Friday, 11 December 2009

too multi-cultural?

I was reading this post on Blogging on Bilingualism and it got my mixed up mind...more mixed up. Or is that thinking?

Today is the first day of Hannukah. I have my menorah sitting in the living room waiting for the first light to be lit. Next to it, there are four dreidels. And all week, of her own volition, Suzanne has been asking me to read a book about Hannukah. I got the candles for my hannukiah after making contact with the Lille synagogue and even considered going to the party tomorrow night, but breastfeeding baby made the decision for me.

Last Sunday, Suzanne and I went to get a Christmas tree which she decorated with her Papa. That evening we left a carrot and a turnip for St. Nicholas' donkey by the back door. In return, "he" left her some cookies. And tomorrow is the school Christmas party where the kids are singing songs about Santa, a Christmas tree and Jingle Bells in English taught by yours truly.

Although I've made progress on the whole Santa-St. Nick-Père Noël issue from last year, I'm a little stuck on the whole Hannumas deal. It seems like both Jerome and I have so much to offer the kids in terms of our cultural baggage, but how much is too much? Will we confuse them? Will we broaden their horizons? Will they be resentful (that's a definite yes since all kids are, right)?

There are certain sacrifices that I already make since I represent the minority language, culture and religion (Jerome was brought up without a religion, but as I discussed a while back, Christmas in France is far from a religious thing). When we go to see my parents, Suzanne enjoys going to the synagogue and lighting the candles every Friday night (something we started doing here at Suzanne's request!), and she loves learning Hebrew letters. And all of those things were great memories of my childhood, even if I resented it later (see above). And it saddens me sometimes that there are sacrifices that I've made partly because "my life didn't go as I planned" (I never planned on moving to France) and because I don't have a strong feeling on religion.

So going back to my original question - how much is too much? We already have French, American, Judaism, Chinese much more can the kids handle?


Jan Exner said...

We are in a very similar situation (4 languages, 2 very different cultures, religion, agnosticism, ...).

My take on this: they'll soak it all up, digest it and find something that will make total sense to them in the end.

Kids are built to do that.

English Rider said...

Knowledge and options are always good. Going through life thinking everyone must be the same? Not so good.

Sweet Caroline said...

I cannot help but think that your children are all the better for the many influence on their lives this early. There are many moments when I wish I had had such exposure when I was young, particularly in the case of languages...

Luckily I was given a great understanding of the many facets of America through a collection of far-flung relations. Travelling all across the continental US gave me such a feeling for the depth of human experience, I can only imagine how blessed your wee ones are!

Reb said...

Thanks for the comments. I do know it's an advantage and the positive outweighs the negative. but sometime I'm worreid about the overload. I remember a Finnish-German friend (who grew up in FRance, the US and Spain) once told me that the problem with speaking so many languages is that you make mistakes in all of them...but he's turned out ok.

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