While I sit here waiting for my family to come home, I think of the reasons why I have, perhaps, been waking during the night lately. I usually sleep like a rock. It is unusual for me to wake at all and I am concerned that it is because of something hanging over me. A cloud about to burst.
I had a conversation with a wonderful family last night after our annual Spring Chorus Concert. They had come to see their 4th grade daughter sing, and had stuck around afterward for the ice cream. It was a combination night - concert, book fair and ice cream social. A great turnout, overall. Anyway, we struck up a conversation over a "ribbing" I had given their daughter, teasing her over a joke she had played on me. It was all really quite funny, and I cherish the relationships I have with the families in my school community. We got to talking about families and cultures, and eventually I asked them if they had to do it all over again (they are from Mexico and had raised their two older children, for a good number of their formative years, in Mexico; the 4th grader has grown up thus far in the United States public education system), would they do it the same way, or would they stay in Mexico? Raise their family in Mexico?
Mom answered almost immediately: Mexico. Dad became quite passionate and went into great detail to explain his position. Everything he has is because of the opportunities the United States has afforded him. He wanted to assure me that, throughout his story, he meant no disrespect toward Americans or the United States. I assured him I was not easily offended. Feeling comfortable, he pressed on, explaining that he felt it very important for his children to understand that they were Mexican. They were living in the United States, and felt a connection with the United States and other Americans, but they were most definitely Mexican.
He began to explain to me that he felt like kids in the United States seem different than kids in Mexico. He couldn't quite come up with the word, so I went out on a limb: "spoiled?" I asked. Yes, he said. That was it. Kids in the United States seemed more spoiled than kids in Mexico. Kids in the United States (some, not all, he was sure to point out) seem to take things for granted, including their parents, as evidenced by the way many kids talk to and treat their parents these days.
We did not get to finish our conversation, as I was pulled away to conduct the book raffle and thank people for coming out tonight. I understood where they were coming from, though, and vowed to continue the conversation. It is intriguing to me. I wonder just how different kids in other countries are from kids in America. I wonder about kids and families coming to America to find the "good life," do they ever find it? Is it all they hoped and dreamed for? And what happens when kids begin learning in our public education system? What happens to the bond between the family? Do they begin thinking in different languages? Does this do something to the deep, personal connection to heritage? I vowed to find out.
I found the family after the raffle was over and asked them if they would be interested in continuing our conversation. Of course they would, they said. We shook hands, I gave the kids hugs goodbye, and we parted for the evening. On Monday I will call to invite myself over for dinner.