Friday, 6 May 2011

Things that make my kids seem weird to North American kids

It occurred to me yesterday as we were eating breakfast that although my children have a Canadian mom and speak English, there are some things that North American kids would definitely find different about them:

- The Bambina's accent (when she speaks English - I think it's a mixture between Brooklyn and East London)

- The Bambina insists on wearing a dress or skirt every single day.  She hates jeans and all pants in general.   Even in winter in Europe, she will typically wear leotards and a dress rather than long pants.

- The Bambino typically wears a shirt with a collar and cotton shorts or pants.  His best American friend is always in a T-shirt and sweat-shorts.

- Neither of my kids has ever been to McDonalds (although there are plenty in Europe, there are none in Madagascar), nor have they heard of Burger King, Taco Bell, or KFC.

- The Bambino asks for "mano" with his pasta (mano = parmagiano, Italian for parmesan cheese).

- At age 6, the Bambina knows how to write in cursive but doesn't really know how to print!

- Neither of my kids drinks cow's milk - ever!

This is not to say that my kids are purely European.  In fact, when European kids (and adults) hear my kids speaking to me in English, they assume that my kids are American.  When my kids ask for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or drown their French fries in ketchup, this is more of the North American coming through.

And then the Bambina turns to her father and speaks a perfect, accentless, Parisien French, and people get really confused.  :-)


Esther and Brian said...

our kids are similar in some ways too! they are half-hungarian, half-american, living in the states but i am with them at home speaking only hungarian.

1. the twins are NOT dressed like american kids
2. the twins do not eat american food- they've never had chicken nuggets and refuse it, for instance
3. almond milk is our choice for milk
4. they speak two languages and go back and forth, too, between the parents
5. i hope to instill as much european culture into them as possible- learn to sit and eat properly at the table (eating continental-style)
6. writing cursive is a must! i am already scared about their future education in the states- very poor compared to the rest of the world.

so yeah, i hear ya! :)

Jennifer Kumar, Cross-Cultural Coach said...

A very interesting discussion.

Though this is off-topic a little, I had a question.

Here, we are talking about behaviors we can see that show cross-cultural difference. What about what we can't see?

I am curious are there differences between American and European values? I know Europe is vast place with a lot of countries, so it could vary on countries. Are there any pan-European values and how would they compare to American values? Thanks

The Globetrotter Parent said...

Jennifer, that's a tough question, partly because, as you say, European countries differ a lot from each other, so it's hard to generalize. One example I can think of off the top of my head relates to nudity. Continental Europeans generally think nothing of having their little girls go swimming with just the bikini bottom. North Americans tend to gawk at this idea, even though little girls' chests don't look any different than little boys' chests. Germans even tend to let their very young children run around completely nude at swimming pools and on the beach, whereas for North Americans, that tends to be a non-starter.