Thursday, March 6, 2008

Good morning! How ya doin'?


"Hoe gaat het?"

Literal Translation: "How goes it?"

Translation: Let me hear everything that's been going on in your life since the last time we had a chat.

Very much unlike the American way of acknowledging one another (Q: "How are you doing?"  A: "Great!") the Dutch are actually quite honest with one another.  We learned early on not ask a Dutch person how they are doing unless we had several minutes to share in conversation with them.  My husband often got strange looks when he'd pass by a coworkers desk in the morning using our standard polite way of greeting, "Goedemorgen!  Hoe gaat het?" (Good morning!  How ya doin'?)  The coworker would stop what he was doing and stare at my husband with a bewildered look on his face wondering just what he was after.  Surely he didn't want to hear what was up first thing in the morning and why would he be so rude as to interrupt him when he could tell he was in the middle of something?  In America the coworker may not even look away from his monitor and simply reply, "Great!"  Not only that, but you would expect the same reply if the person had just had the best date of their lives the night before or if they'd just come back from their mothers funeral.  Well, yesterday I got a Dutch response.

"Hoe gaat het?"  I asked a woman I don't often chat with but she seemed interested in a little chit chat while we waited.

"Het gaat." (It goes.) I could actually hear the period plunk down at the end of her sentence.  My instinctive response, raising of the eyebrows, was enough to open the gates and with another resounding plunk she slid out the simple statement, "My husband and I are getting a divorce."

I wondered if I again proved myself American after having winced at hearing a statement like that but continued into the murky waters I'd stirred up.  What followed was disturbing as anything surrounding the "D-word" naturally is.  Only she didn't seem to detail the information with the slightest hint at being disturbed.  (This could have been the most disturbing.)  My husband and I both went through our parents divorces as children and will not be so evasive with our thoughts as to say it didn't affect us.  Our chests tighten and our minds bring up years of distorted memories and disturbing discussions whenever we hear of a child being put through the wringer of a parents divorce and yet we "understand" when things are . . . "necessary".  We've spent our lives learning that role so I found it easy to put the face on again while I listened to her reasoning, though I couldn't help but squirm or flinch inside when I heard these two statements:  "He just said he wasn't happy," and "It'll be better for us and the kids."

My husband and I have made it our goal from the beginning of our marriage (13 years this summer!) never to mention the "D-word" and work on our marriage at all costs to keep well away from those troubled waters.  Along our life journey we felt the calling into Marriage Ministries and, as fate is used to doing, we were attacked in that very area of our lives.  Pull out of it we did, but through the process I also heard the statement "I'm not happy," and I also felt it echo through the walls of my own soul.  And though it hurts terribly I feel I have to suggest that it isn't just a last ditch effort to get your spouse to boot you out the door and hopefully into greener pastures but a cry for help?  For love?  Oh, my heart weeps for this couple and their children.  Sigh . . . I feel I have digressed from the point of this entry by traveling a path my heart is sensitive towards. 

So . . . "Hoe gaat het" you ask?  Though I am still in the American frame of mind and normally respond, "Goed, en jij?" (Good, and you?) there are a few moments when I break down the daily episodes of our own General Hospital series.

Jungle Dad had surgery last Wednesday to put in a couple screws to hold the bone together, so we loaded the kids up into the car our friends had loaned us for the occasion by 7am in the morning!  We wheeled Dad into the hospital, gave him a few kisses and waved goodbye before they wheeled him into the surgery room.  The girls picked out a pink flower just for Daddy and ate at the only source of food near the hospital, McDonalds!  Though they'd warned us he'd probably be staying the night, since he was the first operation of the morning he was released that very afternoon.  Still, we did not hear the report we'd wanted to hear.  Earlier we'd been told he would have surgery, get a cast, and have to keep his leg up for two weeks but could walk on it for the last four weeks.  Instead he came out of the surgery with no cast and has to keep it up for two weeks and cannot walk on it during the following four weeks.

He's been steadily chipping away at projects at work from home, but misses all the other work he could be getting done if he was in the office but he does not see any way he can get himself to the bus stop, from the bus to the metro, from the metro to another bus stop for an hour and a half each way twice a day to do it.  So, for the next 5 weeks he'll be at home healing and using the computer for most of the day everyday.  Meaning?  Don't be surprised if I'm not hanging around the land of blog for the next 5 weeks :)  While we're still hanging out around the marriage bandwagon I'd like to state that I'd never quite comprehended the weight of the "in sickness and in health" part of the marriage vows until this last month.  It was hard seeing my husband injured so badly he couldn't take care of himself.  It is also hard taking care of three young children and a husband all day long one day after another.  But I'm getting used to the change in routine and I'm not so prone to bouts of grumpiness as was in the beginning.  Catherine has began to take on a few extra responsibilities and even Li'l Lillian is often seen grabbing a kitchen towel off the rack and wiping up her own little spills now without having been asked!

Before I close up there is one more little thing I must leave you with.  Daddy's situation seemed to have gone unnoticed by our youngest for weeks until one day she happened by his bare leg, eyes height with the long black line from the incision and its thick black stitches holding it together.  Recoiling instantly she cried out, "Owee, Daddy!"  She took a few steps back and with a wrinkled up nose and yet somehow portraying a look of innocent concern she pointed at the ugly blemish and asked sincerely, "Kitty . . . scratch . . . you?"  As if the worst possible injury she can imagine is from that cat.  (I'd have hated to run into the cat that left a scratch like that!)  After several days of having been asked the same question Daddy ended up telling her "the doctor did it".  Great!  Now I'm never getting her into the doctors office again!  But she also hasn't manhandled the cat lately either . . .


Anonymous said...

It is great to see a blog from you again! Now i know how everything goes and that next time you ask, i will ask sincerely if you would like a Dutch or an American answer ;)
love, daphne

Casdok said...

Hope Jungle Dads leg heals well.
And thank you for the translations!!

Janet said...

Oof. That situation with your husband's leg sounds dreadful. I hope he heals quickly.

There is a guy I frequently pass when I'm walking my kids to school who always says, "How ya doin?" I usually answer like a typical North American and say, "Fine." He always gives me a queer look. I think that is just his standard hello and he doesn't want an answer at all. Obviously, he's not Dutch. ;)

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

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slouching mom said...

Oh, I feel for your husband -- and you!

In 2005 I shattered my right leg -- fractured the tibia and the fibula. I had an external fixator for three weeks, surgery to put in 2 plates and ll screws, and was on bed rest (leg up in the air) for four months.

Ugh. It was awful. I hope he heals quickly -- for his sake, and yours, LOL!

Amber said...

Ugh. I hope he has a smooth recovery! Surgery is one thing but mending is another. I fear for the day my poor husband ever has to suffering through my whiny recovery. :-)

Elizabeth said...

What a trying time in the Jungle! I hope the coming weeks move quickly for you guys.

Scoobie81 (Lisa) said...

Sherry! Darling Sherry! I always knew you had a fabulous sense of humor...I just didn't realize HOW fabulous! I am so enjoying reading about how things are going in your life! The kitty scratch has got to be the funniest EVER! Oh my! *wiping tears* Keep up the humor as it looks like you will need it with Jadin not able to walk for quite some time! Gotta put that boy in a rubber room...hmmmm, maybe we should do a rubber room for YOU???? LOL
Love you kiddo!

bibi said...

Hang in there Jungle Mama, the six to eight weeks does pass eventually even if it seems endless. Try to get him hooked on daytime telly or mystery novels, that'll give you a breather. And you must INSIST on afternoon naps! (after all the body heals fastest when asleep, now doesn't it? hee hee!)