Divine Intervention

It's was the longest, coldest, wettest day.  I offered to chaperone a field trip that Caroline's class was taking.  Sounded like a good idea at the time. By the way, I had a mothering epiphany while I was chaperoning.  It a nutshell, it goes something like this, just because I don't want to bake cupcakes or cookies, I am not a bad mother. I just don't always want to bake cupcakes or cookies.

The trip was to an animal park about 35 minutes away. Spend the day with Caroline, check out something new in Switzerland, feed some deer.  But... it's been raining for THREE weeks. That is a long time. You know you have been beaten into the ground when for a rare hour, on an odd day, the sun pokes out and you feel suspicious and somewhat resentful, "Where were you when I needed you? That day when all the kids were gone and I had an hour to myself?" Surely, it will stop raining for this field trip.

It didn't. It was a soaking mess.  Hands began to prune and became frozen in the curled grip needed to hold an umbrella. Everything on me was wet except my socks and boots (for boots I bought on EBAY; they rock).

I gave up my umbrella to a nine year old boy who came woefully under prepared. No raincoat, no boots, a knit hat, and a broken umbrella.  I used his umbrella which was bright pink and had snapped off at the top so the ribs on the umbrella had no means of staying taut. I had a semi-opened umbrella essentially curled around my head.   I marched along anyway.  Swiss don't complain.  In Switzerland, there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.  Caroline announced we needed a raincoat upgrade. Oh, Carolina I am so with you on this...

We watched bears frolic in the rain, fished in the rain, played in the rain, waited for buses in the rain.

Then it was time to go home.

I still had to get kids fed and Lauren to gymnastics.  I caved.  We went to McDonald's. Twice. The first time, I took just Lauren and let her eat in the car on the way to gymnastics and the second time I was by myself picking up for Sam and Caroline.

Going to McDonald's (ignoring the health risks), should be a relatively simple process. Pull up to the drive through, order, swap money for a bag, and leave.  Very American.  Not so fast! It's more complicated than that here.  Here, the person who is supposed to say, "May I take your order please?' says it in GERMAN.  Of course you say, you are living in Switzerland, you dolt.  I'm telling you every fiber in your body (just ask my mother-in-law and her sister-they will back me up on this) is confused by this.  McDonald's is American- good, bad, or otherwise. A culinary safe harbor.  Okay, that was a bad metaphor.  Whatever. It's where a chicken nugget is a chicken nugget. Coke is de rigeur, French fries can kill you and the drive through order is taken in English.

The first time was smooth sailing. I had Lauren. She whispers in my ear the appropriate things to say. It went as anticipated.

The second time I was alone.  No Lauren.  I ordered in German.  This is what I thought I ordered:  a six piece chicken nugget happy meal, with fries, ketchup, and a cheeseburger. That's it.  20ch was plenty.  I pulled up and handed over 20 ch. Her hand stayed extended. I starting dumping random change in her palm until she was satisfied.  She handed me a large Coke, a hot fudge sundae, and a bag. 

I started thinking, 'Is it always me?'  Until recently I was accepting 100% of the blame for language related screw ups. Here is a new possibility... some people in Switzerland may think they have a good command of English when maybe they are pretty good but little things like the days of the week trip them up.  I've been days early for dentist and hair appointments.   I am beginning to think I'm too hard on myself and I should negotiate an 80/20 split- at least 90/10.

Still doesn't explain how I ended up with a sundae. The rest of the order was also wrong but wrong in the way you order shoes but get them in the wrong size. Not as in you ordered a water proof raincoat and got a hot fudge sundae. 

Here's another theory, someone or something may have known about the kind of day I had and the Universe was stepping up with a peace offering.  Divine intervention at McDonald's. In the form of a hot fudge sundae.  Sure. Why not?


  1. The question is...did you eat the hot fudge sunday before you got home and never mentioned it to the kids???

  2. Nope. Shared. :-) 'Cause THAT'S the kind of mother I am. :-)

  3. This time anyway. Things are always subject to change.

  4. ;-) I most certainly will back you up as to the hassle of going to McDonalds. If I recall correctly, the big outdoor menu was in English...just like here and the one taking your order still had no idea what you were talking about....it was hilarious as an onlooker.. As far as your mothering skills, I don't think I have ever known ANYONE with more patience than you!! That patience extended to us as guests as well as for the kids...It was an incredibly wonderful visit all the way around!

  5. Ice creamin my world solves all problems even if its just for a moment :) Every mother has her own secret weapon in mothering for some its cookies and cupcakes for others its giving up their own comfort to give a child comfort such as their working umbrella for their broken one now that my dear is mothering be it your own or someone elses......what a fine example you give to your daughter and someday mother :)

  6. Jen, you really make me laugh - your writing is so funny - and so true! I have also been on the receiving end of the wrong Mc D's order - luckily you got a sundae - I ended up with a salad!!! Plus, you you deserve the Mom Badge of the Year - you failed to mention that you were the only Mom who volunteered to go on the trip! xxx

  7. this was great! Instead of working, I'm reading your blog and laughing at my desk.


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