Two weeks in, I’m very pleased to say that not all of my initial impressions of Silicon Valley are holding true. Our comfort seems to grow with our experience, and each day we find our feet just that little bit more.
This got me thinking. Adults – Cam and I – only make up two fifths of our family; less than half of the Mence-Barrins contingent! To truly speak on behalf of ‘we’, I’ve realised I should be documenting perspectives other than my own.
And so, this post isn’t about my own first impressions. It’s about Clara’s.
Rewind a few months. I think it’s safe to say that I really did worry about the impact this move would have on my kids. Truth be told, however, it’s been manageable. I mean, there’s jet lag, a yet unfamiliar ‘home’, and the heartbreaking questions like ‘can my kindergarten friends come to my birthday?’ and ‘when are we going back to Australia?’. But it has, on the whole, been an opportunity for robust discussion about life and its quirks.
The girls are learning to cope with change while still young. And I love that.
Cece is one and Coco is two, so either they can’t express themselves verbally or they’re oblivious to the change. I don’t think it’s the latter, though. Take Clara, for instance. She’s almost four years old and asks so many questions!
It’s one of my very favourite things about the stage of development that Clara has reached: that we can now have such interesting little conversations. In an attempt to keep her gorgeous mind ticking over, I’ve taken the opportunity to chat with her about the fascinating topic of American Terminology.
Here are some things I’ve uttered recently:
- They don’t appear to have porridge in the supermarkets here – it’s called ‘oats’
- Tomato sauce is called ‘ketchup’, Clara!
- Autumn is called ‘Fall’ (Clara: ‘What, like falling over?’ *hysterical laughter*)
- Cece’s dummy is called a ‘pacifier’!
- No, that’s not a ‘lift’ – it’s an ‘elevator’
- No, there’s no ‘G’ (ground floor) button – you’ve got to press ‘1’ for the ground floor! (Clara: ‘What? That’s silly!’)
- ‘Biscuit’? Nope, ‘cookie’
- That’s not a ‘footpath’ – it’s actually the ‘sidewalk’
- It would seem that you’re ‘klair-a’ here, Clara and not ‘klah-ra’ (Clara: *grumpy face*)
- Do you know what they call the ‘car boot’ in America? The trunk! (Clara: ‘like an elephant?’ *crazy laughter*)
I guess after coming into contact with countless new words, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that she’d start asking me a little more about American language.
‘Mummy, what are apples called in America?’
‘Apples’ are called ‘apples’!
‘Whaaaaaaaaaaat? Apples are called apples?’
This was followed by a massive round of hysterical laughter that quite honestly lasted an entire day. Every person she met, spoke to, or Skyped, she asked ‘did you know apples are called apples in America?’ which was then followed by a fresh bout of her infectious cackling.
It’s not all giggles, though.
I’ve noticed Clara’s starting to sing these sad little songs, usually at moments that would otherwise be quite mundane.
I’m in a car with Coco, Cece, and Mummy and Daddy.
It’s so boring.
We’re going to the shops.
And then there are the times when she sits down at the table with paper and textas and draws a bunch of (beautiful) squiggly lines. Clara tells us she’s writing letters to her friends in Australia and reads them aloud as she writes:
I will miss you so much.
So, so much.
I miss you so much.
I miss you.
Heartbreaking, right? Mainly because our days, at the moment, are all about errands and not at all about fun or friends.
I guess these funny little conversations about words and observations are our way of finding joy in the banal. I try to cultivate that joy at every chance I get, hoping with all my heart that one day the enthusiasm she shows in her observations over the word ‘apples’ will apply to her experience with change more generally.
Today, we headed to the park, something that has now become an enjoyable daily ritual amongst the mountain of endless errands.
In a sad little voice, Clara lamented: ‘I’m just so ready to go and see the American beaches, Mummy’.
Soon, honey. Soon.
But then I asked her what her favourite thing is about America.
‘My favourite thing is cars!’
‘They’re just so beautiful. So, so beautiful. They make me so happy.’
‘…and Mummy, did you know ‘apples’ are called ‘apples’?’
To hell with rose-coloured glasses. I want kid-coloured glasses. Don’t you?