Not too long ago, my family and I were heading back from somewhere well outside our bubble (translation, outside the 5 mile perimeter surrounding our home), and we needed something for dinner. In a stroke of what I thought was sheer genius, I said “Hey, let’s stop at the Chinese Supermarket!” This counts as cultural education for Jax, right? Ethnic pride + something for dinner. Win win.
So off we went. What amazing parents we are.
Nothing informs you of how completely Americanized your Chinese-born child has become more than a trip down the memory lane of his heritage.
“This place smells.”
We decided on a Thai dish. (Thai, Chinese, it’s all the same to us Americans, right?) We found the aisle of curries. And by “curries,” I mean 12,000 packages of all shapes and sizes and languages. Unanticipated problem. While I was staring at the curries hoping for divine intervention from the god of panang dishes, Jax and his dad wandered off to the live fish section. This is what I heard from across five aisles:
Curry problem sort of solved, I found my family and wandered off to the produce section. (Interestingly, the produce section at the Chinese Supermarket houses Mexican candy and pinatas. Welcome to Phoenix.) As I was looking for basil somewhere between the starfruit and bok choy, I heard Jax singing a brand new song. Loudly. To the tune of London Bridge.
“I don’t like this smelly place, smelly place, smelly place…”
We paid and left. Next door was a Chinese gift shop. Jax had a treat coming his way so in we went. We looked at little Buddhas, woven hats, Chinese lanterns and silk shirts.
“Where are the trucks?”
“There are no trucks, kiddo. This is a store of things from China.”
“But all my trucks are made in China.”
And on that note, I decided to call our cultural adventure a complete fail. I envy and admire the parents of internationally-born kids who have seamlessly incorporated their child’s heritage into daily living. We get photos of kids in Chinese garb, and notes about Mandarin lessons and traditional dance class. And I look at these while my Gap kid runs around singing Justin Bieber and drawing pictures of rodeo trucks, and a part of me wonders if I am doing enough.
And the other part of me, the brutally honest part of me, thinks, well, DUH, of course my kid is totally American. His parents are Americans. We live in, you guessed it, America. Should I apologize for that? I think not. I’ve got other things to do…like Jax’s Spanish homework.