14 November 2015

A downside of being a foreign mother

I've spent the last week desperately looking for a lampion. And a drak.

It all started last Thursday with a text from Smalls's školka, which was a friendly reminder that at 5 pm, parents were welcome to join the kids for a walk with 'lampiony'.

This was the first I'd heard of this event, and I didn't have time to pick anything up from a shop. Also, 'lampiony' is a general word for lanterns, so I wasn't quite sure what they meant.

'Perhaps they've carved pumpkins. Or made lanterns out of glass jars. Or put candles in paper bags,' I comforted myself. And brought J's beloved flashlight just in case parents were supposed to bring something.

Ten excited kids. Three focused teachers. Ten pleased parents. Nine paper lanterns-on-a-stick with candles merrily burning inside. One little orange flashlight.

So, it turns out that in the context of easily overlooked notices on the noticeboard at školka, 'lampiony' is not, in fact, an all-encompassing word for various lanterns.

'Proč nemáš lampion?' [Why don't you have a lampion?] one of Smalls's friends asked him, while happily waving around his own one.

See, that I understood.

'Protože mám baterku!' [Because I have a flashlight!] Smalls proudly pronounced.

Because you have a foreigner for a mother, I thought.

And, of course, this should have been the end of it. I should have poured myself a lovely cup of tea when we got home and filed this away under Things to Remember When Smalls Slams Doors as a Teenager.

But, then the noticeboard at školka informed me that this week, they would be flying 'draky'.

The blessed chance for redemption!

The word 'draky' can either mean 'dragons' or 'kites'. I was relatively certain that kites were the things required in this case. We already had a kite for Smalls, but it is a cheap affair and I would put the chances of it breaking pre-flight close to 80%.

I could practically hear Smalls's friend again: 'Why don't you have a kite that isn't broken?'

No. I had to prevent this from happening to Smalls.

A new, better kite was required. One that would be sturdy, colourful, impressive. A kite that would be the envy of Smalls' friends and would convince the teachers that I am a good, if sometimes inexplicably foreign, mother.

Also, I decided, while I'm at it, he should have a proper lampion-on-a-stick.

This was, of course, never a logic-based mission. In fact, as I was going from shop to shop, a not-insignificant part of me reminded me that Smalls did, in fact, have a kite and that this really was about guilt and ego more than anything else, wasn't it?

But, sometimes we need to be a little irrational.

Three stationary shops, two book shops, two supermarkets, two toy stores, one Tiger, and three 'Vietnamese' corner shops later and I was the proud, exhausted owner of both a new kite and a lampion-on-a-stick.

I also have a much better understanding now of the goods on offer in Prague shops.

'How was the kite flying today?' I asked Smalls when I picked him up from školka.

'It was ok,' he said. 'I stepped on my kite and it broke.'

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