My grandparents came to the U.S. from Holland. Growing up I always thought it was neat hearing family visiting from overseas because they had such strong accents. I was totally oblivious to the fact that my grandparents sounded like that too because I spent every day listening to them so I guess I grew immune to hearing the majority of their accent. Except when it came to names of people and places. And also, for my grandma (Oma), the word “Chinese” which sounds more like “Shy Knees” when she says it. Anytime she makes vegetables and rice she tells me she fixed “that Shy Knees food today”. It’s funny to hear her say it but funnier to know that it’s nothing like actual Shy Knees food which, ironically, she doesn’t like.
Oma reminds me of a European Betty White. She looks like the sweetest grandma but you never know what will come out of her mouth next. She can be teaching you how to be a lady or cussing like a sailor. She’s always a sport and says some hilarious stuff. One of my funniest memories is a night of prank calling where after the neighbors had a few drinks decided it would be fun to have my grandmother call people and screw with them with her accent. They all rooted through their cell phones and gave her numbers to call and she sat on the phone for hours talking to random people about how she just came from Ishtanbul and that she was drunk “from the visky, and vine and wodka” and would switch languages in the middle of a sentence. We all laughed so hard and she was cool as a cucumber totally screwing with whoever was on the other end of the line.
I love the way she says certain names too. It makes them sound so much more exotic and beautiful with her European accent. I even considered some names early on in my pregnancy like Kaatje (“Cot-yeh”) just because of how pretty I knew it would sound when Oma said it. Since having Adriana we all mostly call her Adri (like “Audrey”), except for Oma who insists on being different. Growing up I’ve heard her use nicknames like “Mootsie”, “Mooshka” and”Babooshka”, etc for babies. At first she wanted to call her Adrianellika because she thought that sounded like a cute nick name for a baby Adriana. Then it was Adje (“Aut-chuh”). The other day it was Adrianika. It’s always changing. But then, so is Adri. Every day a new cuteness. I guess each one could have its own name. Besides, who’s gonna argue with Oma? She may be five foot tall and talk like a sweet little old Dutch grandma but don’t let her fool you – she’s got secret ninja status…and some really scary kitchen gadgets that she’s not afraid to use.