joining the mom community is all about putting yourself out there and meeting new people. connecting. finding friends for your little one, which pretty much feels like dating all over again. looking for mom friends isn’t easy. in general, talking to strangers isn’t easy. you’re vulnerable, it’s awkward, and you may end up making a fool of yourself. but i decided to just dive right in. but not in the way that i probably should have. here is a blurp of an email i sent my good friend, erin, recently of an encounter that went not at all how i had hoped… enjoy :).
“let me set the scene. i am at a play space on the third floor of the mall.
jake is off playing on what looks like a watermelon, but is really a fish.
i sit next to a grandma smiling at him.
“what is that supposed to be?” i point at the watermelon/fish.
she shakes her head apologetically. waves her hands helplessly, “italiano.”
for some reason, i am possessed by this overwhelming feeling of enthusiasm and determination to let this woman know that i adore italy so i attempt to speak completely indecipherable italian to her.
“permiso!” i cry out, robustly, the first word that comes into my brain. which means, excuse me.
“ah!” she nods approvingly. “permiso,” she repeats with a smile, approving of what i am assuming is my accent.
“excusi!” i continue, which means, excuse me.
again, she nods her head, repeats, “excusi.”
“si!” i throw out there, hoping that i’m not reverting to spanish. luckily, it turns out “yes” is actually “si” in italian.
there’s a pause.
“toilete!” i say with a proud flourish. i just said “toilet” to the woman. i should have stopped here but i didn’t.
she gestures over to jacob, who has a glazed look on his face. perhaps he senses his mother’s idiocy. she ticks off her fingers, and i quickly guess she is asking how old he is.
i hold up a very erect finger, “ONE.” i say, in a bold tone that should only be reserved for the hearing impaired, not for foreigners.
“un ano!” she says with a smile.
“and…AND DUE!” i say excitedly, holding up again, two very erect fingers. the grandmother looks confused again, looking between my fingers and jacob. now i can see what she is thinking. “but you just say he was one year old….”
“oh!” i say suddenly, “un, due…and…THREE!” i desperately hold up three fingers, hoping she understands that for god knows what reason, i am attempting to count to the woman in italian, which is utterly pointless because, well….i DON’T KNOW ITALIAN.
“due ano?” she looks bewildered.
“no…” i say despairingly…”un ano….” she looks stumped.
in one last attempt, i say, “rome?”
she calls over her kids to come translate, speaking rapid italian, which i’m pretty sure means, “kids, come over and tell me what this crazy lady is saying!”
three girls gather around me, and i begin to feel nervous.
“how do you say rome in italian?” i ask timidly.
“how am i supposed to know? i’m only half italian.”
suddenly, i remember! “ROMA!”
i turn to the grandma. “ROMA ES BELLISIMO!”
“bella?” she offered.
“si…” i say again.
i finally shut up and pretend to take pictures of jake as i slump away totally humiliated.
so here is my lesson….if you don’t speak the language, don’t even try…..just don’t do it…..”
but really…what is my lesson? just dust yourself off and try again. meeting new people is all about making an idiot out of yourself and being okay with that.