There’s a culture war happening right now.  And it’s taking place in my living room.

We’ve just finished the second week of the in-vasion — and it never ceases to amaze me how at times both sides can come together in family harmony, and how often we just stare at each other blankly with complete incomprehension.

From my perspective:

  • My granite counter top is being used simultaneously as a pastry board and dish collector (while the dishwasher remains empty) and raw ground beef is being washed through a sieve in my dry-dish sink.  Flour and pastry flakes are everywhere and now I have to sterilize the sink.
  • Plans are made in Arabic and it’s assumed I’m fast enough to catch what’s going on.
  • Every night we watch one of my family’s favourite Indian Soaps. I think it’s about a girl who’s trying to save her sister from marrying a married man, who is only marrying her because his first marriage was to a woman who’s brother is a criminal and their father, the district attorney would die of shame if his son married the sister of a criminal, which he secretly did, and is now covering it up with the marriage to the second woman, who will invariably be kidnaped by the criminal brother. There’s some singing and dancing too. But all I ever catch in Hindi is, “marriage,” “yes,” “no,” and “love.”  Everyone is too involved in the show to completely answer my pestering questions about what the heck is going on.
  • Plans change, and change, and change and change. I’m a stickler for a couple of things: being on time, and having some clue as to what’s going on. I’m not a fan of a 30 minute debate of where we’re going to eat because someone wants to make absolutely certain that every opinion is taken into account, when we already decided yesterday that X would be wonderful.  Not when I’m trying to schedule the baby’s afternoon nap.
  • This is Canada. 6 degrees, warm sun, and no wind is NOT cold. It’s perfect fall weather.
  • Passive-aggressive requests. “Do you think we have time to dry my clothes?” is code for, “Here are my wet clothes, can you dry them for me?” I’m a big fan of being upfront about things. I’m way too nice to say, “Sure, the dryer is right there.”

Theirs:

  • We just arrived and haven’t found the pastry board yet. K is busy, so we won’t bother her. This clean counter top is perfect for making poori, chapati and khubz arabi. Straining raw meat and water through a sieve takes out all of the excess fat (who knew!). We use too many dishes. Sorry. We’re working on that. How do you use the dishwasher?
  • K’s English is intimidating. I don’t like asking her to use smaller words.
  • K can clear a room by putting Grey’s on the tube.
  • It’s really important to us that everyone’s opinion is heard. What someone wanted yesterday, they may not want today, and we can be flexible! And honestly, part of the 30 minute bickering is just doing it for drama and fun. Please refer to your point on our Indian Soaps.
  • This is Canada. Anything below 16 degrees is freezing.
  • This is your home. The last thing we want to do is impose. It’s part of our culture to make people feel welcome and comfortable, even when requesting something of them.

What I love about our cultural clashes is that once seen on ‘paper’ they really don’t look different from regular, day-to-day issues that all families deal with.  And I get to learn so much about myself. What is it about my list that gets my ire up?  Is it prudishness? My rigid German social morality? Privilege? Or perhaps just simple differences in how we were all brought up.

My brilliant SIL came up with a theory when she witnessed a heated debate between myself and my parents. During the debate she could see how my parents had shaped me into becoming a questioning and challenging woman, and how as a nuclear family, we thrive on debate and analysis.  She on the other hand, was shaped by the volunteering spirit of her parents. So while they rarely had political debates at home, my FIL taught her the value of community service.  Both sets of parents influenced us to have different strengths and values.

And now that we’re both part of the same family, these strengths and values can help shape Eryn and make both sides stronger.

Well. Now isn’t that sweet.  Thanks sis!

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