Friday, 10 July 2009

Little Britons

My good friend Nota Bene asks in an email how the Littleboys are settling into their new environment - and I realise, I haven't really said much about them in the blog since our arrival here.

It's partly because it's difficult to pinpoint what impact the move has really had on them, although there is no doubt that it must have been unsettling. At first, I think they thought we were just on holiday, doing the sorts of things we do on holiday; staying with other people, going to beaches and swimming pools, nights in hotels. Perhaps their parents seemed a little stressed and preoccupied (the result of trying to co-ordinate a new life here with the remaining admin of our London house, via email), but they didn't seem to notice. In fact, they seemed completely overexcited, refusing to go to bed before about 10pm (the legacy of which still lingers now) and behaving pretty appallingly at any given opportunity.

Then we moved into our new house. A month later, Littleboy 1 still refers to 'our new house' and 'our new garden', and, when out, constantly asks whether we are coming back here, so I think he must need some reassurance that we are not moving again. Littleboy 2, meanwhile, has been heard to ask 'we going back to our room now?', meaning, I think, hotel room. And we do get the occasional question about London, and wistful mention of their nursery.

However, there is plenty for them to like about their new environment - whereas at home our regular morning outing might have been to Clapham Common or Dulwich Park with their scooters, here a morning's jaunt is usually the town beach or swimming pool. In fact most of their activities seem to involve water; any hot afternoon sees a trip to the playground around the corner, which has excellent, although shockingly un-eco friendly, water-fountains built specifically for kids to splash in (there are even buckets which fill and tip over their heads - great fun for them, not so good if you happen to be standing nearby, not in a swimsuit...). Going out for an early evening meal with Mummy and Daddy is also new for them - it seems far more common here to take kids to eat out in the evening, so we are taking advantage of this and sampling some of the local pizza parlours.

America has added a few new words to their vocabulary. "Schoolbus!" yells Littleboy 2 in delight every time a big yellow bus passes us on the street, which, during term time, was every two minutes. Littleboy 1 was very excited to hear that he, too, will be travelling on the schoolbus in a year's time. (American schoolbuses are fabulous. The design is a classic, and makes me think of Peanuts. And they are so ultra-important here that, if you overtake a stopped one in your driving test, you fail). Littleboy 1, meanwhile has discovered waves and surf, ice in drinks (a great ruse for diluting juice, I find) and hot dogs, his new favourite food.

My Little Britons have also caused quite a stir in our locale, riding their micro-scooters around the town. Micro-scooters seem to have made it to Brooklyn, but not to Long Island, so they are quite a novelty here. They attract many stares and comments - mostly of the 'Ooh, aren't they just the cutest thing?' variety, although some people have looked pretty horrified at the sight of two toddlers on wheels going full pelt down Main Street.

Since coming here, I have also been asked about five times a day whether they are twins. This is most odd, as not once was I asked this question in the UK. They are actually 19 months apart, and while both blond, one is clearly bigger than the other and they don't look particularly alike. Perhaps it's the fact that they are very much a 'double act', doing everything together - I'm sure they have grown a lot closer since the move, as they have been thrown together so much. Still, I get the impression that Littleboy 1 in particular is desperate for friends. Although we have been on a couple of 'playdates', so far, he doesn't have anyone he can call a friend. When the other night we met some neighbours who, usefully, also have a four -year-old boy, he practically threw himself on the child and demanded to play with him straight away.

To this end, and so that I can make some attempt to pretend to have a career, I have registered them both for a pre-Kindergarten, four mornings a week starting in September. When we looked around, they ran straight in and began enthusiastically joining in with the class as if they'd been there for years, so I knew it was the right move.

So it's two months of summer with me, before they get their first real taste of American children (and no doubt will begin to adopt the accent too). And, although they drive me to distraction sometimes, I'm enjoying their company - after all, I have yet to make any real friends yet here either. After all, there are worse ways to spend the summer than paddling in the sea, building sandcastles and eating ice cream by the duckpond, which is what my life pretty well consists of these days. Still, later on today we are off to a playdate with lots of other 'moms', so maybe we'll all make some friends....

10 comments:

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

Gosh your two sound so like mine. 2 little blond boys, 19 months difference causing a stir on their scooters.

Mine fight like cat and dog, but there is no doubt that they are far closer than they were as they rely on each other much more than they did before we moved.

They will have a lovely summer, swimming, ice cream eating. Such an adventure for them (and you I guess).

Hope you meet some like minded Moms at your playdate. The mothers network is one that I still miss.

Iota said...

My boys had a small metal toy American school bus (can't think where from) for years. When we came here, I was amazed to find that that is what they are ALL like, in real life. I hadn't realised it was such an iconic toy. It really is an important symbol of American childhood. (No seat belts or safety features, sadly.)

How odd that people think they are twins. Must be the blond hair, I suppose.

Iota said...

Good luck with the other moms. Remember, the code word isn't "you must come round for coffee", but "we must get our kids together". I was so relieved when someone taught me that - stopped all those blank looks I'd been getting.

A Confused Take That Fan said...

Aww, sounds like things are going OK. And well done for getting play dates schedules. You will meet someone who you click with sooner or later as will your boys. Good friends are hard to find, but they will be there somewhere. Loving the sound of the water fountains xx

A Modern Mother said...

Sounds like you need to find your "Emma Baker". Last time I moved countries, I found a friend down the road (Emma Baker) and she took me under her wing and introduced me to all her friends, invited me on coffee morning, etc. Keep looking, your will find her.

Can't wait to hear about the little boys accents and when they change... and your reaction...

Nicola said...

Glad your summer has got off to such a good start. Sounds familiar to my time in Chicago with the boys. And good luck on the friends front too - I have just met a bunch of people from the East coast that now live in Chicago and they are really smart, fun and seem a little bit more travelled than many of their midwestern counterparts.

nappy valley girl said...

Brit in Bosnia - actually, the playdate went quite well and I did meet a few people. I've also joined a Moms Group - which isn't really like me at all - but hopefully will lead to some more social life.

Iota - we have a toy schoolbus too. Will remember the invitation codewords!

CTTF - I know, the fountains are fab. I'm tempted to play in them myself, but haven't seen any other parent do so....

A modern - well, I think I have found her; a lovely European expat I met in the first week. It's thanks to her we've been on any playdates at all...

Nicola - thanks. So far, East Coasters seem fairly similar to people back home, although there is the odd one who looks blank when I say I am from London!

Expat mum said...

I was going to suggest looking on the Expat Women web site to see if there are any "mentors" in your area, but you'll meet moms soon enough when the kids start nursery. (Remind us to give you the full drill when the time gets nearer - there are many strange and wonderful things to learn about the American school system.)

Also - if you think it's a little unusual that so many kids eat out with their parents, wait until you start getting invited to parties. They all start at 5pm, end around 9pm and the kids come too!

Expat mum said...

I can't believe I just said "nursery". It must be because I'm with Brits!

conuly said...

"(No seat belts or safety features, sadly.)"

Actually, the way the bus is DESIGNED is a big huge safety feature. Seat belts on all school buses would save approximately one life a year. In the whole country.

With that said, the school buses at my nieces' school have seat belts. I hear from the teachers that it's a massive hassle to belt all the kids up and then KEEP THEM BELTED for the whole ride.