The Fastest Way to Start the Day (do-not-try-this-at-home version)

Our son, Walter (10), sleeps in the bedroom next to ours – we also have a common door.
This morning he asks me to dress him up (this negotiation process repeats itself every morning, by the way).
I inform him that this is unfortunately impossible – due to the fact that these moments I myself am hoping to get someone who dresses ME up.
Hearing this, he flies Hippo from his bed to ours, so Hippo will help me get dressed and so I can help Walter..
On the other hand, he himself admits he cannot rely with all this MasterPlan only on a single toy.. so he also flies Chicken, who according to the script will support Hippo in his devoted efforts to dress me up..
My husband wishes success to the mission, and – being pretty good in reading situations quickly – serves breakfast both to me and our son in bed today.

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’?’

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.

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.

Excuse me

We are buying some sweaters to our daughter in NL.
The method recommended by her is the following: I take a photo of her in each piece and then on the basis of the pics she takes the decision.
I pop the question: what if she just takes a look directly in the mirror?
From her look I conclude it was the Ultimate Evidence of Misunderstandings cross Generations. 
I say a quiet ‘sorry’ and back out of the changing room with my eyes downcast.

Blah blah blah

Our son (10) brings home his school report.

He: ‘To sum it up, I have received top scores from basically all subjects, except for ‘free discussion’, from which I got a 3 in a scale of 5.’

Me: ‘How come?’

He: ‘Some of my classmates receive better scores, but they talk about all kinds of pointless blabla, while I only speak when I have something to say.’

Me: ‘But when is this class? Morning or during the day? And what are the topics? And you have to prepare? And..’

He: ‘I have said everything about this subject.’

Me: ‘Ok, I think I get it.’

It’s all perspective

Me (to my 13-yr-old daughter): ‘Can you remind me, please, what the Dutch verb ‘verwennen’ means? I forgot..’

She: ‘It means e.g. when parents pamper their children, do everything for them..’

Me: ‘Ah, now I start to understand. But ‘pamper/do everything for them’ – you mean in the positive or negative sense?’

She: ‘From whose perspective?’

PR

My husband (coming home from work): ‘Santa Claus visited us at work and as I was good the whole year, I got some chocolate..’

Me: ‘OMG that’s huge. May I get from it, too?’

My husband (photo 1): ‘Well, as you can see this is in the shape of an ‘R’, like ‘Robert’, so apparently only people having a first name starting with this letter can get from it.. , no wives starting with ‘P’ like ‘Piros’ can, unfortunately..’

Me (accompanied by the sound of a soft crackling, photo 2):

‘Sorry darling, have you just said something?’

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.’

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.’

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..

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.’

Nuances

I’ve just found back an email: my announcement from 3 years ago made to the parents of our son’s class:

‘Parents of children from 2nd grade – attention attention!

Walter (7ys) invited yesterday already some of his friends for his birthday party in December.

The invitations were perfectly made, only the date, time and location is missing from some of them.

Plus he couldn’t exactly tell who he has already invited.

If you happen to see a mysterious invitation card where – with a bit of luck – the name is indicated, please let me know, and you will receive some additional irrelevant details. Have a nice day all!

Or anything

First of all you need to know I cannot cook. Never could, nor having been any interested. However, I married well: my husband is a great chef 🙂
Me (on Sunday to my 10-yr-old son, who fortunately takes after his papa):
‘It’s great that you are baking a cake!!’
He (in strong encouragement): ‘Mama, I am sure your mom will be also very excited once you bake your first cake.. or anything..’

Parents solve everything

Our son, Walter’s (10) birthday party takes place this afternoon in a playhouse. A lot of toys, pancake and other inevitable ingredients foreseen.

Walter (last night before going to bed, slightly worried):

‘Papa, what would happen if I became ill by tomorrow? All has been organised and been paid..’

My husband: ‘We would solve it Walter, do not worry.’

Walter: ‘Hurraaay!! You are the best papa!’

My husband: ‘..As I said we would solve it. We would look for another boy aged 10, named Walter, and go for the party..’

Nostalgia

Hungarian grandma calling her grandson in Belgium:

‘What would you like for Christmas?’

He (10): ‘A Monopoly!’

Grandma: ‘But I remember you have already such a board game at home..’

He: ‘The Hungarian version is much better.’

Grandma (touched by this 2nd generation nationalism): ‘Better, right? You also prefer the things which are from your motherland..’

He: ‘Yes! In the Hungarian Monopoly we don’t pay tax..’

Me big – she small

If Saturday, it is table tennis lesson for my daughter.

It’s me biking with her to the training.

Suddenly, on our way, I realise that she is wearing the wrong shoes (black street footwear instead of sporty ones), so I suggest her to play bare footed today (as 2nd best option).

She (studying my outfit): ‘Or, mama, as you are wearing your white sneakers, maybe to simply change shoes for the training..’

Me (patronisingly): ‘Creative idea, Sweetheart, indeed, but of course there is no way our sizes match..’

The photo is taken of me already on the bench.

Love is love

Last night I was home alone with the children (my husband being abroad for work).

With my son (10) we are watching videos by Queen on YouTube.

Me (showing him the below photos): ‘..And so he was Freddie Mercury.’

He (carefully studying the pictures): ‘They must have been very good friends, since they are together on a lot of photos.’

Me: ‘In fact, that gentleman was his love.’

He (truly surprised): ‘That other man with the moustache?’

Me: ‘Yep. It happens.’

He:

‘I see.

It’s good to be loved so much.’

That’s it, basically.

Thiiiings can only get better

My husband (during morning preparations): ‘Noëmi, go down please to the living room, but first dress up all by yourself, and then have something for breakfast which is not biscuits, but preferably something healthy.’

Noëmi (13) turning her eyes towards the ceiling in despair): ‘So many unpleasant news, and the day has just started..’

Should not wait till the last moment..

Last night, visiting the children’s room to check if everything is peaceful. Well, Walter, our son (10), isn’t. He cannot get to sleep.

Walter: ‘I need to ask something. What if our shower once breaks down?’

Me (not a bit raising my eyebrows that this is an issue that we need to address at 21.30 without further delay):

‘It won’t. Our bathroom is new, together with the shower – all accessories in excellent health.’

Walter (not less concerned): ‘But once it does break down when I am a grandpa – what shall I do then?’

Me: ‘You are the planning type, right?’

Walter: ‘…or when you and papa are already dead – who shall I turn to??’

Me: ‘Okay-okay, I get it now. I promise that before I die, I will draft you a list with the most crucial phone numbers.’

Walter (with extra portion relief in his voice): ‘Very good. Thanks. I love you, mom.’

Me: ‘I love you, too.’

And with this, he fell asleep.

Personalised offer

Me (upset, to my husband):
‘Guess what.  I am just reserving flight tickets for the summer, and if I book for the 4 of us, the ticket price is x EUR. 
But if I include my mum as 5th person in our booking, each ticket is calculated at a 10 EUR higher price..
So the air company must be using a different pricing from 5 persons in a group.. Would you call it ‘customer centric’??’
My husband (in a helpful, objective tone): 
‘It depends. Any chance they know your mum?’
______________
Én (meglepetten/ bosszankodva repülőjegy foglalás közben): 
“Huu mire jöttem rá: ha négyünknek akarok csak jegyet venni, akkor a jegyár/db = iksz EUR, ha viszont anyukámat is a mi foglalásunkba teszem, akkor minden jegyet 10 EUR-ral drágábban számol..!! Ezek szerint 5 főtől magasabb árat számol a légitársaság..”
 
Házastársam (semleges arckifejezéssel, segítőkész hanghordozással): “Nem lehet, hogy csak ismerik anyukádat?”

Antwerp – home of fashion

Today with my daughter (13) I participated in a guided tour – ‘Antwerp Fashion Walk’ – where we got a short summary of the history of the most famous local designers & brands, and could look into some of the collections as well.
My opinion about the exhibited pieces was best expressed by my daughter, saying: 
‘Out of the 1000 pieces I would put on 2 – provided I was paid enough..’
_____________
Ma Noémivel (13) anya-lánya programon vettünk részt: Antwerpeni Divat Séta – kiscsoportos vezetett túra a legfőbb helyi tervezők és brandek életútjának rövid áttekintésével, valamint a kollekció egyes darabjainak megtekintésével.
A bemutatott darabokról alkotott véleményem lányom foglalta össze legtalálóbban:
“Az 1000-ből kb 2-t felvennék – ha sokat fizetnének érte.”

Complexity reduction

One evening we are returning from the beach.

My children are quarrelling with each other – just like usual: it has been a long day, and they are cold.

But then they realise: we have a blanket with us!

One.

And with this, we have found the basic recipe for world-peace: fewer blankets than freezing angry people.

Things are usually more simple than they might seem.