SteelyKid is, as I have noted previously, half Korean, a quarter Polish, and an eighth each Irish and German. Her parents are irreligious, the extended family is Catholic (more so on my side than Kate’s), and she goes to day care at the Jewish Community Center. In other words, a thoroughly American sort of upbringing. I can’t wait to see what she finds to rebel against when she hits the teenage years.
For no obvious reason, three of the four kids she’s most likely to play with on the playground when I pick her up in the evening (we play at the JCC for a while before going home, to give Kate time to get home and change clothes and stuff) have parents whose primary language at home is not English. Earlier this week, another parent asked me if Kate spoke another language, wondering how SteelyKid dealt with the bilingual thing; I explained that Kate’s really from Boston, and we’re a monolingual household. SteelyKid makes up for that by talking twice as much as any of her playmates.
(Seriously, she chatters almost constantly, with a wonderful sort of free-associative quality to it. The other day she asked what a large brown piece of paper in one of the classrooms was, and I said that it was some sort of art project, but I didn’t know what it was. She looked at it for a minute, then said, “It’s probably going to turn into a bear.” Which was the start of a five-minute monologue about how it wasn’t going to be a big scary bear with sharp teeth but a little tiny bear, not scary, and how the bear would play with her and her friends. It’s a little like my own personal Axe Cop every afternoon.)
Anyway, this is the kind of thing I was thinking about when I followed a link from Steve Hsu to this New York Magazine piece by Wesley Yang about cultural obstacles to success for Asian-Americans. This obviously isn’t a direct problem for me, but I wonder a bit about what sort of expectations people will put on SteelyKid as she gets older.
Unfortunately, I think it’s a deeply, deeply problematic article.