There are several cultural differences between Brazil and the United Kingdom (nothing too bizarre, though) that we learn when we have contact with life in both countries. I’m Brazilian, and I live in the UK for 7 and a half years, which I consider time enough to get used to some of these differences. Some were actually welcomed, some I understand but don’t accept (or vice-versa?) and don’t follow. Others I just have to go with the flow, because there are no alternatives. Here are some that became apparent this Easter:
* Laura caught chicken pox. In Brazil there is vaccine against it and several people asked me if Laura – being daughter of a Brazilian – had been vaccinated. No, this is not common here. It might be if you decide to go to a private doctor, but we are part of the average middle class families and we use the NHS (public) system for everything health related. It isn’t a perfect system, but it has been working for us and it helped me to relax and be less paranoid and hypochondriac.
* As a child with chicken pox, the recommendation is that we avoid public spaces – like nursery and playgroups – for obvious reasons. But it didn’t stop us from having fun this Easter. We had a couple of friends over on Saturday, the girls (one is 3 weeks younger than Laura, the other is 2 months younger) had loads of fun together. The two had chicken pox last year, the mothers (one of the also pregnant) also had it when kids. So we were all safe. On Sunday we went to the house of the couple I met on the train (I briefly mentioned about it here) and, since their kids are vaccinated, they didn’t mind us being there. Laura again had load of fun and we were impressed how well she played with their boy, roughly 1 year older than her. They also have a 20 months old daughter, who joined in for some of the fun. I have a feeling that if we were in Brazil, Laura would have stayed indoors the whole Easter holiday.
* What does a Brazilian child have for Easter? LOADS of chocolate. What does a British child have for Easter? Maybe a carrot cake? One tiny chocolate egg? An easter bunny toy? It was a holiday of mixed attitudes – at one end the Brazilians thinking “yeah, whatever, it’s just chocolate and it’s Easter”, on the other the foreigners thinking “chocolate?! No way, were are the fruits? Enough of chocolate, you had five of these tiny eggs”.
* It’s freezing in the UK and as a paranoid Brazilian mother, my first option is to keep my daughter indoors, especially because she has chesty cough and runny nose (to the point she cannot sleep at night). Our British host thinks the opposite: it’s cold, but it’s sunny, so let’s all go out to get some fresh air – it will be good to all of us. Laura had a good hour of running and playing in the freezing cold, much to my despair, but, hey, she is a local, isn’t she?
Life is all about learning and adapting, so I try to learn and adapt as much as I can. Some things will be with me forever, because I firmly believe in them; others are not part of my life anymore as I learned that they were just ways of doing something, but not necessarily the best way. I try, as much as possible, not to preach any sort of rules when it comes to raising children – I’m far from being an expert. So give them chocolate if you feel like giving them chocolate; give them carrots if you feel like giving them carrots.