Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Becky's Bottom Line: Acculturation and Assimilation

Becky's Bottom Line
By Becky Brownstein 


While my kids are young and are still trying to listen to and explore their surroundings, it often makes me think about the times long ago when explorers were still discovering the world. These explorers docked their boats on foreign land to discover. They didn’t know what it was they were discovering, but they wanted to discover. Y’know, totally cool with me since I am no historian and doodled my way through history class. I am going to assume that they hopped off their boats and started learning new things to bring back to their own lands. I assume this from the fact that we all have popcorn thanks to the Native Americans and tea from Boston. Also from the phrase “when in Rome do as the Romans.” It had to come from somewhere.

Now that some of my kids have gotten a little older, watching the younger ones grow and adapt to their surroundings is quite entertaining. I’ll explain.

My first daughter had to figure herself out all by herself. Yes, she did have my husband and myself to try to emulate, but she needed to figure out her likes, dislikes, way of speech and actions on her own. When her sister was born, while she was still very young, they were able to form a bond and copy each other. As they grew into their own they became very different personality wise. But they still shared mannerisms, speech, and social tendencies. They kind of set the tone on how to act for the rest of kids of the house. They became the natives of the land. Subsequent children became the explorers who liked the natives so much, and moved on in. Watching the explorers “explore” and learn the way of the land, adapting to the natives speech and all makes for great watching.

When my third daughter was born she fell right into the swing of things. Her speech matched her older sisters and her mannerisms as well. She knew when to laugh and when to stand up for herself. My fourth daughter struggled for a long time but then she finally got the hang of it when her little brother was born. She wanted to be big like the natives, not little like the new explorer.

Watching my little boy stay so boyish with all these older sisters is hysterical. He acts like them in his speech, i.e. screaming “MMMAAAAAAAAAMMMMMMMMMYYYYYYYYY” when he needs to get taken out of his crib, sitting on the couch and asking me to “pess pay” (press play), saying “I neeeeeed it” like a pro and sharing my lap with the others. But because he is a boy and is so like a boy, a lot of his actions are very different from the girls. He would rather throw trucks at the wall than lets say, play with a doll. He could eat crayons until I have to pull every last piece out (while he laughs hysterically) than sit and color. He would rather empty an entire pantry out, than help mix cake batter. Set the table? Hah! Let’s pull the table cloth off, plates and all.

Bottom line is: My little boy has assimilated as a native and has become acculturated to his surroundings but is still his own self. Every one of my kids is their own self, but they still got the Brownstein native flavor. That’s what makes us a family and that’s what keeps us bonded (and me laughing). The natives are great, but we also love explorers.

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