22.6.09

Who are you?

Today, the first day of the summer holidays, we headed to the beach in Sandvika for a couple of hours. It made me feel like a decent mother, and I got a bit of a tan at the same time.
In the afternoon the girls had two friends over - sisters the same age, and in their respective classes - who moved here from Malaysia around Christmastime. Eavesdropping on one conversation, as I do, the eldest sister asked my eldest daughter where she was from. I know she wanted to hear a country name, not an explanation of why with two nationalities (from countries she has never lived in), and being born in a third, having lived in a fourth for three years before moving to a fifth for the past four years, she doesn't really know. Neither does her mother. She said she didn't really know, and the conversation moved on.
'From my mommy's tummy' was a cute answer I overheard when they were younger but now I think it's time to come up with a more concise, and less literal response. Or maybe, it's not.
It's certainly a question all my children are going to be asked for the rest of their lives. I still get asked every time I meet someone new. And for me the answer is simple. For my kids, it's got to be better than, 'I don't really know'. It will probably end up being 'I'm Irish and Danish, and have lived in a few other countries' which doesn't exactly answer the question but does start telling their story.
I suppose after all when someone asks you 'Where are you from?' they are, in a polite way, asking 'Who are you?' anyway, aren't they?

11 comments:

Caroline said...

LOL - I can so relate to this post and how your little girl must be feeling. It can be oh so confusing at times.....

Joanne said...

Yep you are so right. I was born in the UK but have lived in SA since i was 10 and I still never feel completely South African and when I am in the UK I feel like it is home - strange.

RennyBA said...

Interesting post of something you not that often think about. Kind of a 'Sofi's world' question, isn't it. I liked your reflection about it.

Michele said...

Ditto what Renny said. Really interesting post. I guess there are two questions people always get asked: Where are you from and What do you do. I've always disliked the latter because of the judgement that comes with the response. And now that I'm an ex-pat, I'm growing to dislike the first because of all of the assumptions people have about Americans. For little kids growing up in a foreign country, though, they must be struggling with some sort of identity puzzle, maybe? Well, gosh, I guess many of us are... Great post.

Batgirl said...

I usually say I'm Norwegian, since I grew up here, which of course brings up at lot of other questions related to my name, accent etc. So then I go into the whole spiel. Good conversation starter :-)

Totally different topid: There's a beach in Sandvika? Where?! I may have to reconsider my Oslo hotel policy. Stayed out in Sandvika for so long in crappy weather I was desperate to get into town when the weather became nice.

Batgirl said...

Oops, that would be topic, not topid! :-) LOL

beaverboosh said...

Hugely important question that your children (and you as I'm sure you know) will be asked through life. Don't underestimate it! I'm going to use the mommy's tummy answer from here on in - it is an excellent response!

OSLO said...

Thank you for all your nice comments.
Batgirl - yes beach in Sandvika. Free parking for three hours. Its so hot here these days that I think I might expire - without complaint of course...

Irish Mammy said...

Sorry haven't been commenting as much as before, been pregnant protesting and now busy with a newborn...just to let you know I have nominated you for an award at my place!

Batgirl said...

It's been well hot lately! Wound up out at Snar√łya with a couple of friends last week - loads of swimmers out. Will have to consider bringing swimwear from now on :-)

OSLO said...

Irish Mammy - responded on your blog but still ahven't figured out how to upload the award (does that disqualify me?) ;)
Batgirl - have heard the new beach at Fornebu is lovely. Beach weather seems to have passed now unfortunately. Shame :(