American Etiquette

(15 Posts)
markymark Thu 20-Jun-13 14:25:34

Only 6 weeks to go until we move to the States and I've been thinking how and the DCs meet new friends. Got me thinking - are there any things we do in the UK that would make me look a bit rude, or things I should do there that we don't here?

Should I take biscuits to a play date? Would it look a bit odd to ask to swap numbers in the playground?

I'm quite confident normally and happy to feel along as I go - but if anyone has any tips to minimise my blushes I'd appreciate them!

Watching this thread grin

Where are you moving to in the US markymark?

markymark Thu 20-Jun-13 14:38:43

San Francisco - or the Bay Area at least. We're looking at places in the East Bay.

Are you moving too?

Yes, from Singapore to Houston Texas, we arrive end of July. We have school aged dds so your question is spot on for me too!

MinnesotaNice Thu 20-Jun-13 14:46:29

The one thing that threw me off for a few weeks when I moved to the UK is everyone kept asking me "are you alright/okay?" It took me a while to realize (when I heard other moms from DS1's nursery saying it to each other) that this is just a standard greeting. I think in the US we would tend to say "how are you?" or "how are you doing?" I spent weeks thinking that I must look tired or messy or something but they were just being polite! grin

moggle Thu 20-Jun-13 14:53:40

Did you ask a question the other day about words that are different in the US from UK? Can't remember!

Can't think of anything offhand, but when I lived in the US aged 10-12, one thing our family found odd was that the default when you meet your friends' parents, you are expected to call them Mr and Mrs X. I only had a couple of friends whose parents said "oh please call me Joyce" or whatever, for the rest they were always referred to as Mr and Mrs, I didn't even know their first names. Even my parents didn't know their first names, so would refer to them the same way.

How old are your kids - are they school age? Will they meet many kids before school starts? We had this problem a bit as we arrived in our new house in August. I was lucky as our next door neighbours had a daughter the same age as me, who turned out to be in my class at school. But my brother didn't really meet any friends his age until he went to school.

The other thing I remember from starting school for the first time without uniform, "back to school clothes" was a fairly big deal. I turned up for the first day in the kind of clothes I would wear after changing out of my school uniform in the UK, but I was by far the scruffiest girl there! Everyone else was in brand new clothes. For me it just added to the mystique I seemed to acquire of being the new girl and English to boot - my classmates thought my accent was "so cute" etc, but for my little bro it was another reason to get picked on.

markymark Thu 20-Jun-13 14:58:35

Some helpful points here - thanks! It wasn't me who started the other thread but am going to take a look.

DD is 5 and will be going into Kindergarten but DS is only 3 so going to need to find some playgroups or similar. We'll have a month there in temporary accommodation before school starts, it's looming ahead a bit at the moment as both DCs see friends most days at the moment.

wentshopping Fri 21-Jun-13 02:04:07

Marky I am not sure what they say in SF, but Butterflies - watch out for children addressing adults as ma'am and sir - you will overhear parents requiring them to answer "yes ma'am" where we would say "yes" in the UK. When boys have come over to the house (age 10) they will use these terms.
Generally, no need to take food to a playdate, although it would be a good conversation starter - "here I have brought some [typical British whatever]". In Texas, biscuits are something else - like a pastry scone to eat at breakfast with eggs and sausage - so you might offer round a cookie smile
The strangest thing I had on a playdate was a mom wanting to look round my house before she left her child - I assume it was to check for no guns lying about, but who knows.
Moms also walk about with their phones glued to their faces so natural to swap numbers outside school.
Just thought - most schools have a drive through drop-off - so there is not as much school gate interaction as you might get where people walk their kids up to school - for this reason do not miss the first day of school or pre-term pta coffee morning as this will be an ideal way to meet people, possibly with kids in tow.

At our school most children arrive by school bus or in the drop off line, not many parents walk kids in, and wait for them after. But there is an area near the office with benches where some do stand and wait for pick up.
It's worth parking and waiting for the kids after school as that is how I met most of my friends here, our children were in Kindergarten together.
First week back ours have a back to school night, you go in about 6pm, theres a book sale, food for sale, sign ups from boy scouts, daisy girl scouts, Awanas etc and you get to go to your childrens classroom and the teacher gives a presentation, ours repeats it at 6 and 6.30 in case you have multiple children.
The other way I've met people was signing up to a local fitness centre, one that does classes (children's classes too), not just a gym with machines and also the local clubhouse to use the pool in summer.
Don't get upset when people who seem really nice and chat to you at certain places (like waiting for dance class to finish) say things like "we should do coffee" 9 times out of 10 it isn't going to happen, same with the "lets do lunch" and "I'll call you" many have their own established friends, church friends, old school friends, like a chat but aren't interested in much more. But good friends are out there, you'll find them. Most of mine are transplants themselves from other areas.

FamousFiveForever Fri 21-Jun-13 12:24:21

Hello Ladies, moving to New York area in a few weeks. With 3 little ones who will start school in September. Can't wait. We are hoping to stay, DH has the option on a Green Card. Am tired of moving with kids. Also pregnant with number four so hope to make friends at baby classes, play dates.

Want2bSupermum Sat 22-Jun-13 12:46:19

Hi Famous5 - where are you moving to? I am in NJ with a DD (2) and DS (4 months).

Interesting question... I can't think of anything. I don't know if it is because i have been over here for so long or if I am doing things wrong! I have found people here are quite relaxed. There are a lot of children on our street and they all play together outdoors during the warmer months. Everyone here calls parents by their first names and there is no sir or ma'am.

Kungfutea Mon 24-Jun-13 03:29:02

I think you have to smile more and be more cheery and positive than in uk. I always feel like such a miserable sod - and this is in NYC. I think Californians are even sunnier. It's an act, of course, but still....

Some of my dd's friends parents insist on mr and mrs. It does seem a bit weird and they corrected dd when she used their first names. No sir or ma'am though.

FamousFiveForever Mon 24-Jun-13 10:22:05

Hello Supermum, will move to Long Island, Manhasset area. Our Au Pair just got her visa apllication rejected so we have to push the date out. Sigh. Can't wait to get there but dreading the jet lag. It's always so so much worse for me travelling West. Ugh...

FamousFiveForever Mon 24-Jun-13 10:57:15

Kungfutea: LOL at your post. I will join you and be a scowling cow :-)
I'm not sure I can bring myself to be so positive all the time. Maybe it's the lack of meds? Read loads of weird posts about "Molly" and god knows whatsome SAHM take to cheer themselves up.

Want2bSupermum Mon 24-Jun-13 18:49:37

Did they give a reason for your au pair having her visa rejected coz that sucks to not be able to bring her over. It might be worth speaking to an immigration lawyer to see if she can come over on a domestic worker visa.

http://london.usembassy.gov/domestic.html

Def speak to the American Embassy in London on this if you don't have an immigration lawyer assigned to you already.

The always smiling thing is not too bad on the East coast but I am one of those people who smiles. DH has commented on it a few times that all hell can break loose and I have a smile on my face. Also, never ever say anything negative about America. It is fine for Americans to critique their country but they get very funny when you, as a foreigner, point out the obvious. In the UK we call a spade a spade and if something is good or bad we acknowledge it.

How did you end up choosing Long Island?

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