Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Sophie cheers for Singapore

It's funny how things come around- I spent the bulk of my doctoral program studying children's notions of national identity and wrote a 250-page dissertation on the topic. I spoke to 140 students from both Singapore and the U.S. as part of my research and read everything that can be read on the topic. So you would think pretty much nothing can surprise me when it comes to little kids talking about what it means to be a citizen of a country. Unless it's my own two-year old that is.

So apparently, Sophie's teachers have been talking to them about the upcoming Olympics at daycare (I'm not sure what kinds of conversations toddlers can have about international sporting events but ok...). One of her classmate's parents are from Canada and so he kept saying, "I cheer for Canada!" According to her teachers, Sophie was not to be outdone and declared to everyone, "I cheer for Singapore!" Now, on the surface, that doesn't seem surprising. But Jude and I have never talked to Sophie about her citizenship, about how she's born in the U.S. but both her parents are Singaporeans. I wasn't even sure she knows what a country is, lest of all that Singapore is one. So how she knows to cheer for a country which she only remembers traveling to once is beyond me- as far as she's concerned, Singapore could be like Boston or Chicago- the two other places she remembers visiting.

It might be that it's the only place we talk about frequently- we hardly make references to Ann Arbor specifically or the U.S. in general since living here means we sort of take it for granted (or talk about local places instead, like the library, grocery store, or the museum, etc); whereas Singapore is "there", where family is- her grandparents, her aunts, uncles, and cousins, and where we spent Christmas and New Year. I doubt there's any of those ephemeral feelings of belonging or allegiance that are accompanying her "support" of Singapore for the Olympics (honestly, I'm wondering if she even really understands what it means to cheer something on), but right now, it's obvious that to Sophie, Singapore is just different, special somehow.

Look at this picture we took of Sophie's artwork that's on display right now at our neighborhood cafe. It has a little sign in the corner about how old she is and what her Likes are. Sophie's Likes- "The Muppets, Singapore, singing." :)

Sophie's artwork up at Cafe Marie
Sophie's artwork on display at Cafe Marie

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