PARENTS

Three Into Four: Culture Clash

27/11/2012 16:00 | Updated 22 May 2015
Three Into Four: Culture clashMy not-so-American girl

Last week's Thanksgiving festivities - which I of course enthusiastically celebrated with Diana, and am still dreaming of the scrumptious sweet potato mash with marshmallows my friend Sharon made for the occasion - got me thinking that no matter what similarities I may share with my daughter, she is something that I am not: British.

More than just an enviable possession of dual citizenship, her Britishness is something that's already manifesting itself in her vocabulary (nappies, dummies and buggies are what she calls items I used to refer to as diapers, pacifiers and strollers), and when we went to New York last month, all of my friends pointed out how British Diana sounds.

Interestingly, I can't really hear Diana's British accent and had egotistically assumed she was just attempting to mimic my own voice when she spoke, but lately, even I have to admit that when I ask her if she wants a 'to-MAY-to' she'll say that yes, she would like a 'to-MAH-to' (or rather, a 'MAH-to').

Although she's not always so cut-glass; one of her favourite words, 'chocolate,' which she likes to demand at breakfast with a giggle because she knows she won't be getting any ('I WANT choccie, I WANT cake!' is the familiar refrain), gets pronounced exactly the way Eliza Doolittle, pre-posh transformation, says it.

Soon, I will be navigating the British school system (forget about the pros and cons of state v public, I am still trying to wrap my head around uniforms that include coats, hats and satchels. I simply wore various incarnations of the sprayed-on jean for my decade-plus of primary and secondary education), and in no time after that, I'm sure D will be pointing out when I've 'misspelled' something because I've omitted an obligatory (extra?) letter.

I have to admit that mostly, I feel excited that D will be raised in a different city and country to me, and hopefully it will give her the passion for other cultures and languages that I think being raised by a Ukrainian-born mother helped give me. Plus, I want her to feel confident about living anywhere (especially New York), and I think having an expat parent should help give her that self-assurance.

And Diana's not completely British - yet, at least. Her penchant for emotional hysteria is hardly the precursor to a stuff upper lip, and she is the type of person to approach everyone in the street with a wave, a hello and a smile. Some might call that behaviour aggressive... others might say it's just very American. Whatever it is, I couldn't be prouder (which is apparently quite American, too)...

D doesn't know who Noddy or Postman Pat are yet (my fault, I'm afraid), but her American education is pushing forward in the form of Disney movies. From Mickey Mouse to Rapunzel (we had to delete Tangled from Daddy's iPad since D became so infatuated with it), she is certainly Americanised when it comes to cartoon tastes.

At the end of the day, as my husband pointed out the other week, it's my own cultural identity that's at risk, not Diana's. I had commented that an American friend we hadn't seen in a while was starting to sound like a total faux-Brit (one of my pet peeves).

"That's exactly how you speak," my husband replied.

Uh-oh. Just call me Madonna.

Suggest a correction