Friday, December 28, 2012

Ze Germans are Everywhere

Isn't traveling with kids fun?

Wait, you don't think it is either?  Whew, now I feel much better.

Certain parts of traveling cause me a GREAT amount of anxiety, and having children along for the ride only makes it worse.  I stress about packing.  I stress about getting everyone into the car.  I stress about making sure we arrive with plenty of time to park, haul all our gear into the airport, drop off our checked luggage, get through security, and get to the gate.  Once we are finally at the gate, my muscles begin to unclench and my nerves somewhat subside at the realization that we have done everything within our control to make sure we got here on time.  I figure the rest is in the hands of people who get paid for that kind of thing.

Naturally, on our way to the airport Andy's GPS decided to take us on a route that might have actually delivered us to the airport in 1987, but in 2012 only delivered us to a ROAD CLOSED sign.  By the time we actually parked, it was pouring down rain and I was very near nervous breakdown status.  The security line wasn't long and they very nicely waved us over to the quicker line with our double stroller, 2 car seats, 2 backpacks, 1 rolling suitcase, 1 purse, and two very squirmy girls.  The girls didn't even have to take their shoes off.  As I'm standing there explaining to Annika what was going on (in German) and how yes all of these people probably speak English but some of them might speak German, the gentleman in front of us turned around and started speaking German with us.  He had studied German in college and apologized profusely for his poor accent, which made me laugh, because I have a very serious American accent in German too that he apparently didn't notice.

Our flight from Louisville to Atlanta was delayed, for some reason I don't even remember.  We missed our connection, but ran through the airport to the gate of the next flight to Tampa to get put on standby.  The girls were seriously over the whole travel thing at this point.  They were restless and completely NOT understanding of all the snafus we were dealing with right then.  I was  letting them run around, within reason in my perspective, but a nice ATL employee driving one of those annoying golf carts through the airport didn't think so.  She yelled, "Lady, you need to get your children under control."  I wasn't having it.  I yelled back, "Lady, I can't make them sit for 12 hours straight.  They are 2 & 4 years old."  I then turned to the room full of strangers of whom half had given me the stink-eye since we had arrived at their gate 10 minutes prior, and said, yelled, "And if anyone else has any parenting advice they would like to give me or would like to volunteer to babysit, I'd be happy to hear it."  Andy was mortified and rolled his eyes to let me know when I looked at him, but he missed the 70+ lady standing in front of him who nodded her head and gave me a thumbs up.

2 minutes later after recounting the whole scene to my Dad on the phone using a few choice words of German so as not to offend any eavesdroppers, a 19 year old boy started playing football with Annika.  It was a dream!  I thanked him immediately, and noticed his accent.  He was GERMAN!  We chatted in German and I apologized for my swearing.  He laughed.  When he walked away, Annika told me, "I just fell in love with him Mommy."  She wouldn't stop waving at him as we boarded the plane on which he was already seated.  (Side note: Thank you to Chicago for cancelling so many flights.  I'm SURE that's how we all 4 got off standby and on the plane to Tampa!)

A couple days later, I went up to the exercise room in the building to hide from my kids run on the treadmill while looking at the Gulf of Mexico.  I had some trouble finding the on button (which probably surprises no one) and the nice lady next to me helped me.  I noticed she was reading smutty fiction auf Deutsch.  She was GERMAN.  We had a nice conversation and she left.  Her partner then came in and chatted me up auf Deutsch while I stretched after finishing.  (He had some very interesting views on gun control and housing standards.)  They made fun of Berliners, I made fun of all Germans, and we related how difficult it can be to be a foreigner living and trying to actually do things in both countries.

3 Germans and 1 fellow German-speaking American...other than the ones I already know in Florida.  Ze Germans really ARE everywhere, and are soo majorly happy when you speak their language.  I was amazed at how quickly I fell back into speaking German with other adults AND by how little vocabulary I have for things like architecture and guns.  I don't foresee that improving either way though.  All 3 times, it certainly was a welcome surprise to hear a very familiar language and to relate a little bit of our crazy experiences of the last year to people who can understand.  Moving back has been MUCH harder than I honestly ever expected, and I continue to struggle, but I wouldn't change any of our experiences thus far.    

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