American Boy

Yesterday was my son’s last day of school. Apparently they had a big cleaning session and a ceremony. The teachers also passed out report cards and homework. Jio brought home a little book about himself that he made in English class. On one page, he had to write where he was from. He wrote “I am from America.” Well, he was born in Japan and has never actually lived in the United States, so this was very surprising to me. The last time we were in South Carolina, he identified heavily as Japanese. I’m glad he’s embracing his American side, but I hope it doesn’t mean he’s feeling alienated. Tonight he told me that some second grade girl at school called him “Gaikoku-kun,” which means “Mr. Foreigner.” We had a long talk and I hope I said the right things. He doesn’t often bring up stuff like that, and I think it’s extremely important to keep the channels of communication open.


2 thoughts on “American Boy

  1. I always worry about how I’ll deal with that issue when it comes up. I hope someone tells the little girl that it’s not okay to call him that. He isn’t a foreigner, anyway.

  2. I decided at one point that I would just let him be Japanese, because it seems better to have a solid identity than a fractured one. But he is, of course, a little bit different and he has an American mother, and I don’t want him to be ashamed of that. It’s a challenge. I told him that the little girl spoke out of ignorance, and that he was lucky to have access to two cultures. Or something like that.

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