What it means to be a third culture kid


I sighed and turned my head, trying to hide my annoyance.

“Does your dad say, ‘Hello’ or ‘ello’ or ‘ay-lo’?”

I told them I wasn’t answering. It didn’t matter. They were American and didn’t they understand how utterly annoying it was to overhear them mimic an accent they had rarely heard in-person, as if they knew what they were talking about. Didn’t they understand that it was rude and no Brit would find it amusing to have their accent mimicked like that, for fun? I had been eavesdropping, listening to this on-going conversation for days-on-end, dragged into it on more than one occasion. They wanted to know how to sound like my father, because British accents are cool.

I said no.

Along with my adamant refusal was so much that was lost on these girls.

My refusal to play along came from a place much deeper than my momentary annoyance at their cacophony, or my foul mood.

Simply put. I was offended and hurt. These people, and many other people I’ve encountered in my life, had reduced my father’s culture to a handful of oddly-pronounced words. They never asked me about my relationship with my father, or what it’s like to grow up on the other side of the world from your grandparents. They didn’t ask if I wished someone else in my life could make a decent cup of tea, or what it’s like to have a parent who isn’t a citizen (not that different, but still – different), or if I found making trifle at Thanksgiving was odd. They didn’t ask what my father went through, not living in his home-culture and seeing his parents on a bi-yearly basis (if all goes well). They didn’t ask what it was like growing up not being able to imagine your father’s childhood, or if my mother was at an odd disadvantage not intimately knowing my dad’s background.

Rather, they thought if they dropped their “r”s and “h”s and raised their voices at the end of statements, they knew the very exciting life of a Brit.

I don’t like it when people minimize another’s lifestory.

They called me grumpy and we never spoke of it again.


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