Holidays can be a little bit tricky in a Full Spectrum household. Take Easter, please. The morning egg hunt presents huge problems when one child goes Machiavellian (strategy, speed, ruthlessness; goal: vanquishing cousins, sibling…result: victory) and one goes aspergian (general neural overload - candy, neural/visual/auditory overload – frolicking cousins, warp-speed sibling; goal: vague…result: paralysis, tears). (Please see self-explanatory Figures 1 and 2.) Ditto, Birthdays: think piñatas, favors &c. We have adapted by focusing on the pre-filled Easter basket, the set number of packets – one for each child – in the piñata, and so forth.
Figure 1 Figure 2
St. Patrick’s Day, too, has its potential pitfalls. Over oatmeal breakfast on that fateful day, I was sharing an uplifting story of how the children’s Scots great-grandfather would wear a button on his bum that read, “Kiss me, I’m Irish,” much to their Irish great-grandmother’s chagrin, when Z asked me, “Mama, am I Irish?”
[Censored!] I was completely tongue-tied. There was a long and (to me) somewhat uncomfortable silence. I’d’ve preferred to have been thinking about many other questions right then, including my ongoing internal debate over which is better as the face ages: the jowl-less wrinkles of your skinnier folk or the wrinkle-free jowls of the pleasantly plump?
Ahem. Since Z was adopted from China, I have a ready-made response for one of the hardest questions: “Why didn’t my birth mother keep me?” China’s one-child policy –for all its questionable aspects – offers the option of a simple answer to this complicated question: “Your birth Mama gave you up because she had to, since in China most couples are allowed only one child.”
But what about this question? Is Z Irish or not? Clearly she is not genetically Irish. But her maternal great-grandmother was fresh off the boat from Ireland. Pardner, G and I are all genetically part-Irish. As I sat there, mouth agape, Pardner (Thank you universe for Pardner! Thank you! Thank you!) came to the rescue, assuring her in a strong brogue that, “Everyone’s Irish on St. Paddy’s Day!”
“Good,” she said, “because the leprechauns are going to come to our school this weekend and turn everybody’s chairs over.”
Walking into school several weeks after St. Patrick’s Day, Z asked me, “Mama, if we can have ancestors…can we also have ‘anbrothers?’” After I stopped laughing and, frankly, bragging to everyone I ran into over the next few hours about how funny Z is, it hit me that she is still thinking about ancestry a great deal.
Maybe all those Easter eggs – and all those other material, tangible, often-edible (and sometimes eaten even when not-edible) things -- feel vitally important to a little girl who’s not quite sure what’s inside herself.
Next year I am just going to say, “Yes. Yes, you are Irish baby. Because you are mine.”
Love and leprechauns,
Full Spectrum Mama