A Day in the Life of Perfect Parenting

I had the pleasure of reading this hilarity from McSweeney’s Internet Tendency thanks to my favorite sister-in-law Erin. I highly recommend it for anyone who dabbles in the meditative-chakra-Non GMO-fermented-bountiful universe-wheatgrass smoothie lifestyle. I felt that a response to this article was necessary in the form of how perfect our family is. Specifically regarding the act of our perfect parenting and positive thinking.

 

At 5:30 in the morning, I breathe deeply through my nose as a 5 year old human, named Milan, taps my forehead. The perfect alarm clock. While she claps her hands at me to signal feeding time at the zoo, I spring out of bed and blissfully stroll to the kitchen for breakfast prep. I attribute the fact that my daughter treats me like a trained circus animal to our reverse-helicopter parenting approach. Let them run free and reap what you sow!

 

To start the day off on the right foot I begin to scramble 3 farm fresh, cage free, extra happy, unvaccinated eggs from chickens that roam the alpine pastures of Switzerland. Mid-scramble, the male half of our 4 year old twins – Hendrick – appears. In typical fashion, he is grinning ear-to-ear and gives me a warm hug followed by his morning refrain “Good morning Daddy, I love you, I would like rice, apple fritters and kale chips for breakfast.” To which I reply “Morning CHAMP! You got it!” During this exchange with my son, Milan is informing me that she will be having meatballs and porridge for her morning meal.

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What’s a HD?

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“Hey, look at me! I’m a PARENT!”

What do you suppose the abbreviation HD stands for? Being a car guy, I would first go with Heavy Duty, as in pickup truck. Next, Hi Def television. Then maybe Hodor Hodor Hodor. But in the context of an English-Speaking-Parents Facebook group I belong to here in Switzerland, it means House Dad.

As in “Oh yeah, I have a HD, he’s looking for a drinking buddy too.”
Or “My neighbor is a HD, he looks like he’s always wearing pajamas.”

It turns out I’m a HD, well sort of a part time HD. Like Michael Keaton in Mr. Mom, but speaking Frenglish and threatening to beat my children with noodles.

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Swiss Coffee

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I even have the mug!

I used to daydream about surfing in Polynesia and howling Ferrari V12’s. Today, I still fantasize of such wonderful things but the daily wandering thoughts are DOMINATED by something much more critical to my survival. Coffee. Falling asleep at night, I think about my first cup in the morning. In the morning, I ponder if I’ll have 3 or 4 cups on this day. At lunch time, my tongue lolls at the thought of après-lunch liquid gold.

There’s a great saying, represented most commonly in hashtag form, floating around social media – But First Coffee. This mentality can be applied to anything, much like adding “in bed” to the end of fortune cookie wisdom.

“I have to go to work.” But first coffee.

“I have to feed the children.” But first coffee.

“I have to breathe oxygen.” But first coffee.

You get the idea.

Or at least I do. Because this is my reality. I’m addicted to it and I love it. Not a love/hate sort of thing, just true love. I may be the worst Catholic of all time based on my record of attending mass (because never) but I have my own goddess and her name is Coffee. I worship at her temple 7 days a week, 365 days a year. I do have limits which is why I don’t say 24 hours a day but certainly it’s more than a doctor likely recommends.

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International Parties

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They look so calm here…

This past weekend made us 1-for-2 on attending international birthday parties. Two Sunday’s ago we were skunked on our car rental meaning no party for the children. Which was exceptionally awful considering we had rented helmets and purchased sleds for the kiddos. Though I should be saying sledging as that is how the Swiss refer to it. Of course, watching Hendrick rocket down a hill on a plastic disc – trying to crash into his friends no doubt – is not exactly what I would imagine as a stress-free afternoon so perhaps it was for the best.

 

We had better luck this past Sunday since we needed only ride the train 1 stop and walk to our destination in La Tour De Peilz. The birthday girl’s parents did a great job on the party site. Basically a room with some tables and a snugly closed door meant the pack of 4 year old asylum patients were completely contained and ready to bounce off the walls while the parents sipped wine and chatted.

 

It was a strange déjà vu moment for me. 16 odd years ago, I was spending a college semester in Budapest taking in the culture and, uh, studying. We had an apartment that was also basically a room with some tables and a pack of wild inmates. Only in this hazy memory, there were no parents present and the wine being consumed was by the bottle instead of by the Dixie cup. I don’t recall if it was a birthday party but we did play games and certainly bounced off the walls.

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Swiss Christmas Stender

Is it 2017? Oh yes, it is. How is that possible? I cannot say. But the last 6 months have felt like a blur. A glorious, always-new-horizons kind of blur. So it seemed like the right time for a post. Do I have any New Year’s resolutions? Nope. But we DID have a fantastic Christmas season which is much more important than pretending I’m going to drink less beer this year.

 

My mom came for a nice extended visit here in Switzerland. I met her at the airport in Geneva and we spent the day cruising the city. The city is a feast – of wealth as seen by Ferrari FF’s and tangerine sized diamond necklaces in store windows. But also of food – as enjoyed at the lunch joint named Au Pied de Cochon or The Foot of The Pig, which instantly appealed to my inner meativore.

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Christmas in Switzerland: Advent Calendars

Christmas is coming and we’re soaking it all in here in Switzerland. Some traditions are new, some familiar and some have left us scratching our head. But I would say that on the whole, Christmas is a bigger deal here than in the States. We’re in a smallish city and it looks like Santa’s workshop everywhere you go.

For instance, the jewelry store around the corner has decorated the outside of their windows with stacks of cut wood, trimmed with garland and holiday trinkets. And that’s just the outside. There are many topics to cover, today we’ll look at advent calendars.

I’ve been out of the advent calendar scene for many years so perhaps I’m just not up to date on the happenings in this industry. I remember, as a kid, calendars that you opened each day to find a piece of chocolate inside. Knowing that a Swiss human eats around 20 POUNDS of chocolate per year, I figured we’d have plenty of options. On a side note, Americans eat roughly 9 ½ pounds of chocolate, per person, annually. And they say we’re savages!

As expected, there were endless selections of chocolate themed advent calendars. The stores are stuffed to the gills with them. At the other end of the scale, you could spend nearly $50 on a calendar that reveals a different plastic doodad each day, culminating in a fully functioning remote controlled drone. EXCUSE-MOI!?

We went for the middle ground, thinking in our infinite wisdom we would be doing the kids a favor by not serving them candy each morning. PlayMobil makes advent calendars that unveil a new toy each day leading to the creation of a fully functioning play set. Pirates are a theme – which Hendrick chose – or farm animals – Maren’s pick. Milan, however, keyed on the calendar with shiny jewels all over the packaging.

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1 of 4: A seemingly innocuous lineup of advent calendars

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LIVING IN SWITZERLAND: 3 OF 3

I thought I could fit this all in 1 blog post but I know Tyler doesn’t like to read more than 1 paragraph at a time so I try to keep that in mind. Today’s post is a continuation of this post. This is last part of the 3 part series.

 

Jiu-Jitsu

I’ve found a local gym with a great jiu-jitsu class. The instructor, and most of the students, don’t speak English. The results are interesting.

Throws

The approach here is different from what I was practicing in St. Louis and involves a lot more throws. One technique involved someone running at you, you grabbing them and tossing them onto their back. BUT, the key here was to grab them, then effectively sit down/fall backwards while throwing them over your shoulder. I missed the whole sitting down thing and instead was bodily heaving people across the mats. Marc, the instructor, tried explaining it to me in French but then gave the universal sign for “It’s ok, you’re a buffoon, continue”. Of course once I saw someone else do it, I understood.

Lesson for Grasshopper – Don’t go first

 

Rolling

At the end of the class, there’s some freestyle rolling with a partner. My first day on the job, I assumed this was like how it was done in St. Louis – roll until one person submits the other. But out of the gate, I could tell something was different. My partner would suddenly stop trying to submit me. So I would stop. Then he would say something in French and sort of point/flail his arms. I would look at him confused. He would start up again. I would be unsure. Very odd. But what I ultimately learned – after the fact – was that he was not wearing a cup – between his legs. This was clear when my knee, accidentally, found its way to that area that all men fear and he squealed like a stuck pig. Horrorstruck, I asked what happened.  He pointed to his groin and said “BALLS!”

Lesson for Grasshopper – Some things are universally understood

Swiss Things of Note

  • Swiss people consider Americans friendly. Unless you yell at them, slowly in English like they’re deaf idiots – “WHERE…IZZZ…THEEE BATH-ROOOOM!?”. Which we don’t.
  • You can pick up a rental car by entering a 5 digit code into a parking lot lockbox, on the side of a pole, and drive away with no rental agency in site. You can also fill up a gas tank with diesel. Even if it takes unleaded. Or so I’ve heard…
  • Vanilla extract as we know it in the States is not available. But their molasses-like vanilla syrup is pretty damn good.
  • Fondue is awesome in French Switzerland. So are croissants filled with ham, chocolate, mushrooms and produce. But the best food is found in the German sector – because burgers. And bratwurst. And also beer.
  • The Elsa doll from Frozen, speaks French here. I hate you Disney.
  • Using Google translate to figure out how to cook a box of frozen macaroni and cheese is a crap shoot. For example, here are the directions in French:

Cuire les macaronis montagnards surgeles sur la grille du four prechauffe selon les instructions. 

  • And here they are, in “English”, after being entered into Google translate:

Cook the macaroni frozen mountain on the gate of the preheated oven according to instructions.

Ahhh, that’s so much more helpful than the French version. Thanks Google.