When my crazy wife and I had our first daughter, it was a challenge – she was born in one country with parents of 2 different other nationalities. The same with our second daughter. Then, throw in the fact that we are all living in a completely different country altogether, I’ve started to wonder how my kids were going to decide where they were actually from.
It all sounds great and glamorous to live and work in other countries. It all sounds so interesting. But, as the kids get older, I start considering how my girls are going to truly know where their roots are.
I’m Egyptian. My wife is American. Our daughters are both. Our daughters were born in Qatar and we all now live in Dubai. And the thing is, neither of them have ever lived where their passports say they are ‘from’.
The cool thing, is they are around so many different cultures and nationalities and languages each and every day that I don’t think it’s yet to occur to them they are suppose to be ‘from wherever their passports say they are from’. When my daughter went to Germany with my wife for a wedding a couple of weeks ago, she came back and said “Baba, they don’t speak English or Arabic and they only speak Germany” (yes, she said they speak ‘Germany’). She told me that I wouldn’t know what they were saying. I started to laugh and she took it so seriously and said “Baba, this isn’t funny. They were different.” We talked about it being a different country. But all she has ever known were countries we visited together in the region or when we spent time in Egypt and the US on holiday.
I told her that it was so great for her to meet new people. We talked about what they were like. Did they look like us? Did they laugh like us? Did they drive cars like us? She said yes. I asked her if she was scared or worried. She said no and when ‘Momma lost me the people were nice and helped me’ (again, later on that one in a different post). So, we agreed that they were like us. They just lived in a different place and spoke a different language but they were just like us – some good and some bad and always knowing the times that we need to appreciate the opportunities we have to meet new people.
I didn’t travel anywhere until I was 25 and it was still to a country in the same region and speaking the same language. My wife didn’t start really travelling until the same age and even then it was in a protective bubble of work and everyone spoke english.
My girls have been able to make friends with people of every religion and nationality you could think of. And, as much bureaucracy that can go with having kids in this part of the world and having different passports, it’s still a great place to live. They don’t have to worry about what us adults end up growing into which is differentiating between colour, class, nationality and everything else. Kids, they don’t care. They just want friends and to have fun. They don’t care about your job, where you live, what car you drive or what your salary is. They just get to enjoy being around friends and seeing things they have never seen before.
So, I still don’t quite know what to tell them or how to approach ‘where their roots are’ because they have been growing up in different countries and identified on paper with countries they never lived in. Is that going to be a bad thing? Are we going to be paying for years of therapy because they can’t figure out if they have a ‘home’?
Or, are they going to still be happy that when they have ‘National Day’ they get to March around with an American T-Shirt, an Egyptian Flag held high, a Qatar flag patched on one shoulder and a UAE flag patched on the other? When asked where they are ‘from’ will they still say whatever they feel like saying that day (I’m American or i’m Egyptian) – my daughter has fun confusing the teachers with that one on a regular basis causing them to run urgently back to her file to see where she is actually ‘from’.
My daughters are Children of the World – they are a bit of everywhere.
I guess for now we will just save the money for therapy (the banks have investment funds for those, too, right?).
23 October, 2015