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Stranger in a Strange Land


posted: 05/13/13

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy

After Nathan and I got married, we took this very dreamy and romantic honeymoon trip to Europe. The first stop on this romantic journey was a small city in Southern Italy right on the coast called Tropea.

We arrived there at about 10 pm after traveling for approximately seventeen million hours. When we got to our hotel, we were more than a little troubled to discover that they didn’t so much speak the English. And our knowledge of Italian allowed us to ask where the bathroom was (which was actually kind of helpful) and count to 10 (less than helpful).

Through lots of signs some very broken English and even more broken Italian, we managed to find our way to our room where we collapsed.

And thus began what was maybe the most wonderful and intensely frustrating week. The food was delicious, but it took us like three hours to order because we would spend so much time with our Italian to English dictionary trying to figure out what exactly we were ordering.

And sometimes we got it wrong.

So very wrong.

Things were made more complex by the fact that the dialect spoken in this region of Italy wasn’t exactly the same as the dialect used in bigger cities, like Rome.

Recently I came to a realization about Quinn.

She is the tourist, and our family is the beautiful new country that she just can’t quite communicate in. Maybe even more frustrating for her? She’s not headed home anytime soon. She surrendered her passport at the door, and she is stuck with us.

The other day she was sitting at the kitchen table having a snack, when she saw a bunny. Bunny is one of her favorite words.

Probably because I can understand it.

I grabbed her out of her chair, and we slowly followed the bunny around our house from the inside. We first stood in the kitchen and then the dining room and then the living room where I set her down and started to take pictures of her excitement.

And as I write this, I realize that I was probably more excited than Quinn. Not because of the bunny. I was sitting watching that little jerk eat my tulips. I was excited because we understood each other. We were sharing in a moment together. We were on the same page.

It’s the most fundamental part of a relationship, and it is such a challenge at this age.

Quinn will be two in August, and I must admit, even though she seems to be as sharp as a tack, her language development is going more slowly than it did with Gavin.

So here we are at this difficult impasse.

She knows what she wants to communicate, and for the most part, I know what she wants to communicate, it’s the next step that gets tricky. The explanation of  . . . . No.

No Quinn you can’t lick the bottom of your shoe.  And a meltdown ensues because she isn’t old enough to grasp the full extent of the nastiness that is licking the bottom of your shoe.

No you cannot have a third piece of biscotti.  Meltdown.

No you cannot knock down your brother’s Lego tower.  Smirk. I’m serious Quinn.  Meltdown.

And on and on and on until it is 4:45 and daddy isn’t home yet and mom is desperately clicking refresh on the Find Friends Ap and considering a pre 5 pm glass of wine.

And then there is this.

The excitement of a bunny.

The blowing kisses.

The waving.

The frantic “Hi’s”

Seriously, I feel like the bunny must have been a special little soul who understood that this was a special moment and didn’t take off in fear after looking up at the crazy little person banging on the glass.

Okay, eat my tulips, bunny. You’ve earned them.

I love my little Quinn to pieces. She melts my heart. She is more beautiful than the sunset in Southern Italy, and even though she is also equally frustrating, I don’t think we will be handing back her passport anytime soon.

After all, she is probably just as frustrated. I mean, I know what it’s like to be starving and when your meal shows up, it still has eyeballs.

Hi! I'm Lisa Longley, and I am committed to giving you simple dinner ideas and recipes that are easy to make; recipes that will fill your home with joy. I am the owner and author of SimpleJoy.com and I'm so glad that you are here.

Reader Interactions


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  1. Dorothy @ Crazy for Crust says

    I love this post Lisa! You are a wonder with words, and this must have been a magical moment!

  2. TheTastyFork says

    Lisa, if it makes you feel any better, I sometimes have a melt down when my husband tells me to put down the 3rd biscotti, cookie or helping of ice cream. :)

    Love this post!

    • Lisa Longley says

      Hahaha! This comment totally made me crack up, Meghan!

  3. Nicole | Pharr Away says

    Ha! I loved this post! I’m right there with you trying to understand my 14 month old daughter! It’s definitely an amazing yet frustrating experience!!!

    • Lisa Longley says

      Thanks Nicole. You pretty much summed it up, amazing yet frustrating :)

  4. Tara @ Suburble says

    Oh, I’ve so been there. I remember Lucy’s whines and tantrums when she was just figuring out her words. Now she’s trying to talk so fast that it comes out as a stutter. These poor kiddos.

    Language aside, Quinn looks just like you! What a sweetie!

    • Lisa Longley says

      Aw, thanks Tara. She has been called “Mini-Lisa” since birth :)

  5. Tanya-Lemonsforlulu.com says

    I feel like I’m there with you! Oh, I remember those frustrating days with my youngest, there’s so much going on in their little minds, so much they want to voice, but no one understands them! My youngest is four, and there are words that she needs to repeat even for me. I try to be delicate at those times. Thank goodness for little bunnies!

    • Lisa Longley says

      No kidding, Tanya!

  6. Julie Evink says

    Oh I can totally relate to this. Kinzee has began to think its fun to stick food in her mouth then proceed to take it out and play with it. Uh not ok in my book. So I say no. Then take her hand away. Then she does it again. I say no. Then she laughs at my hysterically and it goes on and on and on…and I politely text my hubby saying WHEN ARE YOU COMING HOME YOUR DAUGHTER IS TESTING MY PATIENCE!!!!!

    • Lisa Longley says

      Hahaha! OMG. Why do they have to be so gross???

  7. Sandra Kohlmann says

    I had a similar revelation last year, and wrote about it on the girls’ 2nd birthday. Those moments of limbo, between understanding and speaking, have been the hardest I’ve dealt with as a mom.

    Also, calling that bunny a “little jerk,” made me laugh out loud. I’m in a public place. Now I’m the crazy, laughing lady in this restaurant. Thanks Lisa. Thanks a lot. ;)


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5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners



5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners