Sunday, December 16, 2007

Nationality, Language and Religion...


Last week, while we were driving, Einey asks me, "how did you know I was going to be English and not Spanish?". I glanced back and told her "you're neither, you are American". After a blank look, she asks well what is an "American". So we talked about how your nationality is determined by where you are born and that since we live in America, it makes her American. I guess I never quite answered her question, because a few minutes later, she asked, "How did you know I would speak English and not Spanish". After a few chuckles, I told her that the language you speak is usually determined by the language you hear spoken at home.

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At school this month, the girls started off their lessons learning about Hanukkah and Kwanza in addition to Christmas. So while they were lighting the weekly advent candles, they were also making Menorah's. Meenie's preschool class talked about how all three celebrations have things in common. They all use candles to celebrate, they all have families gathering for feasts and have some sort of present giving. And it's all a way to celebrate your heritage.

At the end of their lessons, their Menorah's came home. Meenie asked if we could light it. As I lit the candles, she started to spin her dreidel and sing the dreidel song. At this point, Einey flipped out and stormed out of the room.
"I don't want to be Jewish, you need to stop right now. It's not fair. I just don't understand"

When I finally got her to calm down I tried to explain to her that what we did did not make her Jewish. That it takes alot more to convert to a new Religion. And also that being Jewish means much more than religion because it is also an ethnicity.

At the same time, we brought up the subject of tolerance. We explain that while it wasn't something she normally celebrates, nor something she fully understood, that her reaction was unacceptable. We explained that as she grows up, she is going to meet people who don't share the same beliefs as she does and that's it's okay. It's part of that diversity that makes everyone special. One day, she's going to have friends who have different religions, heritage and political beliefs than she does and that she's going to need to accept it.

Of all the kids, I didn't think she would be the one to react like that. She is usually pretty tolerant and has never let anything like religion or ethnicity bother her before. But as I look back on it, I think she was scared. And while I know she still doesn't fully understand, one day she will.

3 comments:

Mac and Cheese said...

You did a good job with that situation. It's amazing how fear of the unknown can lead to anger or intolerance at any age.

rebelmom said...

Too deep for me to think about right now. I LOVE the top pic - was it meant to look like the middle mallow has a face? See you Sunday.

Whirlwind said...

Rebelmom - I think thats actually one of the spots Moe grabbed a bite from. Marshmellows and glue - yuck!

Mac and Cheese - thanks!