It begins
Will you be my carpool friend?

In which my dinner inspires a pointless (as if I write any other kind) blog post

For dinner Phillip and I are having bulgogi over greens with sesame oil/soy sauce/rice vinegar vinaigrette and I am eating mine with chopsticks. (It tastes better that way.) Today I was thinking about how I basically refused to eat Asian food until I was 20ish, and then only because I was shamed into it, and I weep for all the excellent and not-worried-about-gaining-weight eating I could have done in my youth. I am still a finicky eater, but I have come a long long way. 

A few months ago I asked my MIL to help me make fried rice because I couldn't get mine to look and taste like hers. I watched and realized the only difference between my fried rice and hers was that I was not my MIL. I swear, everything else was the same, but her fried rice was still better. We were talking about this the other day and it morphed into my MIL volunteering to make dinner for Emma's family birthday party. She will buy everything, bring it to my house, and cook it in front of me and maybe, one day, I'll be able to make a stir fried beef I wouldn't be embarrassed to serve to guests. 

I was asking Jack what the other kids at school eat for lunch, trying to get a run down of how many eat hot lunch and how many bring lunch from home. But what he told me is, "Aika brings seaweed!" Now HE wants to bring seaweed for lunch. I looked in the freezer where we used to have a big packet of nori, but Phillip had eaten it. 

As far as I can tell, there are only two white kids in Jack's class of eighteen. (I think two or three more are half, like Jack.) This is fascinating to me. Sometimes I catch myself noticing diversity "too much". Like maybe I shouldn't be so AWARE of the differences, and all the different languages I hear in the hallway at kindergarten pick up, all the different clothing - today I saw an honest to God burqa. If I were a truly enlightened and liberal individual I wouldn't notice at all and I certainly wouldn't make NOTE of it on my BLOG. 

Except I sort of think that's a load of you know what. I think it's good to notice differences, and maybe it's the flaming Seattle in me, but I'm happy Jack is around so many kids who aren't like him. I'm as happy about this as I am about the fact that we are friends with so many white/Asian families and he's always around kids like him. 

No one on either side of the family took issue with me (white) marrying Phillip (Chinese). It's never been the slightest thing. But there are so many differences, and so many ways that Phillip and I have become accustomed to the other side that it catches us off guard when our own family doesn't 'get' something. Like Phillip and I made salmon with an Asian marinade for dinner at my parents' house this weekend, and my mother was wondering what to serve with it and I said, "Rice", like, "Duh" and my mom was all, "RICE! OH!" 

Some of my friends' half kids are starting to notice that they are Half Something and Half Something Else and other kids are Not. It's not an ISSUE, just something they're starting to SEE. Jack hasn't said anything yet. He still talks a lot about Chinese "things" - he and Molly will both announce that something is Chinese (cars, food, hairstyles, I think anything they associate with their grandparents). Sometimes they will pretend to speak Chinese. They know that Daddy is Chinese. That's about it, though. I wonder if kindergarten, or just being in school from 8:45 to 3 every day, will change that. 

Hmm. This appears to be one of those blog posts where I have no point and nothing to say, and yet I persist in writing. I think I will go eat more.

 

 

Comments

Christina

I definitely notice the diversity (or lack) in my kids' classes. And I'm feeling kind of awful because when we were in NoVA about 1/4 of Z's class was Asian and now suddenly the neighborhood school seems very very white. I swear, I really tried to find a diverse school here. But I kinda' failed. But so far, he hasn't said a word about it one way or another.

Elsha

I notice the super-non-diversity around here. Western Colorado is not diverse.

On another note, do you think if we move to Seattle, your MIL would teach me to cook chinese food?

lindsay

You gave me leftover rice when I was at your house years ago and it was yummy! I have no idea who made it though, you or your MIL. (So you can take credit)

Erin Marie

What's the POINT of differences if they're not noticed?

Carrie

I have nothing to say except yes! I agree! Being the parent of a mixed race kid is confusing and fabulous and my kids still never get it right when we ask them who is chinese. And I'm very grateful that you're going through this with me.

HereWeGoAJen

The place that I noticed diversity the most was in Idaho where there was none. (Not kidding at all, where we lived in Idaho was literally 99% white.) So you'd see someone who wasn't white and everyone would look. It was like "A DIFFERENCE!" Here I don't really notice as much, I think, just because there is more of it.

Can you get her to do a fried rice instructional blog? My fried rice SUCKS.

Lisa

As the parent of a mixed-race kid, I wish there were more diversity in this area. Olivia doesn't SEE herself as different. She sees differences, like her hair or her brother's skin, but she doesn't think that makes her different. If that makes sense. She is used to some diversity among our friends, but her school is, unfortunately, a sea of white faces. As a private Catholic school, I think this will affect her less than if she were going to public school here, though. In rural Southern Indiana, there is no telling what kind of backwoods predjudice she might face at the local public school.

Very Bloggy Beth

I know what you mean about being so AWARE of the differences. We are raising our kids in San Francisco, in stark contrast to my rural northern Wisconsin upbringing, and I love diversity, I thrive on it, it's part of the reason we chose to move West to begin with. And I really like watching my son grow up with different cultures all around him, but then I wonder if he's noticing the differences between him and other kids. Is he really growing up blind to all of it, like in my dreams, or will he still see other people as "different"?

Reading (and chickens)

My kids know intellectually that they are half Indian and half white, but not really. I think it makes my sensitive boy, Keshi, feel out of sorts. He said once, "You're Indian, Dad is white, but what am I?" (but less succinctly). It broke my heart a little, until his little brother said, "You're like me." So, there's that. Thank God for the wisdom of four-year-olds.

Redbecca

If you haven't read it yet, be sure to check out the book "NutureShock" that has a chapter about talking to kids about differences in race, color, etc. Research into talking about it versus not talking about has revealed some VERY interesting stuff and some "Ohhhh riiiight" moments, at least for me (we're not a mixed race family unless you count Irish and Italian as different races, which I suspect my MIL does ha ha).

Crystal

I let my MIL cook whenever she wants. Less work for me and my husband is guaranteed to eat it. It usually tastes better than my food, too, although I think food generally tastes better when someone else (with skills) has made it.

katie

Whenever I attempt to follow my MIL's Chinese recipes I utterly fail - EVERY SINGLE TIME. Its soo disheartening... Best to let her do the cooking and the rest of us do the eating - yum!

jenney

Being part Chinese is so much a part of my kids. Their school is very diverse with mixed kids of every hue. There is a new half Chinese kid in their group. At first they were so excited that they asked her "you are half Chinese like us?" they proceeded to tell her about our recent trip to Asia. The little girl just looked at them "I am not Chinese! I am American." M looked at her and said "well duh! But you are still Chinese too". This was the topic of discussion in the car for a few days "why doesn't she want to be Chinese?" "Chinese people have better food" "Her mom is chinese? She looks like me" "I bet they don't have a rice cooker" They were totally perplexed that this girl wasn't totally psyched that she is half Chinese because it is so much a part of their own identity.

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