For new readers: This year we took in two foreign exchange students, known here as China (16, boy) and Denmark (16, girl), making our home the U.N. for ten months. Our youngest son, Little Man (15), represents the U.S. Our middle son, Middle Man (19, soph. in college) attended high school in Canada and so represents Canada. Our eldest daughter, Principessa (22, a Sr in college) spent 1.5 yrs in Israel, so represents her spiritual home, Israel, at the U.N. As head of this multi-National group, and the writer of this blog, I am the Secretary General. I try my best to rule with a fair and steady hand and to find humor whenever possible. There’s plenty of it… but some days, well…
Relationships within the U.N. have continued to develop in positive ways over the five weeks since Denmark and China joined the assembly. Initially, all countries strived for (overly) positive interactions, though the Secretary General (a title I am claiming, here and now) believes that initial efforts were unrealistically zealous. All sides have now settled to more sustainable interactions. Early on, Denmark and China were careful not to upset the U.S., clearly aware that he had sovereign domain in the hearts of the Secretary General and Hubby. While eager to build positive connections to the leadership, Denmark and China were savvy in their efforts to not push the U.S. out of this dominant role. Wise strategy in the long run, as U.S. has clearly forged positive new ties with both nations and is happy to share the parental wealth. Now, all sides are able to manage reasonable disagreements, maintain humor most times and call “shotgun” for the car, without the need for arbitration.
China suggested that using less electronics might be a positive step toward nurturing other creative enterprises. He shared that when he was young, and China (the actual country) was “not as wealthy,” his family did not have a computer at home. He and his friends would play a simple game using a hoop and stick. “I was very happy then,” he wistfully lamented. The Secretary General and US practiced diplomacy and said nothing. We are aware that this is a fairly antiquated game, that was played during the birth of our nation, now only <–in Amish communities. Thus, proving that China (nation) is not in fact ahead in everything.
China removed several games from his laptop and has been trying to spend less time on line. U.S. is strongly opposed to such actions and believes China is not stable.
Denmark asked if she could join other exchange students, in another town (about 40 minutes from here) for their post-Homecoming activities. “They are getting a limo and will go out after the dance. They invited me to come too!” Secretary Gen.: “After the dance? What are their plans? That would be quite late at night.” Denmark (deer in the headlights expression): “I don’t know what they will do.” Negotiations came to an abrupt halt as Secretary General vetoed all limo plans, with other nations, to unknown destinations.
China suggested a jigsaw puzzle as a family activity. Secretary Gen. had purchased a 2,000 piece World Puzzle last summer. All parties are now passionately involved in puzzle building. While Denmark started on very easy sections, then gloated, she has redeemed herself with the Kremlin. Several negotiating terms have come to light in the process: Puzzle Whore: a person who waits until others gather all the pieces, does most of the construction and then swoops in to finish what that person worked hard on. (China seems to be vying for this role). Puzzle Tyrant: someone who accuses everyone else of moving their pieces, turning pieces over or other similar nonsense. (U.S. is the front runner here). Puzzle Pig: someone who claims too many sections for themselves. (This may be the U.S. as well). Puzzle etiquette: rule #1: never, ever finish someone else’s section. Ever. Ever. Puzzle Stalker: someone who doesn’t participate, but stalks the puzzle and slips pieces in occasionally. (Hubby, the clear winner) Puzzle Queen: ahem, clear winner: Secretary General. It’s my blog.
U.S.: “Hey China, how has it been without Warcraft (video game)?” China: “Life is so much more colorful without video games!” ”ohhh, that’s so sweet!” Denmark and Sec.Gen were charmed. U.S.: “Man, you are such a Taoist!” China: “Taoist?”
It has been firmly established that China has terrible taste in music, preferring Backstreet Boys, Avril Lavigne and other (older) pop stars. Denmark has eclectic taste, bringing some interesting new artists to the US’s already extensive iTunes library. (Of note, most music in the library belongs to the Sec. Gen. or Principessa/ Israel) Denmark denies that the pop music in her collection is indeed “pop.” The U.S. strongly disagrees and points out that even Danes can sound an awful lot like Rihanna/Brittany/insert female pop flavor of the year.
Having been invited to dinner at friend’s house recently, we brought a collection of “Moon Cakes” that were a gift from (other) Chinese friends. Moon cakes are round cookie-like baked goods, that have various fillings: bean paste, lotus, dried fruit, etc. These were authentic, beautiful to look at, and most of them were interesting to eat. <—However, only China appreciated the variety “salty egg.” That yellow circle is the salty yolk. It’s really an acquired taste! I think you need to be Chinese.
U.S., China, Secretary General and Hubby are all trying to find ways to halt the excessive use of perfume by Denmark. Negotiations have stalled thus far. This delicate issue requires delicate intervention, and may result in sanctions against all perfume use to maintain healthy air quality.
China is very amused (and surprised) by how many things are “made in China.” Other nations are not.
Food issues have subsided a bit. Dinners are increasingly well received, especially when Sec.General’s homemade BBQ sauce is used, or an apple or peach crisp is made for dessert. This leads to generally favorable responses by all nations involved. Sec.General believes that the 7x taste theory does indeed work.
Sec. Gen, U.S. and China had a heated debate over whether tigers are eaten in China (nation). While China was skeptical of Google findings (“controlled by the government”), which showed this to be true, he finally acquiesced and agreed that it might be possible. Several days later, while shopping at Fred Meyers (loaded with college students), China said very loudly to the Sec. Gen, “Ma, where can we get the tiger meat?” College students all looked our way. Sec. Gen: “It’s in the endangered meat isle, but only the Chinese eat it.” China: “I think maybe only Hong Kong, not Mainland.” There was some very serious staring. China and Sec. Gen. share a dark, wicked dry sense of humor.
Fair Trade has been established in managing chores. When Denmark has Choir on dish night, she will trade for dog walking. Workers are fairly compensated.
China: “Ma, there is a Chinese girl at school who wants to go to Homecoming with the U.S.” U.S.: “Don’t tell her anything!” Brief stand-off between China and U.S. All dialogue has stopped and there has been no more leaks regarding possible Homecoming dates. Secretary General is seeking alternative information sources.
The General Assembly is working hard for continued good relations. Leaders are satisfied with current status in all Nations.
(Please note that size does not indicate national superiority. Unless you’re China.)
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