I go to these sort of events always with both trepidation and anticipation. How ostracized will I feel? How much Norwegian won't I understand? But also feeling happy to get out of the house and socialize, happy to get out of Lillehammer (even by just 25km) and into some new environs.
I would call this outing a success*, albeit with that pesky asterisk. Excuse my brief foray into Mommy-Blog, but I feel the need to vent:
Greta's the kind of toddler who thrives on a schedule, and who also really needs her sleep. She's an 11.5 hour at night, 1-2.5 hour napper kind of kid. Bedtime is 7:45pm. So, around 8:30pm last night, after eating loads of cake and charming the bukser off the Norwegians and Americans alike, Greta and I headed to our room for bedtime. She had been so excited about sleeping in her pack and play again. We did the general routine (teeth, books, binky, goodnight songs), into the pack and play. I won't get into the details, but let's just fast forward three hours later, and this child is still awake! She pulled out every delay tactic I could have imagined (okay, here are the gory details), including pooping in the only diaper we had along with us (c'mon! She's potty trained! She uses one diaper a night! Why do I need extras?), then peeing in the too-small emergency diaper I miraculously located in the car, unlocking and opening the door to the veranda next to her pack and play (calling out "Mamma! The door's open!"), switching to a big-girl bed, climbing out of bed to "check on something in my bag", refusing to close her eyes after professing a desire to "nap", and somehow convincing me that cuddling with her in the big girl bed would actually be helpful.
Around midnight she was asleep. I was exhausted, frustrated, now in pajamas, and had missed 3 hours of the party. (In Erik's defense, he offered help but I sent him back to the Norwegians, on whom I was blaming this disastrous bedtime). It felt like a really crummy way to end a fun evening, but I was in no mood to return to the winding down party.
But I rallied, got dressed again, put on some lipstick, and rejoined the party. Around 1am Erik and I were cornered by a somewhat tipsy Norwegian aunt and uncle (educators of some sort). After chastising their new nephew-in-law on his lack of Norwegian skills after living here for over 2 years, told us over and over, in no uncertain terms how impressed they were with our Norwegian skills. Specifically, my Norwegian skills. Over and over. . . "Americans. . . speaking such good Norwegian. . . it is just so impressive, I am so impressed. . . ". To be clear: this was said in Norwegian, not English.
Now, Erik has impressive Norwegian (for a non-native). Norwegians try to pin him down. . ."where are you from?" "what's that dialect?" Some assume he was raised here as a child, but moved away; others that his parents were Norwegian, and it was spoken at home; some that he grew up in a different region of the country. This particular Norwegian uncle seemed rather impressed by his ability to speak in a Voss dialect (a region where he spent his first year of Norway, from 1993-94), and understand certain quirks of the dialects. And it is impressive: he went to school in two very distinct regions of the country, two distinct dialects, for under two years. And then returned to the United States for 15 years before returning to Norway!
But for this tipsy uncle to be saying to me, "after just 10 months. . . very impressive, very good Norwegian,". . . honestly? It made me cry. It could have been the fact that it was 2am, or that I had waged a 3 hour bedtime battle, or that I had way too many glasses of wine, or that my contact lenses should have come out hours ago. But that flood of compliments were too much for me to hold back the tears.