Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day: A Play About Nationality

Who: A mother and two sons
What: Walking home from weekly swim lesson
Where: Walking past a pub in London fully decorated with shamrocks for St. Patrick's Day
When: St. Patrick's Day Eve

Thing Two (age 5): Why is the pub decorated?

Mom: Because tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day. We have to wear green.

Thing One (age 9): Why do we have to wear green?

Mom: Because we're Irish.

Thing One: But we're not Irish, we're American.

Mom: Yes, I see what you mean. We are American. But your great-grandpa was from Ireland, so that makes us part Irish.

Thing Two (quite confused): But we're American, not Irish.

Mom: Yes, it is a little confusing. We're American. But in America, it's also about where you're from before as well as where you live now. So we're American, but your great-great-grandparents were from Ireland, Germany and Poland. So for tomorrow, we're Irish. Your great-grandpa LOVED St. Patrick's Day. He even had a special calendar for it.

Thing One and Thing Two say nothing, mulling over the explanation.

Thing One: I think I'm mostly English, with a little bit of American.

Mom: Well, actually, I know this is confusing. But you're not English at all. Except you were born here. And you live here. And you have an English accent. (She pauses, thinking about what she's saying, as it doesn't seem to make sense. Is he actually English? No, not possible. No English passport. Yet.). You are American (she says with less certainty).

Thing Two: I'm American!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed reading this Maureen. I've had similar conversations with my girls. But even moreso because I'm hoping to do my dissertation on transnational families and cultural identity issues (still waiting for approval from my supervisor). So, if I do get the go ahead and I'm organised enough, would you be willing to take part in a questionnaire survey I'm hoping to conduct as part of my research?