Aaren Brumley: Raising Southern kids outside of the South
Here's a quick excerpt of my daily routine:
Once upon a time, there were three little marshmallows.
“No, no pigs!” Oh, that’s right, pigs. Anyway, they built a house made out of bubbles.
“No, it was straw!” You’re right, straw. Well, they built their house of straw and were all living happily until one day when the goose came a’knockin!
“NO, it was the WOLF!” Of course! The big bad wolf!
Knock knock knock. Little pigs, little pigs let me come in! Not by the hair on our chinny chin chins! At this point, each child gets tickles in turn and hilarious giggling ensues.
The story continues in the same fashion through the end with the kids correcting my every mistake for character names, always with bated breath of the anticipated tickles. It’s a fun semi-nightly routine for a 2-, 4- and 5-year-old that love bedtime stories.
These are ENC-born children being raised in another part of the country. The military calls and we love and miss home but we cannot stay. We live where Southern mannerisms are something of an anomaly. We keep it alive at home though. You say “yes sir” and "no sir," “yes ma’am" and "no ma’am."
You say it even when someone tells you you don’t have to because if you don’t you know that you’ll get into trouble with Mama and Daddy. We can’t buy Ann's Pastry strips at Walmart here because they don’t sell it so we’ve learned how to make chicken pastry the old-fashioned way. McDonald's doesn’t sell biscuits and gravy, it’s a Southern thing and summer storms don’t exist here, just hot dry desert nights.
These kids may not get to grow up in the South like we did but we keep it in our hearts and in our home. “Y'all” is a phrase used in all of its multi-faceted terms.
Y’all! stop jumping on the bed!
Y'all? Why is everyone so quiet; what are you up to?
Y'all -- don’t look now but that lady over there is letting her kids run wild and if that was you, you know what would happen.
We talk about North Carolina and Grandma and Granddaddy and how much we miss them. We fly home twice a year and always, always the kids are complimented for their manners on the plane. Living elsewhere has given us the opportunity to appreciate new things and to learn and grow.
It has also taught us to appreciate what we took for granted at home.
Trees ... we live in a desert now. You can be at one mountain range and see another miles and miles away. There’s a joke here that if your dog runs away, you can see him going for three days. Its probably true.
The landscape is barren, no trees unless they’re planted and watered or grass for that matter. Not to be unfair, it is beautiful in its own way but how we miss the trees and the green grass and the rain.
My children won’t have the blessing of being raised in North Carolina but they will know the meaning of “bless your heart.”