Three Reasons I know I’m not parenting in America
Posted on 25 October, 2014
I am always pretty aware that I’m in Ireland. It can be hard to forget the simple fact of where you are but sometimes I read so many American blogs and articles that I think, yes things are like that here too. Well, this week has reminded me I am definitely not parenting in America!
1) Earlier this week I rang a child care centre that we are thinking of sending Ewan for an afternoon a week next year. I was advised by other parents that I should enroll him now. I decided to ring and ask about going to visit the place before we enroll him. At the time that seemed reasonable, responsible even. Asking to visit the center got a reaction of complete silence followed by her echoing what I had just said. ” So you’d like to visit, here, to see the place, you’d like to come here, before you enroll him to see the place”. As she spoke it was clear she wasn’t against the idea she was just completely thrown by the fact that I wanted to come and look at the place. I got the feeling no one had ever asked before. I said I was happy to call whenever suited them, again she didn’t dislike the idea but she just wasn’t sure how it would all work out. She took my number and said she’d ask other staff what they thought and get back to me. I haven’t heard back from them yet. Compare this to the American bloggers Joanna Goddard post about 8 questions to ask potential care givers.
If, as Joanna suggested, I had asked her “Have you ever had a philosophical difference with parents you’ve worked for?” I think she would have recommended that I see a doctor or she may have needed one herself!
2) My suspicions that Ireland isn’t America have been compounded by Halloween. On the other side of the Atlantic the blogosphere and instagram accounts are lined with homemade costume creations from the sublime to the ridiculous. Here the idea of a homemade costume stuns people to silence (again) and generally confuses people. Yesterday Ewan and I went to the parent and toddler group in fancy dress for their Halloween party. The thirty something children were all dressed in impressive shop bought costumes. (Things have changed from the days of black sacks and a hat). I dressed Ewan in the same costume I made for him last year. The group are really friendly and his costume was complimented. That was until I mentioned that I had made it. The responses of anyone I told was the same “YOU MADE IT!” It was not that they were impressed it was more that they couldn’t believe what I had said. It was as if I had declared that I bathe him in special milk sourced and imported from South African organic goat herders.
One woman’s immediate reaction was “What? YOU MADE IT! How many children do you have again?”
“One” I answered.
“Ahhhh! ” She said as an enlightened look came over her face. The world made sense again.
3) The third reason I’m fully aware that I’m not parenting in America came about when I read a great article about How American parenting is killing American marriage. (The article is worth a read and talks about one of my pet hates “Baby on Board” signs!). The premise of the article is that “Nothing in life is allowed to be more important than our children, and we must never speak a disloyal word about our relationships with our offspring.” and therefore marriages and relationships suffer. Initially, this seemed plausible to me but when I thought about it friends and strangers alike are never afraid to say when their children are being eejits, driving them to despair and generally waging psychological warfare against them and their partner. Instead of Irish parenting ruining a marriage sometimes it sounds like the craziness of raising children brings partners huddling together against the next unforeseen hurricane. Irish parents have more of a “don’t leave me alone with them” attitude than a “don’t take me away from them” attitude that the article suggests.
On mature reflection I am 100% confident that I am not in America. Now that that’s cleared up I am off to enjoy the bank holiday weekend!