Friday, August 17, 2007

The new face of North America

Daniel and I have spent a lot of time this week participating in a favorite past-time of new parents- the analysis of our son's tiny little features, and the discussion of whose nose/eyes/ears/mouth he has. So far we're pretty decided on the nose, eyes and mouth. And definitely my chubby cheeks. How a 5.5 pound baby can manage to have chubby cheeks and a double chin totally baffles me. It'll be years before some of his other characteristics can be identified and blame assigned- we're praying hard that he'll get my musical talents and Daniel's athletic ability. If he goes the other way around on that one, we're in serious trouble.

But there's an extra element to our baby analysis- the element of which race our baby more resembles. Truthfully, when he's sleeping (which is 99.9999% of the time), it's hard to see much Chinese in him. He doesn't have a whole lot of hair yet, so we don't have that to make him look Asian. And he still has the newborn dark blue eye color, so that's not Chinese. Daniel didn't believe me for a full day when I told him that the baby had blue eyes. The shape of Ethan's eyes is more Asian than Caucasian, when his eyes are open at least. But overall, I don't think people would be able to easily identify him as a half-Asian baby. I feel vaguely guilty about this, like my big bad German genes beat up Daniel's Chinese genes while Ethan was in utero. I even found myself saying the other day "oh, send that picture to your mom. She'll like it, since Ethan looks Chinese in the picture." I don't really think that my in-laws care that much one way or another, although I'm sure they have some moments of concern about my ability to raise a child that is still a part of their culture.

The truth is though, Ethan is the face of New America. Interracial/intercultural marriages are on the rise, and all around us, kids are being born with the beautiful features of multiple races. At our church, we've had 10 babies born this year, and over half of the kids are mixed race. I'm glad Ethan has this group of people who are like him- who have to live in two cultures and constantly answer the question from strangers "now, what are you exactly?" I'm never going to be able to understand what it's like for him- the challenges of visiting grandparents who speak a language that his mother doesn't understand, of having skin a color that doesn't match either of his parents, of being a 15th generation American on one side of his family and a 2nd generation Canadian on the other side. I hope he grows up learning to appreciate both sets of roots and that he can take the best from Daniel's background and family and the best from my background and family and become a strong, loving, God-fearing man. And I hope he can learn to skip before the age of 10 and play t-ball without injuring himself. Seriously, pray for Daniel's athletic genes to prevail.


Karen said...

Genes are a funny thing, aren't they? I have a Swedish child, a Puerto Rican child, and one that is somewhere in between. :)

Anonymous said...

Congrats on little Ethan! We have a 4 month old and at birth he was the spitting image of my husband. Now we don't see either of us in him, They change so quickly. A word of encouraement about the breastfeeding. It gets easier and you eventually feel less cow-like. But, don't put too much pressure on yourself. Let Daniel do a bottle and you pump. That's what we did and it was a great mental relief and my husband enjoyed the bonding time with him.

kyouell said...

Except for getting my pointy chin & very little hair (I was a bald baby), neither of our kids looked like either of us when they were born. They look like each other, so I guess they were meant to be brother & sister. Only in the last few weeks has my daughter started to look like me. Which is cool because at about the same age our son started to look like my hubby.

Point being: Who Ethan looks like now may not be who he looks like in a few months.