When my son was in kindergarten, he came home one day asking me if he was a Chinaboy. His question took me by surprise because it was out of the blue. The first thing out of my mouth was, ” Why, do you think you are Chinese? Who gave you that idea? We don’t even look Chinese!” He said some kids at school was calling him that. I told him, “When you go back to school, you tell them you are Spanotian (Spanish and Laotian). From that moment on I knew I had to step up my “cultural lessons” at home.
As a parent, raising two multiracial children, I have always try to expose them to both sides of their roots: the Lao roots and Latin roots. I am Lao but my grandfather is Vietnamese. Their dad is Spanish (father’s family is from Spain, Native American and Mexican( mom’s family from Mexico). Both of us are proud of who we are and tried to teach our children about both cultures. Even though my children’s father and I are no longer married, we both agree that it is important that our kids get expose to both cultures. For example, I teach them about everything that defines our Lao culture such as language, dress, food, traditions, stories, values, music, behavior, and etiquette. In my house I cook Spanish food and traditional Lao food. Both my kids love sticky rice and pho. My son loves Lao food more than my daughter but my daughter loves Spanish food more than Lao food.
Even though I want my kids to be proud of their Lao roots and Latin roots, I also teach them to be proud Americans. I talk to them about politics, voting, the census, civic responsibilities, and civil liberties. I just don’t talk about those things but show them through actions instead of just words. For example, I am a registered voter. Before hitting the polls, I asked them who I should vote for and why. Then I tell them who I was going to vote for and why. For census 2010, I showed them the forms and explained to them why I was going to check other next to race write in Laotian so our ethnic group can be accurately counted.
Just because we no longer live in Laos, doesn’t mean we should forget our roots. I’m trying to not be a lousy Lao!