who attends ‘ethics’ at school – as an alternative for children of non-religious families): 
‘Mama, you and papa were totally right. Just found another key argument in favour of atheism.’

Innovation

Me (enthusiastically): ‘Look at that innovative solution on the beer crate – a handle in the middle! I cannot recall it from earlier, there were handles only on the 2 sides..’

My husband (mutually enthusiastic): ‘Indeed! Isn’t technological revolution wonderful! How easier life has become for single alcoholists!’

Charmeur

We have an acquaintance – a kind lady in her 60s, she leads a very sporty life, and cares about her appearance in every respect – of which she is rather proud.

At this moment she is trying to chitchat with our little son.

Sporty Lady (sending an encouraging smile): ‘And, Walter, can you guess how old I am?’

Walter (carefully studying her before giving an answer): ’80?’

Walter is a charmeur.

That’s the way the cookie crumbles

Our son (10): ‘Let’s organize a cookie race!’
Me: ‘OK, but we did it already at the weekend..’
He: ‘It didn’t count – out of several reasons.’
Me: ‘Like what..?’
He:
‘First of all it was not the 2 of us. It was only me making cookies, and you – tasting them. We cannot call me a winner if in the competition it’s only me entering..
So, all of us in the family need to participate – apart from you.’
Me: ‘Why is it so?’
He: ‘The jury is not allowed to participate in the competition, that wouldn’t be fair to the others.’
Aha, so we still know these things, when we are 10..

Alienated

I already travelled with this gentleman one morning last week, too – I recognise the shoes and coat.

..And once it has turned this way, I have just woken him up before we got to Brussels-North railway station, where I know he needs to get off.

He was so happy & grateful. We wished each other a nice day, hoping to meet also next time.

And studies dare to say that commuting has a negative impact on your social network..

Yes, we can!

Just seen the invitation to a renowned international event celebrating diversity – meaning very concretely an award ceremony for outstanding women in business, promoting ‘Gender Equality’.

For the indicated dress code please see the photo.

It is still a long way to go, I presume.. 😉

A day in the life of a unicorn

Our daughter, Noëmi (13), this morning travels to Amsterdam, NL, with her music school class to watch a famous musical. The children need to be delivered to the school bus by 10 o’clock (the meeting place is located 15 min from our home by bike).

Now you need to know that Noëmi is not that nervous type.

Readiness status:

9.22 – She has already put on one of her socks

9.28 – And now the other one

9.34 – ..Pardon, it was too early to be so self-confident. True, she has started to put on her other sock – which process was then dramatically interrupted by other Activities of Higher Priority, such as an incoming chat message, the patterns on her socks, remembering a funny story having happened 3.5 years ago, a piece of interesting-shape dust on the ceiling..

9.40 – She finally starts to have breakfast

9.44 – ..No, correction: it’s more accurate to say that ‘she sat down next to her plate’.

I, like some high-ranking military training instructor, give her reminders ranging tone from the ‘soft & friendly’ to the ‘loud & powerful’ in all imaginable styles and genres.

My daughter in the meanwhile is kindly asking about my workplace, how things go there, and is giving me some coaching wherever she feels it imperative. She seems to be ready not only to consume her 2-course breakfast within the remaining 35 seconds, but also to address all issues of her mother’s employer.

9.49 – She starts to brush teeth.

We, parents, encourage her tooth-by-tooth.

9.52 – She gets enthusiastic:

‘Mama, papa, this school trip will be such an exciting experience!!’

My husband (in a somber tone):

’My Dearest Daughter, apart from you for all other family members already your leaving home is rather an exciting experience.’

Ps 1: The label on her T-shirt is a summary of her CV.

Ps 2: From among experiencing the above and reporting about it in my blog, it was the latter one being the more fun.

Time flies when you are having fun

Our son (10): ‘Mama, what is a ‘gramophone’?
Me: ‘Walter, it was similar to a record player, and…’
Walter: ‘A recordwhat?’
Our daughter (13): ‘Thanks, Mama, I’ll take over from here, if I may.
Walter, a gramophone was a device on which mama and her friends used to listen to music: they put a big CD on an even bigger machine, and scratched the surface with a needle. Of course, you don’t exactly know what a CD is, being totally outdated technology by now, but what you do need to remember is that gramophone was just like Spotify, only it took funnily big room in the house.’