Parenting Culture Gap - Valentine's Day Edition

14 February 2012

According to Wikipedia"a culture gap is any systematic difference between two cultures which hinders mutual understanding or relations. Such differences include the values, behavior, education, and customs of the respective cultures. Culture gaps can relate to religion, ethnicity, age, or social class. Examples of cultural differences that may lead to gaps include social norms and gender roles."

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished members of the reading audience; I have a parenting culture gap. That's not new to me. I am afterall a Nigerian parenting Nigerian-American twins in Canada. I've always known that it would be a tight-rope walk for me as the twins grew older, but I did not expect my first culture gap event so early. What event you ask? Valentines day of course.

Last time I checked, valentines day was a day for lovers to celebrate stuff - a romantic time for older couples and a day of hormone filled events for teenagers. For babies and toddlers though, I expect that valentines day is just another day. Boy was I wrong! The daycare planned a valentines day party for the kids and asked parents to bring snacks so I dutifully went to the store and purchased cheese puffs for the class and that was that. When I picked up the girls this evening, here's what I got:

Baby Valentines
Each of the girls got a little valentine's card from just about every other kid in the center. In 2 million years, it would not have crossed my mind to buy valentines cards for the twins to give to their classmates. Not at this age anyway. Talk about parenting culture shock! I'm just glad the girls are too young to know that they went to school without any valentines cards.

In all honesty, this is an inconsequential matter for now. However I need to work on my knowledge of some of the norms around here so my babies are not socially disadvantaged among their peers due to cultural differences.

I suspect this will be the first of many posts on on parenting in North America for expats. While I'm on that note, Megan and Brad commented on yesterday's post expressing their surprise that we could survive on just 4 books. Peeps, I need to tell you - mommy is not the one doing the reading. I'm an avid reader and one of my dreams is to raise kids who love reading as much as I do. However, I am quite content to achieve this by surrounding them with books but not necessarily reading to them. At least not at this stage. I know a lot of parents are able to read to their babies, but so far reading time hasn't worked in our casa. How do you get twin toddlers to sit still? I never make it past one page before the girls start trying to flip the pages by themselves or grab the book away from me or get bored and walk away. We'll call that Tuesday Confession!

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