Tuesday, 24 May 2011
Things I have learned in two years
Exactly two years ago today, we were getting off a plane at JFK with two overexcited small boys, and about eight suitcases containing a lot of our worldly goods. As we piled into a yellow taxi and headed for Brooklyn, we were arriving in a new country with nowhere to live, not even knowing exactly where we would live, no schools or nurseries sorted for the children, no car, no furniture, no friends. When I look back on it now, I think I was remarkably calm.
It has definitely been a steep learning curve, and there have been lows as well as highs. But I have no regrets, and if you asked me to move to the States all over again I would.
So what have I learned in two years in the New York area? Well, hundreds of things, but I thought I would just jot down a few to mark the anniversary. Some of these are genuinely things I really had no clue about before we left the UK - just goes to show that however much you think you know American culture from TV, books and films, it is very different living here.
1. I know what the following initials stand for: the GOP, NPR, the DMV.
2. I have become familiar with the following foods: matzoh, sliders (we even cooked them on the BBQ at the weekend), s'mores, challah bread (now Littleboy 2's favourite lunch), Goldfish pretzels (Littleboy 1's favourite snack).
3. I have learned that bigger is always better. If you are asked to a party and hostess tells you just to bring yourselves, bring yourselves plus three large dishes of food. And one small present looks bad at a kid's birthday. Buy something in a huge box, plus, possibly, another gift as well.
4. When my neighbor told me two years ago she was going to be honored at a gala, I thought it was some kind of carnival and she would be travelling in a float. I really did. Now I know that a Gala is a fundraiser at which someone is honored with speeches, presentations and ads in a journal.
5. I have learned that America is a country of extremes. Extreme weather (just look at the devastating tornadoes this week); extreme politics; extreme views. None of your British reserve or moaning about the drizzle. Things are either fantastic, or devastating. Never just a bit 'meh'.
6. I am learning to embrace the 'soccer mom' culture of the American suburbs. I'm not actually turning into Sarah Palin, but I genuinely enjoy watching the boys playing football*, and caught myself turning up in the soccer mom uniform of baseball cap and denim shirt last week. *(Actually, truth be told Littleboy 1 plays football. Littleboy 2 mainly sits in the grass and plays with the dandelions. The Doctor confesses that this is what he, too, did during sports classes as a child).
7. I honestly thought that summer camp was when you went away and camped in the woods for six weeks. Now I know that this is 'sleepaway camp', and summer camp just means a form of (hopefully fun) childcare to ensure that you don't go crazy during a 3 month summer holiday. I have become a fully paid up fan of summer camp.
I could go on, but I'm running out of time and today my Dad arrives from England for a week. I'll be interested to get his take, not just on how the boys have changed since his last visit, but how I've changed too. Because it's been an educational experience for all of us.