Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Times, They are a-Changin'

Thirteen years ago, I walked across a stage at the University of North Florida to receive my M.Ed. With the exception of  a couple of high school graduations held in their arena, I haven't spent much time there since.
Until this past January...when Isabel began taking language lessons there at The Jacksonville Chinese School on Sunday afternoons. I have been waiting for years for her to be old enough to begin. As a foreign language teacher, I know the importance of being exposed to a second (or third) language as early as possible. While I was in China, I visited a multi-storied version of Barnes and Noble to buy as many Chinese language children's CDs as possible. I wanted Isabel to remember the tones and cadence of the first language she ever heard.
Fast forward five years and she is once again being exposed to Chinese. So, for two hours a week, we trek over to the university for her lessons. Is the classroom management the best? No. Is the pacing wonderful? Nope. Do I care? Not a bit. And do you want to know why?   
Because for 120 minutes a week, my child is no longer... The Asian.
Instead, I am...The White Woman.
And I like that.
I need that. I need to remember that my child's world is not my world. I need to be reminded that while I waltz through my days oblivious to feeling out of place, Isabel is acutely aware of her difference.
We have entered a new developmental stage. You know, the one of growing awareness that, for all our love for each other, there will always be hard things that will be our reality. Being a trasracial adoptive single-parent family, it pops up in different ways. Like recently, when Isabel commented that the Barbie she got in her Happy Meal had "brown hair and brown skin like me, Mommy." Or when I received her recent Valentine's Day card that was addressed to Mom and Dad. When I asked her about Dad, she replied matter-of-factly, "He's in China."

I see changes. In little things and big. In subtle ways and obvious ones.
Yup.. the Times, They are a-Changin'.

PS. After our trek to UNF on Sunday, we discovered the class was canceled due to the holiday. Isabel asked to hang out on the steps for a while practicing her "Take-Aways" (subtraction) in her notebook.
We did.
She did.
Here are some images from then.


Unknown said...

Your words are so thought provoking and as always eloquent. Thank you for sharing with us and making our world a little brighter! Love both you & Isabel!

Number 6 and no more counting! said...

first time to your BLOG and I am blown away! Amazing post!


Anonymous said...

This post says so much. Thanks for sharing. My daughter is happy, fun-loving, smart, a loyal friend, and also accutely aware that she is Asian and we are white. I want so badly to understand, but honestly,l don't know what she's feeling during those quiet moments when she points out a book character who looks like her or says she wishes her skin was like mine. I see it, feel it like a mother feels for her child, but in no way can I truly understand it. ...and I will tell her just that. I want her to trust that she can share those moments with me. She is a unique gift from God. I am so proud to call her mine.