Nothing Like Me

Just in case you were wondering, the lady in the haircut picture looks nothing like me. I don’t look like this either. I am hapa – half-Filipino (1st generation on Mother’s side) and half-Italian (2nd generation on Father’s side). Growing up on Long Island there was only one other Asian kid in my class. Hiro, an overly excited Japanese boy whose limited grasp of English consisted solely of the phrase “you porkie-pig”. He would yell this at you while attempting to grab your cheeks. This was back when if someone wanted to know “where I was from” they’d ask if I was Chinese or Japanese. My brother and I used to compete with each other over who looked more Asian – this was a not a positive thing in our minds. My parents were not a unified team. They fought constantly throughout my childhood. I believe that a lot of these identity issues came about because my parents did not know how to meld their marriage with the two personalities and two cultures at all. I didn’t really come to acknowledge and enjoy my Asian-ness till after college when I had a roomate that was also half-Filipino. She had grown up in the Philippines and only came here when she was 17 or 18 or so. My Mother loved her and I always kind of felt that she was the daughter my Mother never had.

P looks a lot like I did when I was her age but with blonde hair. It’s getting darker now though sometimes I still wonder if people think I’m her nanny, not her mom. I guess that I shouldn’t worry what other people are thinking – especially if they aren’t perceptive enough to see that she is my child – but I sometimes do. P doesn’t have a lot of other Asian faces in her life. I chose our pediatricians partly because two of the doctors were Asian. I wanted her to have some positive role models. G’s parents are from Norway and I feel like she’s getting a deeper Scandinavian experience than either Filipino or Italian. This is OK for now. We don’t see my parents as much as we see G’s. My parents live way out on the eastern end of Long Island here. They might as well live in a different state – it takes so long to get there. It’s not just that they live so far away – our relationship isn’t the best. I don’t feel like G likes to acknowledge that P is a part of them at all. As I’ve said, she doesn’t look anything other than white. I may not be so happy about my parents all the time but I do know that her heritage, who she is as a person and who she’ll be includes them.

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