It was when my younger daughter and I were on our way home from her after school activity. During this 30 minutes drive, she usually sings various songs. The evening started the same as usual until she stopped singing and said “I don’t want to be an asparagus”.
Asparagus is the only food she doesn’t like. Often she leaves asparagus on her plate if we serve them. She eats meat, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms and more, but not asparagus.
She is the girl who likes to play with boys at recess. She joins boys to play tag or other games. Sometimes, they divide kids into two teams to play. Each team would have a team leader and each team leader picks one kid at a time. When it happens, often she becomes the last one to be picked. Just like those asparagus left on her plate. She said it had to be either a boy or a popular girl to be picked early. She felt she didn’t get picked just because she looked like a girl and was not a popular one.
I have a brother, and my closest cousins whom we played often were boys. Many of my neighbor kids were boys too. So I was in situations where I was the only girl. And I experienced things that only I couldn’t do, such as peeing behind the bush with possi. I didn’t like being a girl. I felt it was unfair that there wre things only boys could do and girls couldn’t. I wanted to be part of the group. But my experience was more than 40 years ago. I have been seeing things were more equal, and more equal in the US than in Japan. But it was my perception. My daughter’s perception was exactly the same as mine in 40 years ago.
When I realized that, I stopped trying to comfort her by telling how bad it was when I was little. Because it is as bad as it was in her mind.
I just listened to her and acknowledge & validate her words. As she was not ready to come home and didn’t want to share her emotional experience with the family, I stopped the car in our neighborhood and waited. I just waited, agreed, validate her. Wish her all the best. Wish all the girls (and boys) the best.
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