Friday, February 23, 2007

Moja Mala Djevojčica

This is the title of a song I sing to my daughter every night. It is a Croatian children's song, and I think it says a lot about paternal attitudes and socialism, don't you?

I am quite sure I don't sing it exactly right, but the words are:

Moja mala djevojčica
Zdrava i puna veselje
Kao bundeva kostica
Tako i puna jelja

Tata kupi mi auto
bicicle i romobile
Kupi mi meduli seku
Kulica Jugo Vinil

Tata kupi kolaca
Bon bon i ja nerenje dve
I jednu mali nu bebu
Tata kupi mi sve

My darling child
Full of life and love and health and happiness
as a pumpkin seed says

Daddy buy me a car,
a bicycle and a scooter
Buy me a push pram
Like the one by Hugo Venille

Daddy buy me a cake
Some lollies and two oranges
But most of all Daddy
Buy me a baby
Daddy buy me everything

I don't sing it the way that her father's family sing the song, and as my three semesters of Hrvatski mean that I can only misunderstand the asides his family make to one another I probably have my wording, pronounciation and translation incorrect - but I persist and it is a nightly ritual.

When my long distance darling and I started spouting our ancestry, he scared me by admitting to a Yugoslav in the woodwork - but he is purebred moggy covering the Northern and Eastern parts of Europe - via USA - so my Northern English/Scottish/Irish/German/anyone else that invaded genes all settled.

I realised last night as I got off the phone from the Baka (Croatian for old woman - or grandmother) that I have actually had a longer relationship with P.'s extended family than I did with him. It is possibly (read definitely) only through the virtue of my daughter that I stuck it out with them in a lot of instances, and they sometimes confirm my closet belief that the former Yugoslavia would be an interesting study for psychologists.

But I am not sure if it is age that has mellowed us all, or if we are finally getting used to each other's ways.

Baka now uses every opportunity she has to tell me her latest medical dramas (note to television executives - if you want a screamingly funny and poignant idea for a script, I have one with an elderly ESL patient and the public health system) and the current intricacies of her family (which now include some of the Croatian based chapter as Grandpa and her talk again after 15 years - to gripe about their children, no doubt).

I could actually see Auntie S as a girlfriend at some points, she is great value and, while volatile and vitriolic when in full flight, tempered with tea can be very charming. And as she is the mother of Cousin B, extra good value for my daughter.

Okay, one of the brothers I could cheerfully send to Guatamala with a one-way ticket, as has been my position since our first introduction. Umm - at least he plays soccer with the kids...

And the other brother, when not too drunk (where he thinks he is the life and soul of the party and unfortunately tends to be the death knell) can be great fun too.

The Croatians have special words for the different types of relation you are to one another - an aunt who is a father's sister is different to an aunt who is a mother's sister is different to an aunt who is a parent's brother's wife. And I wonder what relation I am now to them?

Even though P. and I were never married, and there is no shorthand way of saying "my daughter's father's dysfunctional clutch", I think that in a way I actually have another branch to my own family tree. One that creaks a lot, no doubt!

And then I think of my sister's husband's family - and how, although I made no vows or promises at their wedding (just had to look slender and elegant and try not to be upstaged by 3 girls under 7 in the same dress as me) I am now "connected" to them all in tenuous ways.

My brother's wife's family too, I feel a certain degree of kinship with and have some "connection" and another branch.

I come from a large family - not large as in 27 children, but large as in there is oral history for at least 3 generations, and every offshoot of those generations is kept tabs on, pride for, despair with and a little bit of judgement from. My poor long distance darling even discovered he worked with a relation of mine (my father's cousin's son) - its a large state but thick with family ties!

I suppose there are several points I sort of thought about while writing this - what am I getting my long distance darling into, what extensions are his family so far away going to give to mine, and also a lot of love and support for several of the creaking branches who are going through really, really tough times right now.

Again with a post with no point - anyone want to wrap this one up for me more saliently?


strauss said...

That was a REALLy intersting post Jeanie. I have very small family. there are family members out there, but we are only close to our immediate family. That is teh way we were brought up, people/support/care from a distance. I often wish it were different. Your family may be quirky, but they sounded lovely to me.

jeanie said...

The grass is ALWAYS greener, Strauss - it is great knowing you are connected to such a large web, but there is always someone watching you!!!

Anonymous said...

I have found you through Bettina's blog. That post has had me nodding. Simple sum up to that... Croatians are barking mad.

jeanie said...

Anja - too true! Mind you, finding a sane Serb or Bosnian can be a bit of a trick also!

Dalmatians I have heard are cool - but that could be a relative term.

Welcome, by the way.


LURVED your rendition of the song, it really put a smile on my dial! :) Having lived in Croatia for the past 2.3 years I can honestly confirm Anja's comments - croatians ARE barking mad! And I'd like to know the definition of a "sane serb" coz I've definately never met one!!!

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jeanie said...

Thanks Alexandra! Do you know this is one of my biggest search term hits, the words for the song!!!

Kudos to you for living there for that amount of time.