Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Mixing it up

Some very recent moments in my expat life:

- The Faery's preschool teacher asking me what a 'duffer' is - as in, you silly duffer. Yes, the Faery had called him a silly duffer. It's okay - it was out of light-heartedness, and her teacher had guessed as much because he'd been clowning around. It's not the first time there's been a question mark over appropriate language at her preschool. It got me thinking though, about what an Aussie-ism that term is. Or maybe it's just my family. It's a term I'd grown up with, but I'd never used it myself until having kids of my own - it gets used a lot in our home.

- Another staff member at her preschool said yesterday, "She's so cute! She came over and asked if she could have some 'sticky tape' and I told her that we just call it 'tape', and she said, 'Well, in Australia, we call it sticky tape.'" I have no idea where my daughter gets the need to correct other people's words from. No idea at all...

- The realisation that Miss Pie has lived more than eighty per cent of her short little life in the US. Strangers with American accents, lavishing attention on her in her stroller, is all she's really known.

- The acquisition of PB&J into our family's vocabulary - although we still call it jam, not jelly. Myself - I'd rather not mix the two, and prefer them separately on my toast. The Faery, however, is a big fan of this combination that she'd never had in Australia. I'm happy that she still asks for Vegemite at times.

- The Faery pestering me to get her an American flag. Just a little one on a stick for waving, like the Australian one she already has. The local supermarket has been decked out in patriotic red, white and blue for Memorial Day, and I think that's how she got the idea in her head. I promised her that when we see a little flag for sale, she can have one. Why not?

- Turning the car's ignition on this morning, and the radio blasting from when J drove it yesterday (I don't usually put the radio on because I like full concentration when dealing with crazy LA drivers). The song that was on the radio? "Beds Are Burning" by Midnight Oil. Oh, how that song took me back. Back to being an eleven year-old, and first becoming aware of political issues. I had to listen to the whole song before turning the radio off, and I'm pretty sure the Faery thought I was going a little crazy as I sang along to it.

- Arriving at the supermarket later, and seeing hand-held American flags - just as requested by the Faery - for 99c. She is now one happy new flag owner. And in true American style (ie everything must be massive in size), it is easily twice the size of her little hand-held Aussie flag. I feel somewhat traitorous...


  1. It's okay - we have Americana up the wazoo in this place. Actually I think we have more US flags than Aus ones. I don't know what it is, but seeing the US flag everywhere doesn't have the same effect on me as seeing the Aussie one being plastered about. I think though that it has such recent, unfortunate bogan connotations here and that might be why. I don't have anything against the Aussie flag per se but when it's worn by some numb-nut, I do.

    Oh God ... if I'd heard that Midnight Oil song so far from home, I would have cried. And the sight of a pink batt would have been enough to trigger me off ever after.

  2. I know what you mean about the flags. The Cronulla riots, sadly, come to mind. If I see houses decked out in Aussie flags, I can't help but judge it as a case of either bogan or redneck pride.

    Yet here, it seems to be the norm to see so many beautiful suburban homes proudly flying the American flag. Negative connotations never seem to cross my mind. I guess it's because Americans are famous for being so patriotic.

    It was definitely a little strange to hear Midnight OIl on the radio. Like when we were in Mexico many years ago, and heard INXS in a taxi ride - the driver then just about wet himself with excitement when he found out we were Australian, and told us that every Saturday night he'd go to the local discotheque (his words) and dance to INXS.

  3. Yes, flag-waving equals fear and loathing here in the land of Oz - I think I wrote about that in my Australia Day post?

    But not so where you are (I think it's the Confederate flag you've got to worry about, yeah?). I had an American penpal when I was a young girl and he sent me a tiny American flag and I treasured it. May still have it somewhere!

    I love reading this stuff, Mad. Love it!

  4. Can't say I've seen any Confederate flags in this neck of the woods! But the sheer amount of US flags around... it still amazes me. Driving around today, it seemed as though every block must have at least one flag flying - both downtown and in the suburban bit.

    So glad you enjoy reading this! Thanks.