The older they get…. my three cross cultural kids
Raising cross cultural kids means different things at different times during their lives. It’s hard to say how much my American-ness influenced them when they were babies. I’d like to think there was an American influence but in reality, maybe not so much. I do know that before my eldest went to school, his accent was not as British as it was after he started school. None of the others ever had an American-influenced accent before they went to school.
Right now, it goes like this:
6 year old: thinks I’m a bit stupid because I constantly get words wrong – all the time. Especially when I call trousers pants and trainers sneakers. Well what can I say? I’m hard-wired American! He also thinks I’m sort of an alien because I hail from another ‘world’ and he can never remember what that ‘other world’ is called but likes the sound of it. He can’t recall visiting Florida or going to Disney but he loves looking at the photos. Chats non stop to his American Grandmother over the phone and Skype. Unfortunately, she can’t understand a word he says.
12 year old: Gives me pathetic looks when I say things like play clothes and other Americanisms such as Math and suppertime. Has very fond memories of Florida, especially the neighbors she made friends with, the climate and the culture. Understands many of the cultural differences between the two countries and likes to talk about it with me. Sometimes mixes up American pronunciation and spellings with her native British way of saying and spelling words. When this happens at school she is mortified and her friends laugh at her (hopefully in a friendly way). Is incredibly reserved and very British by nature but is interested in my background, her American grandparents and likes the idea of America. Loves peanut butter instead of marmite. That is definitely my fault!
Almost 14 year old (his birthday is July 2nd, Whoop whoop!): Loves all things American especially food such as Kraft Macaroni Cheese, chocolate chip cookies, brownies, Mountain Dew, iced tea, real lemonade, Cheetos and American candy. Loves America and wants to go there on his own when he’s older to travel and to work. Games with American kids online and calls me ‘retarded’ when I suggest that he tell them he’s half American. Actually he calls me ‘retarded’ quite often these days, doesn’t really matter much what I say. I think that must be a teenager thing rather than a cultural thing. Loves to shop online with me for American food-stuffs and treats. Buys me stuff when he’s out and about and sees something that I will love like Cheetos or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Fields lots of questions from his friends such as ‘why do all Americans have guns?’ and ‘Is it true that Americans eat hamburgers everyday?’ Knows who George Washington and Abraham Lincoln are and what they did, the significance of Thanksgiving and the 4th of July and can’t wait to visit America again.
Meghan Peterson Fenn is the author of Bringing Up Brits and co-author of Inspiring Global Entrepreneurs with Heidi Mulligan Walker. Meghan is also the Director and Chief Designer at her own design company, White Ochre Design Ltd. And, she is an award winning expat blogger.