Why Me? Why Now?

I spent much of my first and second winter bundled and be-toqued, perched upon a toboggan transformed by my father into the ultimate cold-weather baby chariot. A chassis set atop the toboggan, lined with foam padding and sleeping bags became the mobile nest from which I was introduced to the Canadian outdoors. Pulled by my dad on cross-country skis, we glided through Eastern Ontario woods, or skated down the frozen Rideau Canal.


 


My daughter, on the other hand, has spent much of her first and second year nursing in airport lounges or wandering up and down the aisles of a Boeing 777, as we make yet another Pacific crossing. She knows nothing of skates, or skis, or four-foot snow drifts. 


 


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My childhood was perfectly ordinary. Perfectly Canadian. Outhouses, mosquitoes, and springtime sugar shacks populate my memories. There were never-ending car trips up and down the length of Ontario in the backseat of a beat up station wagon. And summers on Georgian Bay where I learned to paddle a canoe, build a camp fire, and whittle the perfect bannock stick. It was the stuff of an Atwoodian short story, with, perhaps, a bit less pathos and certainly much less poetry.


 


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My daughter, too, is Canadian, but her upbringing thus far, has been vastly different from mine. Her youth, all 18 months of it, has been the stuff Therouxian travelogue: never-ending jet lag, three continents and three languages. Stella frolics on the grounds of Shinto shrines. She bows when she meets other kids. Stella has never been in a canoe. She has yet to be introduced to the delights of bacon with maple syrup. Rather, Stella chows down on sushi and soba noodles, and wields a fondue fork with deftness and skill. 


 


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In many ways, though, my daughter's experience is very Canadian. She's the child of an immigrant--her father proudly received Canadian citizenship in 2007. She is, in her Japanese-Swiss-Canadian self, the embodiment of multiculturalism, and will, one day, know more than I could ever hope to learn about culture and identity.


 


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I'm tasked with raising my third-culture-kid to be Canadian when much of her life has been spent outside her passport country. Standing outside of the typical Canadian parenting arena, I have distance (several thousand kilometers thereof) and thus perspective on the theories, practices, trials, and joys of raising a Canadian kid. While I am united with my Canadian peers by universal parenting struggles (notably #zombiemomism, monumental messes, and impending toilet training {oh help mah gawd halp}), I also face unique challenges: raising a trilingual child; navigating the myriad and sundry parenting questions that emerge from this tri-cultural tapestry; and figuring out a way to teach my kid that there's more to Canada than the Edmonton Oilers and maple syrup on bacon. I look at parenting through a different lens. Whether it be a new take on weaning a toddler, a recent internet co-sleeping controversy, or the joy that I have found in Asia's instance on letting children be children, I see things differently than the typical Canadian parent.


 


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And that, dear internet, is why I'm submitting this entry in hopes of becoming Today's Parent's next blogger. Wish me luck!


 


For three of my favourite posts, please see here, wherein I discuss one of the parenting lessons I’ve learned in Asia. And here, where I reveal that acceptance and tolerance of difference is much harder in practice than it is in theory, and here where I show you what traveling with a toddler is really like.