Friday, November 22, 2013
The day Jack came home from kindergarten Chinese
After a brief and intensely confusing conversation about why he was not in fact Chinese he showed me his latest school assignment.
We sat down together and read the information and Jack informed me we would be making flags together. Hence the Asian confusion from earlier.
This month his class is celebrating their shared heritage and the teacher wants each student to note theirs and draw the corresponding flag for each country they hail from. Attached was a short survey about cultural customs, dress, meals, and holidays that we observe.
So after lunch Jack and I got down to business and we started discussing the various countries both sides of our families are from. Surprisingly enough none of these countries or lands of origin are Asian in nature. Jack remained steadfastly confused. I don't blame the child.
The first flag we drew was the Spanish flag and he wanted to know why we didn't speak Spanish if we were from "the Spanish," as he calls it. I told him I didn't really know why but that we could both learn it. He remained unimpressed.
Then, when we moved on to Ireland and he wanted to know what language they spoke and I told him mostly English, his confusion deepened. We topped this all off with the grand old English flag and his confusion reached an entirely new depth not yet achieved by the Spanish and Irish flags.
Jack: "What do they speak in English?"
Me: "You mean England? English."
Jack: "Can you speak English?"
Me: "Yes and you can too. We are talking in English right now."
Jack: "How are we talking in English?"
Me: " We just are........"
Thankfully he stopped his line of questioning. So we stood back to reflect on Jack's flags and he was quite proud of his handy work.
We then got cracking on the survey that accompanied the flag project. It wanted to know what plants grew in his countries of origin.....oh dear....Then we got to what cultural customs do we practice in the home.....ohhhhhh dear. And we ended with a nice what holidays or traditions do you observe from your native land......ohhhhhh crap.
I wrote palm tree for plants because lets get real what the heck else can I put? I don't think Ireland or England have any super awesome flora or fauna we don't have here and well palm tree seemed cool, maybe even exotic. Spain is our only shot at a non W.A.S.P heritage here.
Big money no whammies SPAIN! I'm putting all our culturally cool eggs in one basket and that basket is named Spain. Never mind that the closest Jack has ever gotten to eating Spanish food was trying a tortilla once, he can say Adios and that has to count for something. Right? RIGHT? Si? SI? I'm speaking in Spanish now for added authenticity.
When Brian came home from work that night and Jack started showing him the flags he had drawn he proudly announced that tomorrow we were going to draw the Chinese flag.
Oh well. Maybe I will embrace the new Asian side of the Kelleys and fire up the wok. I can understand his level of confusion. Jack's kindergarten class is one of the more ethnically diverse groups of children I have seen and its a delight.
There are families hailing from the Philippines, Japan, China, Columbia, Vietnam and India. Its diversity at its very best. His best friends name is Sevin. He sits at a table with a boy named Pi and a girl named Chmoi. I'm told, by Jack, that I pronounce her name incorrectly. I'm pretty sure everyone that tries to say that name is not saying it correctly. I guess that's the risk you run when you name your kid Chmoi. Pi's parents had the right idea.
Because of Jack's level of confusion about his heritage, I felt the need to send a quick email to his teacher giving her a heads up about his muddled beliefs about his cultural ethnicity.
Dear Mrs. V,
I just wanted to write you a quick email to let you know that Jack has expressed some confusion regarding his cultural heritage and the flag project. He remains insistent that he is Chinese. You may or may not have realized that we are not of Asian descent. Jack remains unconvinced. We are rather, of a more European descent, and hail from Spain, England, Ireland and various other European countries. We just wanted you to be adequately prepared for his level of confusion regarding his country of origin. I will be sure to work with him in the days leading up to his presentation but thus far he remains at best distinctly confused.
Jack's non Asian mom Lily
I'm a bit concerned for his presentation to his class this Friday. He cannot remember which country belongs to which flag or what countries he is supposed to belong to for that matter. He believes Spanish is a country and is still completely covered in marker but he quite enjoyed himself which I think should be the point of a lot of school work for his age group.