things you never knew you never knew

Ten things I’ve learned during my first week as an au pair:

  1. If you are offered coffee, you take it. Espresso is actually pretty good with some (read: lots of) sugar, and you’ll need the boost of energy.
  2. That being said, if someone offers you time to rest or take a break, you take that too. Pretty soon it’ll be time to chase three little ones around again for who knows how long, and you’ll want to be as rested as possible.
  3. French boucheries (butcher shops) really do sell horse meat, right next to their chicken, pig, and cow offerings. However, I don’t think I’ll be testing for taste any time soon.
  4. Baguettes are really useful (and, in fact, are meant to be used) for keeping your food from moving when you are picking it up with your fork, and for wiping your plate clean when you’ve finished eating.
  5. When clearing a table, you always leave the glasses and water there. Dessert is coming. [Jeff approached me yesterday and said, “Allie…you never take off the water glasses.” and now I’m sure I’ll never forget].
  6. After taking food out of the fridge, open it up right away to give it time to breathe before you eat it [at least this is the rule with fruit…not sure about other foods].
  7. A little boy dressed like a zebra dancing with a little girl dressed as a cheetah to the French version of “can you feel the love tonight” might just be the cutest thing to ever happen. Always carry kleenex.
  8. Language “barriers” aren’t always barriers. Yes, I’m the only one here who speaks English as a native language, and yes sometimes that’s weird, and sure it’s true that I don’t always understand what the kids or parents are saying in French, but I know enough French and they know enough English (and are actually very good at speaking it) that we always figure it out. In fact, I can’t say I’ve ever been super frustrated with this strange French/Italian/English language mashup. Above all else, the language “barrier” that one might experience as an au pair (or studying abroad, living abroad, etc.) has been more of an language exchange and linguistic education than anything else. Sure one could say that having three different native languages in one household makes things more difficult, but it also makes things so much more interesting.
  9. Relating to that, differences in languages and culture are no barriers to connection, as long as you are willing to give and to receive, to teach and to learn, to help and to be helped, and, perhaps beyond all, to love and be loved. These kids and I experienced this love in just hours, and their parents have been beyond hospitable and kind. It seems like I’ve known them all for ages, and it’s been only a week.
  10. Sometimes, doing things you can’t imagine doing, things you are beyond scared to do, things that both excite and terrify you beyond measure, is the best possible thing to do. You might find yourself on the other side of the world, walking in the footsteps of strangers and learning things you never knew you never knew.
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3 thoughts on “things you never knew you never knew

  1. Allie, I truly love your blog entries. It’s amazing how much we can learn as we step out of our comfort zone . Enjoy the ridr

    Like

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