While sipping a big mug of Pumpkin Chair tea today, I watched my twin toddlers talk to their grandparents in Mexico on Skype. They laughed, interacted and enjoyed the conversation and a chance to connect with their grandparents that live so far away. I wish they were closer. I wish my boys could spend hours playing and talking with their Mexican family, but a 5+ hour expensive plane ride stands in our way.
Honouring our boys Mexican heritage is sometimes hard when you live in small town Ontario, but with a globally connected world it is much easier than it would have been just ten years ago. Here are some of the ways that we help our boys to connect with their culture:
- Language: My husband speaks 90% of the time to the boys in Spanish. Since they were born we have been working to ensure that they would be bilingual to keep lines of communication open with their family in Mexico (who do not speak English).
- Food: My husband is a chef who specializes in Mexican cuisine. We always have Mexican food cooking in our house and work hard to find ingredients to keep their authenticity. The boys’ favorite breakfast is fresh salsa and eggs.
- Toys: When possible, we purchase any toys that talk (e.g. leapfrog toys) in the United States so that the bilingual option is Spanish and English rather than French and English like the Canadian toys are. While I would love for my boys to learn French as well, I think that immersing them in two languages is really important now to lay a foundation for other languages later.
- Books: We have lots of Spanish books around our house that the boys love to read and look at. We have purchased some online, others on trips and many have been given as gifts. Our current favorites were just purchased at F.A.O. Schwartz in NYC this summer.
- Cultural events and holidays: As a family we try to celebrate both Mexican and Canadian holidays. We honour Halloween and Day of the Dead. We celebrate Canada Day and Mexican Independence Day. The biggest benefit to us is that there always seems to be something to celebrate!
- Music: With the many wonderful radio apps, my husband connects to home by daily listening to his favorite radio stations in Mexico City. Our house is filled with Mexican music, singing, and even some impromptu dancing.
In the end, it is hard to really immerse our boys in both cultures but we work hard to make choices that help our boys understand where the other half of their family comes from and the traditions and language that is important to them. I feel lucky that we live in Canada, a place I feel is very open and welcoming to different traditions, customs and cultures. We chose names for our boys that translate easily for both cultures and languages and hope that they will grow to truly appreciate and embrace their multi-ethnic background.
This post was written to appear as a guest post on My Twinopia.