“Mommy, where’s the bubbler?”
My daughter and I were at the mall a few years ago and she asked me about a bubbler. I assume I gave her that deer in headlights look because it was followed up with, “Mommy, I am thirsty and I need the bubbler!” Now I had a little more of a clue, but I thought maybe she was discussing a kind of fizzy drink. After another minute or two of utter frustration she said, with great exasperation, “It’s that thing where I can get a drink of water. I just want a drink of water!!” Aha! A water fountain! She just wanted a water fountain. Crisis averted.
As I recounted this story to others, I realized that there are challenges to being a Little Rhody transplant who is raising two born and bred Rhode Islanders. My husband is a native Pittsburgher and I come from Long Island. Each of these areas has its own quirks. New Yorkers are known to get into fights about which pizza place has the best slice, and in Pittsburgh, they put french fries on sandwiches and salads. When a Long Islander goes to the movies, she waits “on line” and when a person from the ‘Burgh has a dirty car it “needs washed.” Having lived in several cities, I have always enjoyed learning the things that make each one different.
We moved here 16 years ago, so my kids have never known anything different than living in Providence. They have picked up their share of local idiosyncrasies. These are the ones that are the most pronounced.
In a 2002 NY Times article, the writer, Paul Lukas, stated, “…how has Rhode Island managed to keep so many of its food traditions intact? And why haven’t they migrated beyond the state line?” My kids have fully embraced many of the foods that are connected to Rhode Island. Pizza strips, Del’s lemonade, clam cakes, doughboys – all are household favorites. From the time they could talk, my kids knew that a sign with pink and orange = donuts. By kindergarten age, each of them had tried coffee milk at school. I can appreciate all these foods and agree that summer is not complete with several trips to the clam shacks, but there is a different level of reverence with my kids.
I grew up about 40 minutes from NY City and would frequently take the train in for a show or to go to a museum. My kids start asking, “Are we there yet??” in Cranston…when we are driving to Warwick. Snacks and water in the car are required if we are driving more than half an hour, and I often hear grumblings when I suggest that we go somewhere that will force us to be in the car for longer than that. They are always amazed when I tell them how, as a kid, we used to drive from Long Island to Buffalo to visit relatives – an 8-hour drive and we were still in the same state. My kids enjoy having their lives within a small radius of our house.
This one has been tough for me. When I got married, the officiant commented that it was a mixed marriage – the bringing together of a Mets fan and a Pirates fan. Moving to New England, I should have known it would only be a matter of time before my children would leave my sports teams behind. My daughter was co-opted into being a NY Giants fan for a while, but once she reached school age it was all things Patriots and Red Sox all the time. She speaks at length about Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, and Big Papi and feels that she is somewhat responsible for the Red Sox recent success (she was born 2 days before the Sox won the series in 2004 and therefore she was a “good luck” baby.) It breaks my heart a little bit every time she trash talks my teams, but I do appreciate her loyalty.
Embrace of the Unique
My kids have always relished the quirky and odd things that one only finds in Rhode Island. They love seeing the Big Blue Bug as we drive down 95. They have climbed all over the giant Mr. Potato Head at the Roger Williams Park playground. They love Waterfire, Rocky Point Clam Shack, and visiting the giant Buddha at the RISD Museum. They appreciate that within 20 minutes of our house are all the advantages of a city, as well as large farms where they can go apple and berry picking. Bubbler incident aside, it is nice to see my kids embracing their native state. After all, we would not live in Rhode Island if it was not wicked awesome.