Monday, April 13, 2009

one week-end

I've had the loveliest weekend in a long time. First of all, my maple address file boxes arrived and they are just beautiful, every one of them! So on Friday with Adelaide away happily - perhaps a little too happily - with her grandma and grandpa for the day, I was able to put my first batch of address files together. It felt so strange yet wonderful and familiar to be able to do this again. I haven't forgotten and my fingers can still fly! I have also found that now that I'm a mama I have even more love and care to put into my work. It feels like my heart is even bigger when it comes to everything in life now. And this is very good.
candy jars by you.
Whenever I am out and about I always keep a look out for storage solutions - because in my experience, you can never have enough storage solutions. I found these two big vintage candy jars at a Thrift shop and had to bring them home with me. Their bright red lids are so happy to me and I am now using them to store all of my +30 card packs, which I made dozens and dozens of up as well so they would all be ready to go to their new homes. It is my hope that they soon be filled with the names and details of people who are loved.
I grew up not celebrating celebrations such as Birthdays, Halloween, or Christmas, and so now it is important to me for Adelaide to have childhood joys in such events. A few of my wonderful neighbours and I planned an easter brunch and egg hunt for Sunday. Of course, it poured rain all day like never before, but it suprisingly ended up being so lovely to head with our brightly coloured children into the quiet damp still of the forest and find treasures all together. This is one of the only photos I took, for it was so wet I was actually frightened for my camera! But to me it somehow captures a certain happiness that we felt all together in the forest on this wet day.
forest hunt by you.
I love my camera (a Nikon D50) but I don't make a habit of bringing it along everywhere. However, I really wish that I did the other day as we took Addie for her very first Dim Sum! It was so much fun - she loved it! Despite me being not a huge fan of Dim Sum - I eat mostly vegetarian, and I also unfortunately find that a lot of Dim Sum doesn't sit well in my belly - I can't wait to take her again. 

I really want to involve more Chinese culture into Adelaide's world, but being a white girl it feels a little - contrived on my part. I'm not completely ignorant, for I grew up in Vancouver and it has a huge Asian population which has very much influenced what this city has and will become. We have a lot of Asian friends and neighbours, and Addie has many little Chinese friends and even more little bi-racial friends around our neighbourhood to spend time with. However, Adelaide's dad Charles is really laid back, and he's not the type to plan out cultural events or drag his daughter to Chinese School (he despised and loathed it). Charles also works a lot and so Addie spends the majority of her time with just plain old me. Her yehyeh and mahmah live far away so she won't really be able to learn from them either. I just hope that Addie doesn't grow up and feel alienated from such a big part of her heritage. 

Do you have any experience for such a matter? Did you grow up the child of Caucasian and Asian parents? Do you have children who are part Asian too? Do you have any thoughts on what else can I do - besides reading books like Yum Yum Dim Sum to her, and taking her Aberdeen and to yummy restaurants like Peaceful Noodle every so often? Are you aware of any Cantonese speaking programs for little children in the Vancouver area? Or do you know of anyother Chinese-type storybooks to recommend? Any thoughts or suggestions you have I would greatly appreciate.

sweet adelaide by you.

44 comments:

kbaylon said...

Definitely encourage her to attend Chinese school, when she's old enough. My mom's Chinese and was laid back as well so she didn't drag us but now to think about it, I wish she had. I'm still very in touch with my Chinese culture but not being able to speak Chinese bums me out... Great blog by the way, I've been following for quite sometime, and your daughter is just adorable.

jennifer said...

Hi Sharilyn,

Have you looked into your local library? Mine actually has Story Times in Chinese and Japanese! :)I also read the Yum Yum Dim Sum book to my daughter and she loves it! Good luck! Oh, and your address files look beautiful!

Julie said...

I think that's a great idea. My parents never really pushed the Vietnamese culture with me or my brother growing up. They used to when we were really little but as we grew up, it sort of phased out.

She'll definitely thank you for it when she's older :)

the 6 o'clock stitch said...

Your Adelaide is just a doll.

Those maple address boxes are beautiful!

katiet said...

YAY! I wonder if the "Katie" file at the front is the one for me? :)

Glad you had a great Easter :)

katie t. said...

Also, one of the little girls I work with is adopted from China. Her mother, who is also white, has enrolled her in Saturday morning mandarin classes and she just adores them! If they offer them in Victoria, I'm sure they have similar on the mainland...

a print a day said...

both my parents are mixed (chinese-spanish/filipino + syrian-indian), and both never pushed the importance of heritage and knowing your roots and such. i grew up in the philippines and the usa, but never really dove in the cultural aspects if my heritage. now that i'm an adult, i feel like i'm scrambling to reconnect. personally i think it's important to reconnect or know your roots. it helps you a lot when you're a grow up.

shelese said...

My 10 month old daughter Addisen has some Japanese heritage. I am so sad that her family didn't pass down the language! I hope that you take the opportunity for your cute Addie to learn about her culture. I am so jealous that you live in Vancouver, and have access to good Dim Sum to share with her! I live in Utah, which possibly has the worst Asian food in the States. Love your blog!

mardotti zaaba said...

hi sharilyn. i do not know much about cultivating multiculturalism, but if Adelaide can learn Chinese language,it would benefit her real lot. I did some research on cognitive effects of bilingualism the other day, and turns out bilingual child is more creative, have more flexible mind and etc than their monolingual counterparts.

And it's just wonderful everytime you share stories like this.i told a friend about your blog and she couldnt get enough of all your inspiring entries!

Ambi said...

Hi Sharilyn,
I'm coming out of lurk-mode to let you know how much I enjoy your blog! My 4 yr old son is half Chinese and half Korean. His paternal grandparents (his yehyeh and nyinnyin) speak a Cantonese dialect, Toysan, and I wanted to find classes so he could communicate with them whenever we visited them. But his grandparents urged me to put him in Mandarin classes because it's the "future" Chinese. Fortunately, I was able to find a language institute (not Chinese school!) that taught Mandarin through play.

I was also able to get kid posters of Chinese and Korean characters and posted them in his room. I don't sit him down and go over the characters.. but I've been pleasantly surprised when he comes to me to ask about the pictures/characters.

Oh, and I also got him learning chopsticks (I got them at my local Korean market but you can get them here: http://www.veryasia.com/260343.html) and he's enjoyed eating Asian foods with them and has even taken them to restaurants when we go out for dim sum!

Dawn said...

I am half korean. I grew up mostly in the States, but most of my childhood was filled with Korean culture thanks to my mother. Luckily, being only half, I learned to speak, read and write Korean. Growing up with a white person's face was the hardest part because I felt I never really fit in anywhere, but that is something you grow used to as you get older. You probably already know this, but if you're going to teach your Adelaide, teach her while she is still young. She will have a greater appreciation for it as she grows up. I'm glad that you're concerned with making sure she knows her asian roots. I can say that I am super lucky and glad that my parents did.

Amelia L. said...

I'm 100% Chinese and grew up with divorced parents with two completely different points of view. Although I learned Cantonese & English through just listening to friends and family, my dad totally wanted me to go to Mandarin school and tried forcing it on me. However, I was at an age where I heard from my older cousins that it was horrible so I whined until I didn't have to go to even one class. My mom on the other hand asked me once, I said no and was totally fine with it.

I can't say I regret not having to go, but it would be nice to be able to communicate with my grandparents a little more than my limited Cantonese vocabulary (ideally if there was a Cantonese school or whatever I would have been all for it).

Since she's so young, I personally think you should try finding a Mandarin/Cantonese school for her to try out since she'll probably be totally into it at this age. Then when she gets older you could always ask her if she wants to continue or not. Most likely she'll love it later on if you start her ASAP before she can get stubborn and say no haha.

Hopefully that helped and wasn't too confusing. Good luck, she's adorable.

Also, I so wish I had the extra money to buy one of your address files, they are absolutely beautiful.

Jo said...

I'm 100% Chinese, but I grew up in an area that was very Caucasian, and went to Chinese school ... and hated being inside in a depressing building on beautiful weekend afternoons.

I'd say that if she is already surrounded by playmates that are Asian/biracial, don't bother sending her to Chinese school -- it's more of a place to socialize and not a place to learn (I don't think I added that much to my base skills there, and the kids who started off not knowing much were at a distinct disadvantage.) If you want her to have language skills, it's incredibly hard to learn a language on a weekly basis like that, without close relatives to practice with.

Do try to incorporate everyday things into her routine so that she'll feel like the culture is a part of her.

For example, have a sit-down Chinese meal the Chinese way at home, regularly. Read some Chinese folktales/myths/proverbs to her -- stuff every kid should know, like the monkey king. Celebrate holidays (eat mooncakes on mid-autumn festival, make and eat zhongzi during the dragon boat festival, make and eat huge dinner on new year's eve). Apart from language, I feel like food is a big part of my tie to the culture, having moved here as a young child.

Other possible activities: watching Chinese kids shows/movies together, taking dance/calligraphy/etc when she's older.

If you can manage it, going to live in China/Taiwan/Singapore for a month with the relatives every once in a while will do wonders.

Breezy Babies said...

I am not chinese but I grew up with out ever learning to speak Spanish even though my father spoke it fluently. I wish now that I had learned it at an early age but my sister and I were only spoken to in english. I think it is a great skill to know more than one language and the best time to learn is in childhood! Its great that you are thinking about this now. I can't wait for my turn for an address file!

Jenifir said...

Your boxes are beautiful. Your dauIghter looks absolutely charming. I am white and so our my children but my husband was born in Kenya to white, Canadian parents. My children really enjoy that part of our family's story. We also have a lot of Irish heritage which captures their imagination. My Mum had to learn gaelic in school and our children learn french. My daughter took an after school Mandarin class a few years ago which she especially enjoyed because of the Chinese exchange students in her school and class. I have a flute student who is now in university and had to promise to keep going to Chinese school for her parents to pay for her music lessons. After visiting China, she really appreciates sticking with the classes. It would also be good if Adelaide's Dad could speak to her in Cantonese. It is great to see the care with which you parent.

being red said...

definitely encourage another language...i am bi-lingual spanish and it's helped me in so many scenarios. chinese will be an asset to her when she grows older!

Frivolous Diane said...

I was one of the only bi-racial kids in a very rural community. My dad is Caucasian and my mom is Korean. Other than like 1 other bi-racial Asian family (that I was related to) and a handful of Hispanic families, my entire town was white. Very white. However, unlike Addie, I do not look Asian at all. I just look like a brunette Caucasian girl who tans really well. This sometimes made me feel like I wasn't really Korean at all - since I didn't look the part. But it certainly doesn't bother me at all now.

My mom never pushed the language thing as she immigrated to the U.S at 22 and really wanted to embrace the culture. Whenever people would ask her "What are you?" (Yeah, people say that. Not "Where are you from originally?" or something else less obtuse) she would say "American." She was always really firm about that, and so she never spoke Korean to me at home. She wanted me to be American too - exactly what she was so proud to be. Actually, we kind of learned English together as I was born when she had only been in the U.S. for a year.

She began to regret her decision when I was in 3rd grade or so, but I just couldn't get it. Korean is fairly tonal and my aural skills have never been great - I just had a really hard time picking it up. Although, looking back, I think a lot of it had to do with the curriculum we were working with. Something more immersion based like Rosetta Stone might have worked better. I do wish that we would have stuck with it though (or started earlier), and I think that Addie will grow to appreciate it as well. Maybe not until she is much older, but she will appreciate it just the same.

Anyway, it's kind of weird not being able to have a conversation with my maternal grandmother and some of my other relatives who only speak Korean, but I feel like I'm able to appreciate the culture through food and other events. And going to Korea several times throughout my childhood (and for one whole summer after my senior year in high school) certainly helped me to appreciate my roots even though I don't have a firm grasp on the language. And communicating through hugs and kisses on the cheek is kind of nice too.

Anonymous said...

I'm half caucasian (mother), half asian (father), middle class family, grew up in my mother's home country with very little interaction with my Asian background besides vacation trips. Laid back father too.

I know what is pure racism, since I blend into the fisionomy of a caucasion perfectly, not exactly like your child. You know she will feel it at some point and if she is shy like me, she will not talk about it with you even if you are a very present mother.

As a child I rejected the few attempts to learn my father's foreign language but accepted English as a second language. Which is not the official language in my mother's country. Weird.

My point with this message is everyone has something different from others. What we all want and expect is to feel loved from those who are supposed to love you.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Dear Sharilyn,

This post made me to remember about your mom v.s. work dilemma when Miss A. was baby, you then shared with us and I am very glad about you that eventually you have found the perfect balance and both side of you are actually supporting to the other side now.

I am sure it will also be the perfect solution you will be finding for her bi-cultural life balance.

As always, thank you for sharing!

*Gül

Megan said...

Sharilyn,
The files look great! Congrats to you on plugging forward and making magic!!!

wormsinabox said...

Definitely teach her Chinese. Every single Asian American I know who grew up being taught the language (even if they resented it at the time) is so glad they know it, while those of us who weren't really regret it. One thought: I was forced to go to Mandarin school as a kid (we spoke Cantonese at home) and HATED it, while my cousin attended Mandarin school with his Dad. Both of them spoke Cantonese at home but they decided to learn Mandarin together from scratch and it became a family bonding thing. Also I think the kids felt less resentful about going to school because their Dad was going too!

Sandy said...

I can definitely relate to your wanting your child to learn more about the Chinese culture. I have two small children, half French, and I have been trying my best to incorporate Chinese traditions into their lives. At the moment it’s hard. If I lived back in San Francisco where I grew up and have family, no problem, but now I live in a mostly white suburb outside of the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area. Consequently, we are mostly out of touch with the Chinese community. I’m like you. We try to go and eat dim sum as much as we can. We go to the Chinese New Year parade every year. We read books. Basically, that’s all my children know at the moment.

If your daughter has the opportunity to go to Chinese school, I would consider it. It can be quite rigorous, which may be why your husband hated it? I was a Chinese school drop out myself. I’ve regretted it all my life, as I am not fluent in the Cantonese or Mandarin as I wish I could be. However, Chinese school offers more than language classes, but it offers cultural opportunities.

This is a valuable resource: Asia for Kids (http://www.afk.com). I get the catalog and I am always amazed at all the wealth of things in it from language books to videos to toys. This may be what you are looking for. I hope I’ve helped!

kiku said...

Hi,
My hubby is first generation Japanese and I'm American. For me the culture is fascinating because it is something different than what I grew up with. But to him he sees it as 'just the way I grew up, just like you grew up here'. So I know what you mean by feeling contrived. *sigh* He's not a big planner either so I pester him for stories and things he did growing up that he loved and plan a few activities with his input. I'd like to live in Japan for a year or two with the kids at some point. I don't think it could get much better than that!
In the meantime-- Asia for Kids is a great resource. They have lots! Especially bilingual books. And there is a dvd language program for young kids called Muzzy (just google Muzzy Chinese). I'm guessing where you live probably has a large Chinese community too so just keep tabs on those happenings and get involved with a group or two. All of that will help.
As an alternative to Chinese school you may also want to look into charter schools that are bilingual/immersion with a Chinese emphasis. There may be one close to you. And when school age approaches it may be an option that fits for your family. They are free but usually have requirements (where you live, volunteer hours, etc). Good luck with all your endeavors!

Chandra said...

As a writer in process of publication, you asked a question I can actually answer! As far as books on Chinese culture go for little ones try these:

I Love You Like Crazy Cakes, by Rose A. Lewis (beautiful watercolors about a little tiny Chinese orphan who becomes adopted. Still, a classic!)

The Story about Ping, by Marjorie Flack

Satomi Ichikawa, an excellent Japanese illustrator and author of different cultural books for children!

Panda Bear, Panda Bear What Do you See? by Eric Carle. Not a traditional Chinese story, but still great endangered animals and pictures.

For your own reading pleasure try: The Lost Daughters of China by Karin Evans.

Happy Reading!

Anonymous said...

There is a wonderful children's book called "How My Parents Learned To Eat" by Ina R. Friedman.An American boy courts a Japanese girl and each tries to learn the other's way of eating. My cousin adopted a Chinese baby and every year (she is now 13) her Chinese birthday is celebrated.

TrippleJN said...

This will not have to do with Chinese, but I'd like to share.

First, I'm sure that whatever you choose to include in Addie's life will be of benefit if you do it with love.

Second, my daughter often surprises me with her seemingly innate interests and beliefs. I do my best to nurture them, even if they are completely different than mine. It is very hard to know what and how much we "should" be teaching our children, but if we pay very close attention, they tell us what and how much they want to learn. I am not religious but somehow my daughter talks about God and adores going to church with my parents. For me to teach her about Christianity does seem, as you put it, contrived. But when she seems to need information, I do my best to provide a complete picture, and let her know that whatever she chooses to believe will be up to her and very much supported by her father and me.

I hope this helps in some small way.

Jenny

Helen said...

Hi!

my daughter is half-korean and half-chinese and we are lucky that she has both grandmothers to teach her both cultures/languages, although they are laid back about it as well.

She likes to watch Ni Hao, Kai-lan which presents some traditional Chinese events and celebrations in a way that interests her and also allows me to use them as a starting point for my own research and activity at home.

Good luck~ being part of a multicultural home is so much fun.

ali said...

my daughter, ella, is a quarter japanese - i am scottish with family in italy, my husband is half japanese, half canadian - and ella was born in california, so she is truly multi-cultural :) jeff is third generation japanese, his great grandmother came to canada as a bride after losing her family in japan. she remarried and her 'new' family was later interned during the war...it is such a beautiful, moving story {there is a film about it obaachan’s garden and their family home has been transformed into a heritage site in steveston} that i feel so lucky to have as a part of my life and now, ella's life. the language has been lost and slowly certain cultural elements are fading away, too. although jeff and i can't teach ella japanese, we try our very best to nurture her in every other way possible...we take her out to yummy japanese restaurants, we read japanese stories translated into english, we make paper cranes and celebrate the cherry blossom festival, we explore the asian supermarket, we wear our kimonos and play with wooden sushi, we even have our own special tea ceremony and maybe someday we'll all go to japanese school together :) at first it felt a little contrived for me, too, but i *love* to see her learn about the world so much that now i put these feelings aside and embrace it with an open heart. she *loves* dim-sum, sushi, vietnamese and korean food just as much as we do :) most of all, though, we just have lots of fun together. here is a list of japanese books that we bought from the japanese american museum in los angeles - perhaps these publishers will also have books about chinese culture as well? we try not to buy a whole lot of plastic toys, but this dim sum play set might be fun {we have the sushi one and ella loves it}.
good luck and have lots of fun with that sweet little girl of yours! :)

Anonymous said...

That's great that you are considering this for your daughter.

As a half caucasian, half Asian American Pacific Islander, I grew up around others who were of mixed race like myself, so in childhood I didn't know anything different.

As I grew older though, we moved to areas that comprised primarily of caucasians. That is when things grew difficult. Mostly, I think b/c my mother needed support systems around her who understood her culture. I was happiest, of course, when she felt most at home to be herself.

When I entered college, I more actively pursued my mother's culture b/c at this time in life is when we seek to understand who we are. I remember seeing a visiting group that performed folk songs and dances in traditional costume, and I started to tear up b/c it was so beautiful and I also felt connected to an area of myself that I was lost to.

What has helped the most is a recent trip with my mom and husband to visit my parents old friends and some family who are of my mother's culture. It wasn't me being taught in classes, it was the culture live and in person.

The main importance of learning of one's culture is identity. Adalaide might know that she's different some day, but not understand why. Traits such as being passive, or feeling shame that others around do not feel as easily might be more understood if she realizes that they are indicative of her culture.

Since you are her primary caregiver most of the time, she might take after your cultural reactions to life and process things emotional as you do, but her father will also have a profound affect on who she is and how she views the world.

Since you are interested in helping her learn, and her father is not pushing the culture on her, then it's safe to say she might take interest on her own. My mother, even if she wanted to teach me, was not necessarily familiar with her own culture, so actively teaching me was not something she felt comfortable doing. This could be the same for her father. A little prompting might help, or maybe a mailing relationship with her paternal grandparents would foster that desire. But this would probably have to be initiated by you.

I love the Chinese culture. It's so old and rich with history. I took a Cantonese class in college that used the pinyin system to help translate from English to Chinese easier than rote memorization of characters. She is at a good age to learn, even if she learns simple phrases and sounds. You might start with letting her listen to a cd or something and see if there could be shared phrases or words between she and her father or grandparents as a way of connecting. Languages are retained when used frequently, so while classes might not adhere unless you are taking them, also, a few phrases spoken often might.

Make it a fun adventure together.

Stephanie said...

Aloha, Sharilyn!

My husband, Ken, is half Caucasian, half Asian (his father is from Arkansas, his mother is from Tokyo). Both his parents speak the other's native language, but as a small child, they spoke to Ken primarily in English because they knew he was going to be educated in the U.S. But whenever the family visited Japan, they would of course use Japanese. I think Ken's exposure to Japanese (the language and culture) as a child has made it possible for him to communicate in Japanese almost instinctively as an adult; he has not only an easier time picking up the language, but also his accent and body language are very good and natural, which are things you cannot really teach in school.

Based on my husband's experiences, I would say that if you would like your daughter to develop a natural "feel" for Chinese language and culture, the best thing to do would be to expose her to both as a small child. If you can manage it, take her to a Chinese-speaking country for an extended period; watch Chinese-language movies*; read English translations of Chinese fairy tales; take her to Chinatown often and celebrate the Moon Festival, Chinese New Year's, etc. And above all, eat Chinese food! As in most cultures, but I think especially Asian ones, food is an important link that ties together the seasons, traditions, and family. Creating these kinds of associations will have a lasting impression on Addie, I'm sure.

My apologies for posting such a lengthy comment. Also, thank you, Sharilyn, for sharing your life as well as your creations with all of us!

*Unfortunately I can't think of any Chinese children's films; there are many more books and movies in Japanese that would be good (the Miyazaki anime for instance). The only Chinese DVDs I can think of that she might be able to watch are The King of Masks or possibly The Road Home.

Anonymous said...

Oops, it was a Mandarin class, not Cantonese. :)

Tashia said...

I am half Thai and half American. Our family has lived both abroad and within the states. Unfortunately, the limited Thai I learned was only through my mom as it seems almost impossible to find Thai language classes. Even now at 27, I have a desire to learn Thai. In high-school and college I pursued Mandarin, and I've got to break it to you, I think Mandarin is excruciatingly difficult regardless of your age. What your daughter has on her side is a child's incredible aptitude to pick up languages. In my opinion, mixed or not, children could only benefit from learning this at a young age. Being American, I especially feel discontented with my fellow Americans' seemingly utter lack of desire to have a more global outlook.

I'm not a parent, but I know that the older she gets, the busier her life will become. And I agree with previous posts; I have and probably always will continue to self-reflect and contemplate my identity as a biracial woman. I don't always feel like I fit in, but most times that's a good thing. Why try to fit in, when you can stand out?

I'm also a graphic designer and huge fan of your blog. I can only hope that my future will develop into a beautiful, warm, honest and happy family like yours.

Tashia

Molly said...

so many great suggestions! my daughter (who is not of asian descent) asked me today if we could redecorate the playhouse to make it chinese. "can we paint the walls red mom? and make some dragon things for the walls?" two books we love are "ruby's wish" (makes me cry every time) and "suko's kimono". also love the rosemary wells character soko. when your daughter gets a little older and enjoys chapter books, "ruby lu, brave and true" is excellent (my favorite thing about the book is that the dad knits).

i'm curious about your background re: holidays. i didn't celebrate holidays growing up either, but i find as an adult that it's still hard to embrace these traditions. makes me wonder what my kids will do when they grow up.

Anonymous said...

my favorite publisher of multi-culti children's books is Lee and Low Books. they really support writers of color too (not only white authors writing about asians kids).

shisomama said...

I was born in Taiwan, but raised in California, and my kids are half Chinese, half American. Most of my family lives in Asia, but I'm pretty American myself (I don't read Chinese and my spoken language is pretty basic). It was important to me that my kids have some Chinese language and culture, because otherwise, they wouldn't be able to relate to or communicate with my side of the family as well. My son spoke better Chinese than English for the first 3 years of his life. Now, though, with school being such a big part of his life, and his ability to express so much more in English, it's become really hard for me to keep up the language, particularly since I've about reached the limits of my ability. For us, though, visits from my family are frequent, and we go to Taiwan once a year, and that'll help us keep in touch.

I think if you're interested, then it might be good for you to do cultural activities together. You might feel a little like an outsider at times, but I think it will help foster Adelaide's interest if you, as the primary caregiver, do it with her. You will be learning together. Language classes may be good, but I don't know that she'll ever be fluent that way, especially if a parent is not at home working hard to encourage bilingualism. So I don't know that the language classes will necessarily make her feel any more Chinese, if you know what I mean.

I think celebrating holidays are a great start, and food is another easy thing. Maybe there are also Chinese play groups that you can join? I think it can be very positive to have regularly scheduled dates with kids (and parents) who are in a similar situation. It's such a great thing that you're thinking about this for her. Hope it doesn't stress you out too much. Good luck and have fun!

PS - we have 2 DVDs at home which teach Chinese to kids. If you think you'd be interested, I'd be happy to send them to you since we never watch them. She's the right age for them.

said...

just wanted to second all the comments about learning the language. I didn't and regret it very much.
I think knowing the language of your family gives you a sense of belonging and access to many other aspects of the culture.

glenn said...

Hi,

I'm white and my husband is Chinese. We have two boys and it's really important to me that they embrace their Chinese culture and ethnicity. My husband grew up in a laid back family and they are not traditional by any means.

Like you, we live in a very diverse area with a lot of Asian neighbors, so I feel I'm one step ahead of the game just by being in a diverse place.

Other ideas: library story time, Grace Lin books (they are great!), I'm always looking for new books that feature Chinese heritage but I personally don't like the fairy tale/eastern religious ones, lots of Chinese food, teaching my kids to make Chinese food (won ton wraps are fun for kids, easy to do veggie), dim sum, Chinese counting games, etc.

As for the Chinese language part, I'm no help there. I've taught my boys Spanish! Ha, ha!!

My sister in law lives in East Van and there are a ton of opportunities for kids there. Local churches are a great resource, too.

Emmy said...

I'm half Japanese, and feel like I have a pretty good sense of who I am. My father is Japanese, but raised in the US. I've grown up celebrating Japanese New Year, eating out at the best traditional Japanese restaurants, appreciating Japanese stories and art, and spending time with my Japanese relatives. I don't speak Japanese, and of course wish that I could, but feel like my parents just did what they could to keep us happy and grounded kids. I sometimes get caught up thinking "how Asian am I and do I need to be more," but really I'm just as much the other half. I think as long as you love and take care of your child or children, which you obviously do, they will grow up happy with a good sense of self. Best of luck to you. What a sweet relationship you seem to have together as a family.

le petit fromage said...

I am a serious blog lurker but felt I had to comment on this post.

My father is Chinese and my mother Caucasian. I was born and raised in Australia and had a very Western upbringing. I think my situation is like your little Adelaide's. I believe my mother was very keen on including Chinese culture into our upbringing (she even tried to learn the language herself) but my father worked very long hours and thus my siblings and I spent most of our time with our mother. Also, my father was very laid back about it and didn't want to enforce anything on us.

We were sent to Chinese language school but sought a way out after a very short period of time. The reason for this is that all our classmates were children who already spoke the language and were trying to learn the reading and writing part. We felt so inadequate and my parents didn't push the issue. Now as adults we are all regretful of the decision we made as children to not pursue it. My sister is attempting to learn the language as an adult.

I now have two young children and wish I could pass the language onto them but make do with reading them Chinese stories and taking them to yum cha regularly. I am considering signing them up for Chinese lessons. It is funny, now that I have children my father is very keen to pursue the more traditional customs with them that I never did as a child so I hope some of this stays with them.

In all of this I guess I am saying that I now wish that I had been more educated on my father's culture and traditions as a child, however as a child I had very little interest in doing so. I think if you start with Adelaide now she is young enough to be interested and it will be a part of her nature rather than drudgery or a chore.

Jessa said...

I am also a caucasian woman married to a chinese man and we now have a daughter, Penelope. My mother-in-law was living with us and spoke solely Mandarin to P, which I think was great. We had some of our Taiwanese aunties bring us some DVDs that are in Chinese. I have no idea what they're saying, but I do enjoy listening to them and letting P watch them.

Becca said...

I am an english woman married to a japanese man and we have a 2 and a half yr old daughter named Kai. We lived in Japan up until 10 mths ago so she had her babyhood there. My husband is pretty laid-back about pushing Japanese stuff but we do lots of things the japanese way-our house looks quite japanesey (internally-with tatami mats and low table), we eat lots of japanese food..we have lots of japanese story books, we speak mainly japanese at home..we also found a local japanese toddler group. we're planning to homeschool but kai will probably go to a once a week japanese saturday school. we also plan to spend at least 6 weeks every year in japan. i think it's really important for her to feel in touch with her roots. Can you speak mandarin? maybe you could learn together?

Anonymous said...

Hi, another Aussie here. I am new to your blog and thus far enjoy what I have read! My father is chinese and my mother caucasian so this post struck a chord. My childhood circumstances weren't exactly the best for fostering a cultural appreciation of my heritage. My father tended to use being chinese as an excuse for imposing severe restrictions and punishments upon us. We moved around a lot and lived in rural and isolated (PNG) locations , sending us to chinese school or having a close relationship with our Asian relatives just didn't happen. Still, we grew up with celebrations and food, later we participated in local chinese community gatherings. My parents are divorced and we "kids" are estranged from our father. Coming to terms with our biracial heritage has been a difficult journey for us. As conflicted as I am in my feelings about my father as an individual, I still have a need to embrace the culture and history of his family. As a young adult I went to work in Singapore where in many ways I felt more cpmfortable. My features are such that I am mistaken for being of many races. I believe that it is important to give your child a connection to her heritage. I can't really understand why all these fathers can be so "laid back" when it comes to parenting their children and passing on tradition and culture, other than to acknowledge that in most families it is the mothers that make tradition come alive. Now I have three daughters (the eldest named China) and their father is a second generation greek Australian . We are now living in the US , and in fact my youngest (twins) are US citizens who have never known any other country (whilst my eldest has lived in 4 countries). At this point we are celebrating everything and eating everything. My eldest identifies very strongly with my chinese heritage (and as I met my husband in Asia he is very keen to maintain this with food, outings and clothing) . It is up to my husband to foster an appreciation of greek culture in our kids but he avoided greek school in his youth! So thus far our "greekness" encompasses olives and lots of lamb, so we have a ways to go. However we are still an english - only speaking family ...and at last I get to my point, my biggest regret is not having a second language be it chinese, malay, thai or french ,spanish whatever. So I add my support to your efforts in giving gorgeous Adelaide a rich sense of self and if at all possible a second language.
cheers

The Paper Thieves said...

Hi,
Your address files are looking awesome! Can't wait to see them.
I saw your post and was reminded of an animated show on Nick Jr. to help kids in the US learn Mandarin, called Ni Hao Kai Lan, that started last year.
Here's the link:
http://www.nickjr.com/shows/ni-hao-kai-lan/kai-lan-about-the-show/ni-hao-kai-lan-about-the-show.jhtml

There's also some great dvd's for kids to learn Chinese that are out on the market as well, that you can find online.

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