I want a self-confident, outgoing, articulate American child. Yep, as a European who has just moved to the Bay Area in the last two years, I am fascinated by some of the differences in culture and temperament of kids around here. They just shine. Okay, for sure, I am based in a pretty educated, middle-class area, so I know kids here are hardly representative of the country as a whole, but they are representative of the kind of kid I want to have. They are sassy, filled with self-esteem and great communicators, it seems to me. I put it down to how they are raised (of course, it is hardly like they are biologically different from British children, for example).
What I see is parents who are super supportive, encouraging and expressive, that are not afraid to praise their kids and are quick to ‘spot them doing something right’. I am inspired by this approach. I find in Europe people are often so intent on proving that they are clever that they don’t realise how nit-picking and negative they can be; they are so intent on being well-mannered that they miss out on the opportunity to express openly how they really feel.
And I am lucky, as somebody who already embodies a mix of cultures and now having lived in three countries (UK, Portugal and the US) plus visited many others, I really can pass on to my kids the best of all worlds (I hope).
From my British side I wish to be able to pass on humility, self-effacing humour and the ability to heartily laugh at one’s own mistakes; I aspire to model a groundedness and connection to the Earth that I learned through my time in Portugal; and from California I am gaining a perspective on embracing who I am, celebrating life and being okay with being positive. I am coming to realise that being happy doesn’t mean I am dumb or don’t know what is going on in the world… it just means I see AND I chose to be happy and contribute wherever and however I can.
I also hope that, wherever we move to in the future, Anya will be able to benefit from all these cultures and, through her dad, from the Chinese culture of her ancestors. How beautiful the genetic tapestry woven into her life and body.