Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Posts Tagged ‘identity

Jubilee

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Last week I was talking to another “foreign born spouse” as people like to call us, about how things are different for us.  When we move to a new country, our husbands go to work the next day, and essentially return to America.  They have all the structure, routine, and familiarity immediately in place.  Not so for us, who are immediately trying to find ourselves (again) in a foreign land.  We are the ones getting lost as we drive around trying to find new schools, and so on.

Now, likely all those married into the foreign service are nodding their heads at this point.  But things are different if you’re not US-born.  We get lost in a different way.  When homesickness creeps in, you know that it won’t be long until there is a Thanksgiving, or Independence Day celebration.  You know that when it is time for home leave, you’ll actually go home.

It is over three and a half years since I was in England.  My son has never been to the mother country.  I have nephews and a niece I’ve never even met in person.

The same day we had this conversation, we went into one of those fancy shops that make you forget which continent you’re one because everything is imported.  Lo and behold, there was an entire table of decorations and accessories for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee that had been imported from Blighty.

My husband often laughs at the way I’ve become so much more English since becoming American too.  He was particularly perplexed when I suggested demanded that we host a Jubilee celebration in honour of Her Majesty!

I’m the same person who, when living in England, was so disinterested in all things to do with the monarchy that I don’t even remember The Golden Jubilee taking place.

But then, am I the same person?  It isn’t just about being an expat now.  Since being married, my identity has changed so much.  First I was a wife, then a mother, then American, then a special needs mother.

Soon I’ll be a working mother too, and I’ll proudly serve my American community here, but at times I wonder if I’m losing every part of who I used to be, as I become identified only in relation to somebody else.  I’m Spectrummy Daddy’s wife when I go to the Consulate.  I’m Pudding’s or Cubby’s mum at their schools.  I’d say there are many people here who don’t even know my name, let alone who I am.

Later that evening, I tried to explain things to Spectrummy Daddy.  I turned to Cubby (my kids are also dual nationals) and asked him if her was American or English.

‘Merican.  I’m not English, I’m a ‘merican.

Spectrummy Daddy tried to rememdy things by asking him if he liked soccer, I mean,  football.

I like soccer!

Sigh.  With no further delay, I set to sending out invites, making the decorations, and creating a menu as British as could be for our very own Jubilee celebration.  Pudding only became involved when she saw what amounts of cream and sugar my people use.  But every royal kitchen needs an official taster, right?

The party was a great success, and it sated my inner Brit until we get to go to England in September.  We toasted Her Royal Highness, we read out loud the Duke of Edinburgh’s gaffes, we drank Pimm’s and ate coronation chicken, cucumber sandwiches, scones and trifle.

But all this was for me.

The kids ate, then disappeared.  Cubby was upstairs playing with his  American/Chinese-Australian friends, while Pudding played outdoors holding hands with our American/Australian neighbour.  Our community is nothing if not like a 1980s Benetton commercial.

Proving once again that my kids have figured out lessons I keep having to live through.  It isn’t about where you hail from, or what your passport says, or where you call home.  It is about being true to yourself and enjoying every moment life has to offer you, no matter where you happen to be.

I’m going to start right now- by enjoying a cup of tea and a biscuit.  I’m sure Her Majesty would approve.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

June 4, 2012 at 10:44 am

Pudding Was A Girl

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On Friday afternoon, I was trying to hold it together.  I was exhausted, and wanted to crawl into bed, but that wasn’t an option.  I’d kept Pudding home from school with a cold, but she was just getting more and more hyperactive.

I went to the bathroom, and when I returned to the kitchen, I found some hair that had been snipped.  Close by were some kitchen scissors, that had been placed out of reach, but nothing is out of reach to Pudding.  It was only a matter of time before she cut her hair again, and that was the time she chose.

At first I was relieved that such a small amount had been cut, but when I picked it up to out it into the rubbish bin, I found lots more.  I did not handle it well.

She’d cut the hair above her ear, and It looked like a one-sided mullet.  Together with the bits of hair that she’d cut close to the scalp the last time, it looked really bad.

The next day I’d calmed down considerably, but I still hated the hair.  The last time she’d cut it, we’d taken her to the hairdresser.  Spectrummy Daddy thought that if we established that hair could only be cut in a salon, she’d stop attempting it at home.  I’d demanded a pixie cut, but she refused and did her best to fix it up.  I didn’t like the “style” with Pudding’s contribution to the procedure still clearly visible.

So on Saturday, I resolved to take matters into my own hands.  My friend came over to help (make sure I didn’t go too far), and Pudding got a pixie cut.  It really looks adorable.  Her eyes seem even larger than before.  The bits that she cut blend in much better.  It has more texture, but is easier to manage.  I love it.

She hates it.

She felt how short I was cutting it at the back, and ran from the chair.  I had to finish trimming as she bounced all over the place.

But worse was to come when she looked in the mirror.

Pudding was a girl.” Over and over.  Followed by screaming and crying.

We went out into the garden to calm down, which I hoped would happen quicker without any mirrors around.  My friend took this photo, which at once shows how cute her new style is, and how unhappy she is about it.

While Pudding has always been attracted to long hair, I never realized she had made such an association between hair-length and femininity.  I thought she just enjoyed the tactile sensation as a sensory seeker.  Pudding’s hair came in slowly as a baby, and doesn’t grow quickly now.  I didn’t realize that she had this impression that girls must have long hair, and boys’ must be short.

She was still upset later when we went to an event with the consulate community.  I mentioned to another friend how upset she was, who told me she’d read recently that girls in kindergarten will already exclude other girls if they don’t have long hair!  Like Pudding needs another reason to be excluded- we can’t even get her onto kindergarten.

A couple of days later, and she seems to have settled into her hair.  At least, she can look into a mirror without tearing up.  We went to the shops to let her pick out new hair accessories, and everybody agrees how gorgeous she looks.  It is long enough for her to twirl still, but dries much more quickly (the noise of the hair -dryer is a problem for our girl).

So we thought our problem was a 5 year-old who is a little scissor-happy, but now I wonder at how her self-esteem may be affected.  There is a bigger problem that our culture so effectively constructs femininity that hair-length is such a serious matter at such a young age.  Then again, should I be pleased that a child on the autism spectrum is sensitive to such matters?

I don’t really have the answers to such questions.  I’m just trying to raise two children to be as happy and balanced as possible in a world that isn’t always very accommodating to those who are different.  If Pudding feels she needs long hair, then I’m not going to get in the way of that.  I just hope she doesn’t self-sabotage when she next feels the urge to cut.

And given how long it is going to take to grow her hair out, maybe she’ll learn there is much more to who she is than her hair, a lesson I once learned myself.  Long hair or short, she’ll always be somebody.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

March 27, 2012 at 11:47 am