I was reading this post by Rachel about third-culture-kids the other day. Stella's about as third-culture as they come. Born into a bi-cultural family in a country where neither parent has citizenship, and now, she's growing up in a whole new culture entirely.
And it kind of makes for some odd situations.
Like, for example, she knows the Thai word for watch, but not the English one. Or Swiss. Or Indonesian, for that matter.
She has super odd ideas (I mean, in my opinion) about what constitutes typical breakfast fare.
Her play is a mish-mash of various cultural inputs, as, for example, she spends hours bok-bok-boking her babies to sleep, prefers to feed them rice than pabulum, and insists on carrying them around in a salandang.
This kid can rattle off the names of about half a dozen different languages, can sing about geckos in Indonesian, say "yummie" in Japanese, "thank you" in Chinese, and "Sleep well in German."
My girl, at two-years-old has a greater grasp on the geography of South East Asia than she does of either her own two passport counties. She can name several East Asian cities, but approximately zero Canadian ones. She has spent more time in America than in Canada, yet when I ask Stella, "where are you from?" her anwer is usually CANADA!
But what does she know of snow or hockey or Tim Hortons or loonies and toonies? I doubt she could spot a snowman if asked. She's never dug into a snowbank and built a quincy hut. She's never seen a tobogan. She has no idea about toques, Canadian Thanksgiving, CSAs and strawberry picking (btw, Tragic Sandwitch just wrote about her CSA basket, and now I'm homesick) Winterlude, or the connection between Victoria day and the first swim of the season. How rooted is she in Canadian culture, really, I mean, besides being force-fed maple syrup and pancakes at every opportunity. And does this actually even matter?
These cultural questions are confounded by the fact that she is the product of Swiss and Canadian parentage. Because my own culture is Canadian, and my grasp of Swiss culture does not extend much beyond timely trains and excellent chocolate, I feel totally ill-equipped to be my child's bond to Swiss-ness.
I will say that my child does apologize all the time, which is basically a law in Canada, so we've got that going. But in all seriousness, does any of this really matter?
I'm leaning towards no. I mean, I haven't lived in Canada, properly, full-time since about the year 2000. I still call myself Canadian, but I don't really identify with my home country anymore. I have no idea what's going on at home, politically, socially, culturally, or even saratorially. I can't vote there. I don't even know, really, what the government is up to, or who is the political leader of my province. I'm sure that there are aspects of my home culture that influence my behaviours, and shape my world view. But these have shifted and adjusted as I spent more and more time outside my own country. And I don't think that has negatively affected me.
But is it the same for a kid? I mean, I gather that culture, and history, and a sense of belonging are important in establishing one's identity, but is it necessary for one to basically transplant one's culture to a new environment to achieve this?
I dunno. Just some random questions and now wise or insightful answers. If, however, you happen to have any ideas / answers / wisdome on the subject, pelase do share.
Oh, and ps, here's another blog about another TKC that I'd suggest getting to know.