Ask any expat how they keep ties with their home country and the answers will usually be similar. Some make a concerted effort to travel "home" regularly, some Skype with family and friends, maybe they keep themselves updated with Facebook or perhaps they have that regular ET moment each week, where they, 'phone home'.
If you're an expat parent, there's usually a conscious effort to make sure your child understands where they are from. An Australian expat toddler may be made to endure endless Wiggles, Play School and High Five DVD's while wearing their "someone in Noosa loves me" t-shirt. An American toddler will pledge allegiance to the flag, a Canadian will be adorned in Maple Leafs while wearing skates, an Indian or Pakistani child may own a cricket bat. A Brit will know that it is always Football and never Soccer.
When the Little Travelers speak I constantly correct them if an "un-Australian" term is used. "They are not cookies they're biscuits, it's not Trash, its Rubbish, it's Jelly not Jello" these were regular conversations when we were living in North America. Why do we bother? Well, apart from the fact that an Australian fairy dies every time a child with an Australian passport declares they don't like Vegemite or Tim Tams there's also the snicker that inevitably appears when you're on your visit home. The snicker that comes just before someone decides to take the mickey out of the way your child speaks.
After spending time with Granny on the last trip home, the Little Travelers asked if we could purchase the Australian television series "Packed to the Rafters". For all of the above reasons I decided it was a fantastic idea, a chance for us all to sit and have a bit of Aussie Culcha. Lined up on the couch, we began to watch Episode One. G and I grinned as we listened to the Aussie accents, we sighed as the camera panned over Sydney, then things became a little complicated.
I didn't have a problem coming up with an excuse for why Dave Rafter swallowed 4 or 5 Viagra before his 25th wedding anniversary dinner, (he had a headache), but when he made the trip to the ER and the nurse explained that "she was going to have to drain some of the blood from his erect penis" it was G who jumped up and started running towards the television exclaiming "turn it off, push stop, where's the remote, where's the remote!" We decided maybe they weren't quite ready.
This is how we entered the world of McLeods Daughters.
McLeods Daughters is quite dated (the jeans are very high in series 1 and 2) but it has been perfect for our 10 and 8 year old daughters, the boys who are 7 and 4 could take it or leave it (it's dependent on the food provided during viewing). So far, the Mcleod women have shared some great messages, our children have seen strong Aussie chicks running a property, riding horses, changing tyres, fixing tractors, all the stuff we country *cough* girls do. That noise you just heard was my Father laughing hysterically.
There's been a few plot lines that have provided the perfect opportunity for discussion, things like pregnancy, alcholism and extra marital affairs but nothing I would consider inappropriate. Which is why today's conversation on the way home from school came as a bit of a surprise.
"I'm going to ask you a question Mummy, and I'd like you to be honest with me" said the Second Little Traveler. They'd been celebrating St Patricks Day at school, I was expecting a Leprechaun question, you know like 'is there really a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow' type question. Instead I got this.
"Were you pregnant when you married Daddy", my answer was no, because I wasn't, as I started to explain that there would have been absolutely nothing wrong with me being pregnant before we were....she cut in with "I just wanted to make sure that Daddy was our Father, because if he's not you should probably let us know". Thank you Clare McLeod!
We ran through the conversation again, I stuck to the details, not pregnant, married Daddy, First Little Traveler came 18 months later. You all look like Dad, definitely no question that all of you belong to your Father. Just look at your mutant long arms, that's Dad. Right. Okay. Everyone got their seat belts on? What would everyone like for dinner?
As we made our way a little further down the road the Second Little Traveler continued. She wanted to once again confirm that a "special cuddle' was required to make a baby, she also just wanted to re-confirm the logistics of the "special cuddle". She knew the answers to her questions but this was just the lead in. While the First Little Traveler winced and made comments like "I think I might vomit" The Third Little Traveler let us all know that the "special cuddle" didn't really make any sense "Why didn't they make it easier? Why don't we just put our noses together and shoot boogers in to each other noses? No need to lie down".
After the giggles had subsided the real questions came "Don't you have to be careful you don't do it accidently? Have you done it when you're asleep? Like, have you ever woken up, well, you know, oopsy daisy?"
Blunt, nosey, snot jokes and to the point. I think we're doing a pretty good job of raising them as Australians.
Ever had some explaining to do? How important is patriotism in your house?