I met another mother who invited me to come to a playgroup she was a member of which met once a week. She was very pleasant and understanding that I was having problems finding social things to do around town for my children.
After I finished talking to her, I went to the resource desk to see whether they had any books for children or some other resources for teaching them Polish. They had none but I was told to go online and could get any I found transferred to my local branch without problems.
Then, the woman told me, "We have a woman here who is Polish." She started standing up and walking toward another area. "Would you like to meet her?"
She was already walking away so I agreed to since there was no way around it now.
Then, I stood there with my toddler thinking. What was I going to say to this woman? Hi, I'm Polish, your Polish, can we be friends? High on the lame factor there. I suddenly wanted to run away but it was too late, the Polish woman was pushing a cart of books toward me, led by the first lady.
She looked at the first lady with a look I understood. We are both Polish, so what?
She smiled at me but I knew that she didn't want to be there talking to me. I introduced myself and shook her hand. The first lady told me the Polish woman's name, the Polish woman did not tell me it.
I told her where I was from and that we had just moved here. She nodded her head.
She then began talking with me about how long was I here. I apologized that I was speaking strange since I had just had two wisdom teeth removed two days prior and my tongue was still partly numb.
She gave me a look and told me that it explained my extremely strange accent. I told her I had an American accent but also the teeth were causing an issue with my accent.
While I listen to her talk, I think that she doesn't sound Polish, she sounds Ukrainian or Eastern Polish or something. Not Silesian Polish or even Warsawian Polish or the Polish I once heard on a trip to Poland's Baltic coast. And she keeps turning her head slightly from me and losing eye contact while talking.
Then, I told her my daughter's name. American first name, Polish middle name. She gave me another strange look. I explained that I had married an American.
She looks me dead in the eyes.
"Your children will never learn Polish."
I wanted to fall through the floor. I told her I wanted to put them in Polish school but I was from Maryland and there had not been any Polish schools around me growing up. She told me about how she had driven her children the roughly hour drive to Chicago every week for Polish school when they were children and that she had married a Polish man so they spoke Polish at home so it was natural for her children.
And that it wouldn't be natural for my children since they had no foundation.
A couple of pleasantries were exchanged and she excused herself that she needed to go back to work.
I left the library.
And remembered what I had told the mother earlier who had invited me to a playgroup. "Yes, there are Polish people at the Polish store. But what am I going to say to them? Hi, I see you and I are both buying kielbasa, perhaps we could have a play date?" and we had laughed at how ridiculous that would be to do.
And thought, "You are right, you are more Polish than me. I'm sorry I didn't meet your standards. I'm sorry an American woman thought that perhaps two Polish people might like to meet each other."
Maybe my children will never learn Polish. Perhaps I should give that up now. After all, a complete stranger who doesn't affect my life or know me seems to think so.
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Note: Blogger had gone through some updates which ended up losing posts for several people, mine inclulded. While I have been waiting for this post to be retrieved, it was pointed out to me by Smells of Borscht that it was still in Google Reader, so I have republished this post. Perhaps the original post will eventually be retrieved but I wanted to share this in the meantime. Thank you for your patience, those of you who wanted to read this but couldn't...