Life in Poland

Bite your tongue!

From time to time I look back over my blog posts and try to view them from an outsider’s perspective. It is difficult to do. I personally find my blog to be clever and funny (ha, ha) and to represent what it is like to be an American living in Poland. However, my posts may give the impression that I am a sensitive person, or let’s say oversensitive to some issues. I assure you, I am not. I’m pretty laid back, lately even blasé.

But you probably wouldn’t read a blog about an American lady who got up, went to work, came home, went to work and didn’t get riled up about anything, ever. Right?

Our story starts out pretty mundane. I picked up my kids from school on foot as usual. We don’t drive to school because it is close, I have to perform a few left turns against massive traffic to get in there and the school is located on a dead-end. If you manage to drive in there somehow, good luck getting back out. So yesterday with the sun shining, we strolled back home and decided to stop at our local greengrocer on the way.

I was hoping that the owner was working and not the lady who works there. I know that she means no harm, but she says something offensive just about every time we go in there. Once she informed me that she preferred Polish to English. I know, I know –  that is not offensive. My girls prefer Polish to English too. I prefer English to Polish. No problem. But she prefers Polish to English not because it is her mother tongue but because English sounds awful. Cool.

On another visit after learning that we are American and not British, she shared with us that it is not worth vacationing in America because it is a “garbage” country. Cool.

And yesterday. Hello. Hello. Some compliments of my Polish. Some compliments of my English. Super. Great. Some compliments of my daughter. Nice. Some compliments of my son.


I have 2 daughters. My eldest is often mistaken for a boy. Spiderman hat, Spiderman backpack, camouflage pants, a big hole where her front tooth used to be. I understand. I never get angry. Lizzie isn’t upset. All is cool. And that’s what I told the lady, but she apologized profusely anyway. So much so, that I was afraid she was going to take my hand and kiss it and beg for forgiveness. Still as was cool.

But then,

Greengrocer Lady: Umm, you know, Pani,  maybe I shouldn’t say anything.

Mama Bear: You are right. You shouldn’t.

Greengrocer lady who obviously cannot take a hint: But umm, you know Pani, don’t get me wrong, umm, not everyone is so tolerant and aren’t you worried…

Mama Bear: I’m not worried.

Greengrocer Lady who obviously has a death wish: But umm, you know, don’t get me wrong, aren’t you afraid that she’ll grow up to be some kind of freak (dziwoląg!)–you know not a boy but not a girl.

Mama Bear who understands that violence cannot cure stupidity: I’m not worried. Good bye.

Luckily Lizzie was too busy goofing off with Rosie to take any notice, so I didn’t have to explain away the lady’s comments. It’s bad enough I had to explain Passover this week. I’m spent.

I know this lady is not malicious. She’s probably just bored and is lacking in some social finesse. And it just goes to show that I am not oversensitive. I know which battles to fight and I know when to bite my tongue.  Some other people however do not…

A little Lech Walesa in English:

Lech Walesa: No apology for anti-gay comments

Or if you prefer, in Polish. It’s better in Polish.

Wałesa: Homoseksualiści w Sejmie powinni siedzieć za murem


And you can judge for yourself about my beautiful children.

SDC13555 The plan was to take pictures with ducks in the background but Lizzie stepped into action and scared away all the ducks. Her motto is ‘tread loudly and carry a big stick’.



PS Don’t forget that Friday is Women’s Day. I plan to buy something nice for the 2 little ladies in my life.

Catch you later.

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  • Reply
    Asia Prezentuje Prezenty
    March 6, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    Chris, I personally find your blog clever and funny! In fact I find it so funny that the other day when I was reading one of your posts when my little baby girl was asleep on me I was starting to laugh so hard I had to stop reading so that I wouldn't wake her up 😉 and as for your kinds – they are both adorable and I think Lizzy has a very girly smile so that gives away she's not a boy. And when I was her age (and in fact up until I was 12) I used to play football with boys instead of whatever it was the girls were playing and I did not grow up to be a freak – or perhaps I have?

  • Reply
    March 6, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    That lady must be… err… visually impaired?Where did she see a boy?Love your blog!

  • Reply
    March 6, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    Personally find my blog to be clever and funny…Yes, your blog is both clever and funny and after 23 years in USA ( in Washington DC, which brings its own problems these days, but we have a snow day today. and we do not complain for a change today:)) I can relate so well to it. I only wish a good translator would make a column out of it in a good Polish magazine, because chances are some people could learn from your perspective. Hopefully.

  • Reply
    March 6, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    When I was growing up I hated dresses, climbed trees, and dreamed of being a boy so I can pee while standing 😉 In fact in fourth and fifth grade I even talked about myself in masculine form and \”changed\” the ending of my name so it sounded more like a boy's name. As far as I know, there were no similar comments about me. Maybe because back then there was no distinctive girl or boy clothing in Poland, so it wasn't as visible to strangers. I did not grow up to be a freak, at least I think I didn't ;)I like Lizzie and her sense of fashion. Almost as much as I like your sense of humor 🙂

  • Reply
    March 6, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    And that is a main reason why I can't stay in Poland for longer then 3 weeks:)) I have zero tolerance for this kind of comments. 3 weeks I can handle. And I love your blog, there's no question about.

  • Reply
    March 6, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    I should fish for compliments more often. The results are very satisfying. Thank you very much.I am glad to hear from the \”tomboys\” out there who have grown up to be normal, or at least to have managed to keep their freakiness in private.I even today dream of peeing standing up. Oh the freedom of peeing practically anywhere in nature anytime nature calls. Freud was wrong. Women don't have penis envy. We have pee standing up envy.I agree that the Polish version of KS would make a great addition to some Polish magazine. I also put forth that they should pay me huge sums of money for that. Wysokie Obcasy are you listening?Additionally when I become rich and famous for that, they should photo shop my pictures so I can stop wearing make up and stop exercising. And then they should declare a public holiday in my honor…and then they should…I've got a bit carried away and have my heads in the clouds but it was very enjoyable to daydream a bit. …and then Star and I will have an interview together in the magazine that she is the Polish me and I am the American her…and then the paparazzi will start following us and catch me at Carrefour in my sweats. After that there will be divorce rumors from all sides and then…

  • Reply
    March 6, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    Ok, you can at least fix the pee-while-standing envy. I have done it. More info here: also think that your blog is outstanding. You have a great sense of humor and your perspective is priceless. I often recommend it to friends.

  • Reply
    March 6, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    Hey, I need help in translating…can You help me? Aga

  • Reply
    March 6, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    hahaha….In Poland all greengrocer Ladies are the same..:) It is some kind of personality not a profession 🙂 do not worry, it can get worse in summer time…:)Love your blog till bits…lol..;)

  • Reply
    zutor z Wrocławia
    March 6, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    I like your sense of humor!Do you give private lessons? English lessons, of course.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2013 at 6:40 am

    Aneta – I have a newfound respect for you. It probably takes some practice to master the best technique. Who would have thought? And thanks for passing KS along to your friends :)Aga- Maybe. It depends on the type of translation and the length. I've had to turn down some larger translations recently because I just didn't have enough time to do a proper job of it.zutor – Of course. I have a 3-street monopoly in my neighborhood.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    What is normal anyway? And I hope that Walesa is no longer important in Poland. He is still worshiped by the Old Polonia here:(My son's best friend is a girl – she plays with boys, always wears pants, and loves sports. My husband just told her that she knows more about American football than he does. It is funny that she is L's best friend, but his \”girlfriend\” is another girl:) And a girlfriend at 10 is a girl that makes weird faces at you. They never talk. Go figure!I like your blog, read it often! A little bit different story but I used to go to a hairdresser (she was Vietnamese) who told me several times that it was not right for me to only have one child, and that I needed to get busy and have another one. I got busy and found another hairdresser instead. Well – actually my Polish aunts still ask me about the second child – drives me crazy.

  • Reply
    March 8, 2013 at 7:27 am

    Kasia – It's more difficult to find another aunt 😉 Just this year, Lizzie has started to make friends with some girls in her class. Her besties are still all boys and for her at age 6 are just friends. I thought I'd have 10 years to wait for boyfriends but I see that it is coming sooner than expected. We should get to practising our funny faces.

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