Slide RulesAugust 1, 2011 at 6:00 am | Posted in Giggles, Lollipop, Transylvania | 13 Comments
Tags: Children, Expats, Kids, Outdoors, Parenting, Perspectives, Play, Rain, Romania, Summer
There’s a saying in Romania. Asta e. That’s the way it is.
Because everything was horrible and nothing ever changed under Communism, people here tend to be stoic, resigned, apathetic even. Even as they feel their way through democracy and membership in the EU, they shrug their shoulders at problems big and small, from corruption to potholes.
They don’t think much about how to make things better. Because asta e. That’s the way it is.
I found myself smack in the middle of this mindset the other day. We discovered a new playground, and I took Lollipop and Giggles to explore. It had horse swings! And a super-tall, super-twisty slide! And parking places! (Okay, that last part was my favorite.) It also had lots of asphalt, something our usual haunts lack, which had turned them into goopy, muddy messes after a few days of solid rain.
The kiddos chased pigeons and frolicked on the swings for a while before trying out the slide. I showed them the semi-hidden ladder, and they headed up. One of the dads there touched my shoulder and pointed. “Nu,” he said, “apă.” No. Water. I followed his finger and saw about a gallon (two? three? a lot!) of rain pooled at the bottom of the slide.
I hollered up at Lollipop and Giggles to hold on a minute. I got down and scooped out the water with my hands. Then I took off my jacket and used the sleeve to soak up what was left. “Okaaaaay,” I yelled up at the kids. (Did I mention this slide was really, really tall?) “You can come on dooooown!”
And suddenly kids came from everywhere. They abandoned their swings, their seesaws, their snacks. They dashed for the ladder. Up they went, down they slid, again and again. Taking turns. Going head first. Cheering each other on.
I looked around at the moms, dads, nannies, and grandparents. They sat on park benches. They stood watch on the sidewalk. They smoked in the corner. And, soon, they were cheering, too. “Bravo!” one grandfather with the cutest beanie cap ever said to Giggles after a particularly rough landing. “Bravo!”
I stood there kind of stupefied, holding my sopping jacket and blinking a lot. Surely it had occurred to someone else to clean off the slide before we got there? Right? Surely?
But no. Because it’s summer. And it’s the rainy season. And the slides get wet. And asta e.
That’s the way it is. Except when you don’t know it.
Have you ever encountered a cultural mindset that goes against your own? How did you handle it? And would you have cleaned off the slide?