Tuesday, March 31, 2009
It's official - we're becoming Kiwified.
How do I know this?
- I no longer bristle uncomfortably when the lovely ladies at our local New World tease out my life story, flick through my magazine and comment on the latest gossip, and remark on the products I'm buying, all while processing my groceries. What at first seemed weird and intrusive, feels quite normal now, and their happiness is infectious. I always leave the supermarket with a smile on my face (even though the bill is usually quite scary).
- The kids say: 'Sweet as!" local slang for "Cool" or "Fab". And C. calls thongs 'jandals'.
- C. hardly ever wears shoes and it no longer bothers me. (He fits in with his mates).
- I've become quite the demon driver. You have to be to survive Auckland traffic (and pedestrians for that matter!)
- I no longer have hysterics when the kids go crazy in parks and playgrounds. I'm resigned to the sight of roundabouts, monkey bars, climbing frames and slippery slides now. Sure, they come home with a few more scratches and bruises than they used to, but there have been no serious injuries yet. (Touch wood).
- And here's the big one: I'm starting to like the accent!
Some things take getting used to though.
- The kids are constantly nagging me to let them walk to and from school on their own, because so many of their friends do. Call me a helicopter parent, but at 8 and 6, crossing busy city roads (with the aforementioned crazy drivers), alone? That's not going to be happening any time soon.
- The kids are constantly nagging me to let them take public transport on their own. Again, because so many of their friends do.
- And I'm amazed at how many children their age are left home alone until their parents get home from work.
I guess Auckland feels a lot like growing up in country Queensland did. When I was a girl, Mum would often nip out to the shops and tell us to lock the door and not answer if strangers came knocking. We rode our bikes to and from school on our own. We played on equipment now deemed dangerous by Australian authorities, understandably leery of legal action. And no real harm ever came to us. (Unless we were naughty and Mum got the strap out!)
Of course, Auckland's city centre is much like any other city - full of busy workers, impatient drivers, dusty streets, drunks, drug users and homeless people. But move just a few kilometres away, and the pace is more relaxed, the people friendlier, and life that little more laid back than we're used to back home.
And luckily, we like it.