I miss America

I just watched the film Blindside the other day and it really made me miss America. Let me preface this by letting you know I have spent a lot of my life living and travelling abroad, so I am not one of these people who has never truly experienced diverse cultures. I have lived in Europe, Canada, and Africa for several years each. But never have I missed my home more than now, living in England with my young family.  I feel like I am living in a cocoon over here separate from everything and everyone that is important to me.  My children are growing up without any relatives close by and with less than a handful of friends.  I actually miss the culture of America and everything Americans stand for.  I know that lots of people will have negative things to say about American culture but once you have children and live abroad you realize all the good things that your kids are missing out on — things that you took for granted growing up in America.  Let me list a few important things that I miss:

1.  The sports/activity mentality – At home kids are always playing an active game of some sort, whether organized or not.  Softball/baseball, swimming, soccer, tag, red light/green light, hockey (in an ice rink or on the pond out back with neighborhood kids), sledding, snowball fights with well built snow forts, basketball, throwing a football around, and the list just goes on and on.  That’s what kids do.  If the weather is at all passable, they go outside and play something.  My whole childhood was spent outside with friends.  Here in England, kids are just not encouraged to go outside and play as much.  There are lots of organized playgroups or visits to museums and such but not just free playing outside.  Maybe the weather is a main issue since it basically rains all winter long.  Or maybe there just isn’t as much free space around.  And don’t get me started on ‘Elf and Safety.  I don’t know but I miss carefree America.

2.  Team sports in school – this is somewhat related to #1 but after seeing Blindside I was jones-ing for an American football game.  The adrenaline of cheering your team on to win a tight game, especially if your child is playing, is an amazing natural high.  Winning is great!  Losing sucks but is a necessary part of learning about life.  I have no patience with games in school where “everyone wins”.  That’s ridiculous and unhealthy.  I see a lot of that over here in England.  Hopefully, that trend isn’t starting in America as well.

The sports over here are just not as exciting to me.  And there seems to be less of them to choose from especially for girls.

3.  Moms being friendly and connecting with you because you both have kids – this seems strange but lately as I have been taking Will to pre-school and waiting to pick him up, I have had some disappointing interactions with the British mums as we wait to be let into the school at noon.  Here is a gist of what happens:  I walk up to the gate where there are three or four other mums.  I say a friendly, “Hello!” and smile.  I get small grins and murmured, “Hello” back.  Then everyone shifts their eyes elsewhere.  We stand in silence.  So I try again.  “We finally got some sun today”.  I direct this to the nearest mum.  She smiles, says, “Yes” and we stand there quietly again.  Nervously waiting, shifting feet, staring at the door, uncomfortable….. silent.  It’s ridiculous!  I just know at home, there would be a hum of conversation and just a smile at one of the moms would get a conversation started.  I never thought I was a social butterfly but I miss socializing.

4.  The sun – Boy, am I sun deprived here!  I am used to being drenched in sun, having spent a good majority of my life in a southern state.  The perpetual darkness in this country actually depresses me.  Don’t underestimate the power of bad weather on your long-term psyche.  I can understand why the early English left England and tried to conquer the world. The weather had to be better anywhere else.   If it was my fate to live permanently on this windy, rainy island I would do my damnedest to find a nice, warm, sunny island to take-over.

So that’s all I have time for.  Kids are up and clamouring for my attention.  I have no idea what we are going to do — it’s raining again.

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