Monday, October 13, 2014

Passing down the crazy

For the first time ever ladies and gents.... public water fountain on the Old Town Square. Now if they would just add one, or 32, public restrooms, we'd be in business.
The sign reads, "Woda do picia" (water for drinking)

Oh, we piciaed! We piciaed like pros.

For some reason blogger won't let me comment on any of my last few posts. If you've been waiting for me to respond, I promise, I haven't been avoiding you. Blogger is just kind of a piece every now and then.

There is so much I want to say about all of this. It interests me. I'm not moving mountains with my words but I am genuinely intrigued and want to discuss it. I appreciate your willingness to comment and share your stories.

When Martin asks people why they don't allow cold drinks, why they don't drink tap water, why the child has to wear a hat once the temp. goes below 70, why children can't sit on the ground (I'll get to that in a second), he usually gets this response first...

 "That's just what you do or don't do (sometimes ending with, "in Poland")!" Depending on the age of the person it will also be accompanied with something like a shocked scowl. Those exist here.

He strongly dislikes that response. And bless his heart he almost always retorts with, " What do you mean, that's just "what you do"?!" No, it's not. You don't JUST DO anything!!"

And here's the thing. He's right. But perhaps it's not that the other person is wrong, perhaps it's because the other person is, in fact, Polish. Could it be?

I sincerely want to know why. I want to know the old wives tales. I want to know the wisdom and the "wisdom" that has been passed down from generation to generation here in this country.

For whatever reason, perhaps Communism, perhaps homogeneity, perhaps patriotism, perhaps all three in one... seems to have frozen Poland for a couple generations. These "isms" are still around because these generations are still around. But they won't be for long. The generations that bring us these delightful parental admonishments and pearls of wisdom meant to protect our health will die some day.

 For better or for worse each generation relies far less on familial wisdom and more and more on books, experts, t.v. programs, mom's groups, and the like for information about how to do things, how to raise kids, health issues, nutrition, home remedies, recipes, how to fix a toilet... There's a reason of course. Sometimes our mom's and grandma's are just plain wrong. A lot of the wisdom passed down can be traced back to superstition, lack of knowledge of the way the body works, or just some sort of short term fix that turned in to 'how's it done always and forever.'

(let's not be too hasty to "throw the baby out with the bath water" as the English would say.... I am most impressed that many people here, and their children, know  natural remedies that Americans don't even bother to research. There are many other examples as well but this one comes to mind first.)

Or are they? Are they wrong?

Don't all of these "isms" have some truth to them? Don't they all stem from something real at some point in history that causes such strong reactions? So strong as to actually create fears and prejudices, and "just do/don't do?!" Right?

And in some areas it is still being passed on, to my children's generation, despite the books, and knowledge at our finger tips, and proof that there is no "just do/don't do."

Gosh, I wish I were a better writer. I think it's all clear but then it's not. And of course none of this is all that important. It's just so interesting to me. Truly interesting.

I learned today: No matter what, no matter the temperature outside/inside or what the baby is wearing, under no circumstances save, perhaps, an emergency, should a child be placed to sit directly on the ground/floor/grass. It's been insinuated before, but today I was told the truth of the matter. Very authoritatively. This is interesting!!!

(and humbling)

(let me take  a moment here to say that if you want to be truly humbled, truly truly humbled, move to a different country where no matter how hard you try you will make a cultural or linguistic faux pas, sometimes several times a day, and you will gently, or not so gently be corrected by the general public are moments of grace, or moments to sin... you "get" to choose,

I asked Martin why.

He said he thinks it has something to do with the kidneys - the floor/ground/grass is cold, and this is bad for the kidneys. Anyone?

We're both baffled.

 I might just have to start asking people.

Oy. Won't that be a can of worms. :)

P.S. This post hearkens back to an older post from early 2014. So, you know, it's been on my mind. Some great comments over there. ;)


  1. My grandma always said that from sitting on the COLD ground/rock you can "catch a wolf" - wolf it's bladder problems or something like that. I don't know if it's true but it is still in my head - so we sits on the ground only during summer. :D I know it's weird and have no sense but, you know, grandma said...

    We have to met and talk about that some day. I don't have time lastly, but maybe some day in the morning I can come. :)

    BTW - if you had polish grandma she wouldn't let you stare at fire during pregnancy and many weird things. After birth she will bring you red ribbon to put on your stroller to avoid bad luck and charms (yup, charms, really). It's wonderful weird world of superstitions here. :D

    1. But I have never met a Pole that doesn't think the floor/ground is cold no matter what the season. Middle of summer, 30 degrees outside... "where are your kapcie?!"

      Being barefoot is an even greater atrocity. I agree, feet can be quite ugly. ;)

      I love all of these grandma sayings... where are they written down?! I want that book!

    2. Book? I don't know any books about that (beside some etnographic old ones maybe ;)). I was raised mostly by my grandparents so I remember lot of stuff. For example you can't put shoes on table or bread upside down, you can't eat fruits with milk, kids will pee to bed if they stare at fire in the evening, and so on... :D

      We don't have kapcie in our house, but I know the problem. My mother in law have obsession about that. Being barefoot is lethal, obviously. ;)

  2. My goodness, I don't know if I should pity you that you meet all these weirdos or just laugh... nobody ever told me not to sit on a cold floor. Yes, it is about bladder infections, but I heard it's mostly genetic and women in my family don't have any problems like those. Still, they always offer me kapcie, when I visit, hmmm... (I hate those, just the idea of shoes worn by so many people, brrrr!)

    1. You know what's great? People often bring their own kapcie now. I like that. It takes the pressure off of me, because we really just don't own any, and I don't have to worry about everyone sharing shoes, because even though I've never thought about it before, you're kind of right. Yuck.

      I do have to remember thought to either bring my own (I don't own any, wa, waa) OR definitely bring socks or something to wear on my feet if for some reason I'm not wearing shoes. Because being barefoot in someone else's home always seems weird, and my feet are not always the prettiest things around.

      So many little things just like this...

  3. One thing I don't get AT ALL is, why can a baby be outdoors in a stroller (usually in many layers) but when the same baby is indoors, cannot sit anywhere near an open window in those same layers, because a draft from the window will make the baby sick??? Ninety degrees inside the room and the window must be shut because the draft will kill the baby. I have never seen such appalled glares from mother, auntie, babcia, as when a baby is in a room with an open window. Oy.

  4. LOL!!

    Was the piciaed water cold?? XD

    I didn't know that they don't sit on the grass / ground... no wonder we had such funny looks in Krakow!!

    (we were also scolded when we were walking outside barefoot....but that's a whole other post, I imagine).

    I can't wait to move there... LOL


  5. I think Poland people are very crazy people (i mean on the bright side), because they are very passionate for the football, for the food and for their culture!
    Trip in Poland