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Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Yo-ho, hoist the colours… but what colours?

We expats have problems other people don’t have: adjusting to a new home, living in a country different from our own, often learning a new language. But those problems pale in the face of what happens during the football season.

We were “happy” to experience this twice: World Cup in South Africa 2010, and now the Europe Cup, hosted- I am proud to add-by my home country, Poland. Ladies and gentlemen, it is my belief that if it wasn’t for football, we would have World’s Peace. But please let me explain before you go on and lynch me for uttering such profanities.

See, in the times of globalisation, and people moving around, and living in other countries, we could think that those people are usually welcomed in their new homes. We could think that there is a Global Brotherhood Period, and everybody loves everybody else. But, during Football season the mood changes to a more nationalistic one. But there is more to that. Suddenly, history becomes important.

For example, Poland playing against Germany is never just Poland against Germany. The Germans think: “Oh, those Poles, we will crash them like we did in 1939”. The Poles think: “You…., we’ll get back at you for what you did to us in 1939!” Old prejudices, and old wounds are being remembered, and emotions fly high.
When you are in your home country, you have just one side to choose: yours; Or the one that you like more, if your country is not playing. But an expat’s situation is much complicated. Here is an example.

When I read that Germany will be playing against the Netherlands on June 13th, I jokingly posted a message on my FB wall wherein I debated in what colours I should dress Klara. I wasn’t really planning to dress her in any colours rather than her usual ones but I still wrote this as a joke. I was totally unprepared for the problem that I was facing.

As you know, I am Polish, and we live in the Netherlands. And you also know that my husband is German. See my problem? Germany is playing against the Netherlands. This makes my husband’s position as uncomfortable as my position was when we watched Poland playing against Germany back in 2008. I was the only Pole in the pub, and dear, was I uncomfortable. If Poland were playing well, that’d be a different story altogether, but they were so bad that even I noticed how bad they were. And so I kept my head low, and paid real good attention to not rolling my R’s, just to be on the safe side.

So, in the FB discussion, several options were presented: Orange (because for Poles the Dutch are the lesser of the two evils). Dress one girl in black-red-gold, and the other in orange; Then, Polish, in white and red. Then German-Polish: white-and-black. Another suggestion was, dressing her in a colourful dress- so that people see whatever they want to see. But I think that is something people might miss altogether. And what it the point of a fashion statement if nobody notices it?

The arguments for and against colours were varied, and the discussion was heated. I’ve realised that there is no good way out of this. Whatever I’ll do, I’ll be lynched for showing loyalty to whatever that wasn’t Orange. But I didn’t want to go Orange on my daughters. So, what to do? Maybe I’ll let them run around naked.
But you know what? This problem was solved for me by my girls’ daycare. They had custom made orange onesies for the occasion, and had all children wear them. The kids had a blast playing football!

And you know what happened? Julia got hers dirty. She’s a baby after all. And Klara? Did I tell you we were potty training her? So yes, you guessed it. She was dressed in Orange, and she peed on it.

Today, on the day of the match, Julia is wearing pink pants, a dark violet top and light violet stockings. Klara is wearing brown corduroy pants, a light pink top and blue socks. I totally forgot about the Orange thing! And then at daycare, they had a bring-your-child- dressed-in -Orange-day. And it didn’t matter. Because while the nannies, including Klara’s Muslim nanny  as well as some of the children wore Orange, others were dressed in other colours. So Klara and Julia didn’t even stand out. But you know what, the colours don’t matter, they will be dirty in no time anyway! 

How are you dressing your children today?

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