Sometimes I worry that my kids will not know where they are from, or worse… who they are. We have lived in a lot of places and I wonder if there will come a point when they stop feeling like Americans. They speak Danish all day long at school and barely have any friends who speak English. Our youngest has only been in the States for six months out of his almost five years of life and our middle son has only been there for two and a half of his eight.
Just the other day my daughter admitted that she thinks to herself in Danish much of the time and is even considering the idea of being an English teacher in Denmark one day.
Our kids play soccer (or football to anyone outside the US) rather than American football and when they crave a treat they don’t think about American goodies, but Danish ones. Their memories are scattered across the world and over several continents, which sounds really cool… but will that bother them one day? Because how do you call yourself an American and have hardly any memories in America?
We have tried so hard to integrate into the cultures we have lived in but for us as adults, there is always a separation… some sort of assurance that you can take these good ‘ol Americans out of the USA, but you can’t take the USA out of these good ‘ol Americans. But what about our kids? They don’t have childhood memories of riding yellow buses to school. They don’t recognize the sound of a home run crack of a baseball against a bat. They have never seen a marching band or the Macy’s Day Parade, and have to be reminded how to count US currency.
Is it possible for our children to lose their national identity and does it really matter if they do?
I grew up as a Greek in the US and even though I never lived in Greece (or even visited until last year!) I didn’t realize that I wasn’t actually Greek until someone asked if I had a Greek passport when I was 21. It was at that point that I was hit with the full realization that I was AMERICAN. I was christened in the Greek church, got yelled at in Greek when I was naughty and celebrated Easter with a lamb over a hot spit, but at the end of the day- I was American.
Personally, I think integrating is a wonderful thing, but there is no harm in keeping our traditions, either. What about you? Are there ways you celebrate your own heritage or family traditions that are a little bit different from the norm in your country of residence… ?
Photography by Tina Fussell for FlyingHouse Studios