Dad dot info
DAD.info form. Ask questions, get answers

Ancestral Memories

My son and daughter were rolling around the floor of the lounge playing with their toy cars, trucks and buses. Meri, my four year old daughter, had a big, red fire engine.

“Nee naw, nee naw!” went the fire engine under my daughter’s less than careful driving.

 

I stopped for a moment. Something was wrong and I took a few seconds to reflect. Then it struck me: police cars, fire engines and ambulances don’t go “nee-naw” any more. They go “woo, woo”- the old horn sirens having been replaced by electronic ones.

It is very unlikely that my daughter or son at the tender ages of 4 and 6 have ever heard an old style “nee-naw” siren but here they were making exactly that noise for a racing fire engine.
I was puzzled. Despite hearing the modern sirens almost every day, they were making a historical, anachronistic noise. Clearly, ignoring all the evidence of the real world, they had picked up the noise that we, aged adults, remembering our youth in the seventies and eighties, make when playing with toys. It made me think about the huge influence we have on our children, not only could we over-ride the evidence of their own ears but we were instilling in them ancestral memories without even being aware of it.

My ancestors are from India, many generations back. As I may have said before, despite all my heirs and graces I come from a proud tradition of peanut farming. I remind my daughter at every turn that she is not a princess, she’s a peasant girl and she too is now proud of this heritage. My side of the family brings a huge amount of ancestral memory: language, culture, food, religion, history that is so very different to the experiences my children will have. My wife and I have always taken the view that we want our children to have as much exposure to different cultures as possible. We are firmly of the view that this will not dilute their cultural heritage but will enrich it. I want them to celebrate Chinese new year, Eid, Hanukah and Diwali as well as Christmas.

However, like Nigel Farage, I don’t want a great big melting pot of different cultures turning the experiences of my children into some homogenous gloop (just like I hate fusion cuisine). Unlike Nigel Farage, I want them to experience these different cultures vibrant and proud standing next to one another with mutual respect and admiration and I do worry that this magnificent kaleidoscope might get lost somewhere.

Later that day, during bath time, my daughter was in reflective mood.

“I understand everything that Nan and Granddad say, “she said. “But I don’t understand what you and granny sometimes say to each other.” She thought for a minute, “But I do know a few words.”

“Granny would love to teach you more words of Gujerati,” I said. “Would you like that?”

She just nodded and got on with her important playing in the bath.

 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the blogger and do not necessarily represent the views of Dad.info.

Related entries

Too old for this

Too old for this

It was late on a Thursday evening and Rodger and I were walking up Upper Street in Islington, looking for a Thai restaurant. We were a little worse for wear   “You OK?” he asked looking at my awkward gait. “Yeah,” I said with that little inflection that indicated...

The big day

The big day

I could hear the rustling from the room next-door and glanced at my watch: 6:30 am. I groaned to myself but there was a certain inevitability about it   The kids bounded into our room moments later. “Is Uncle Steve here? Is he here?” They asked excitedly. “Yes,...

The big questions

The big questions

I was walking home from school with my five year old daughter. As we approached our front door she looked up at me   “Daddy?” she asked in that tone of voice that all dads will recognise as a precursor to something that they’ve been pondering. “Yes?” I answered...

Latest entries

The Best Family Walks in Britain

The Best Family Walks in Britain

We could all do with exercise, fresh air and some lovely low-cost days out, not to mention some beautiful scenery. Charles Clinkard have put together a list of the 40 greatest walks for families in Britain, taking into account a number of helpful amenities such as...

How To Keep Your Child Safe Online

How To Keep Your Child Safe Online

As a parent of a 10 year old who is rapidly approaching the age where he will be getting his own phone, I’m concerned about ensuring he isn’t exposed to a cavalcade of disturbing things online. I’m worrying about bullying, about him being contacted or making friends...

21 Things You Didn’t Know About Japan

21 Things You Didn’t Know About Japan

The Olympics have started! Despite a lack of fans (crowd noise will be piped into the stadiums instead) the event is still as important as ever and makes for great summer viewing. So at Dad.Info we have rounded up 21 interesting facts about Japan to both liberally...

Pin It on Pinterest