About Me

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Michigan, United States
a registered yoga teacher, and a Thai/Yoga Bodywork practitioner.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Tribe of four

kids dancing at part

My daughter, M, has just a few good friends. One girl is a full three years younger, but they play as equals. They giggle like mad when they're together. They are in the same dance class and always opt for each other as partner when a dance move requires two bodies.

This friend is not homeschooling, but she is part of a community that sets her apart, a culture that's in the minority. She, her family and her tight community strive to preserve this identity. They don't just pay homage to it like the eyedropper-full Irish who go green on St. Pat's Day or my husband's increasingly watered-down Italian family who love garlic and all, but are otherwise integrated.

This group has a language, a traditional dress, customary music, etc. They hold education classes to continue teaching the young ones. It has been my only glimpse into what an Old World neighborhood would have been like when America was less homogenized.

The friend's name has a pronunciation that everyone "out here" turns into something else. Imagine the name "Mar-TI-nez" (Martinez) pronounced (oh, shudder) Martin-EZ. This girl rolls with it, though. She's not expecting everyone to get it.

My M. uses the proper pronunciation. I learned from the mother how to say the name. That's how M. learned it.

"My dance class makes fun of me for saying (friend's) name that way," M. says. "Even the teacher does."
(She repeats their phrasing, which exaggerates the vowel change).

There's a lesson in this. Give me a second...

"Do you want to say it like everyone else, or do you want to say it the way you know is right?"

"The right way."

"Okay. This is a good thing, you know." (Quizzical eyebrows from M.) "This is a chance for you to do what you know is right even though everyone else, including the person in charge, is doing it another way."

I let her think on that and comb my mind for possible complications...Ah!

"Did (your friend) ask you to say her name like everyone else?"
"So what would you rather do?"
"Say her name the right way."

I can't claim a single heritage. This is a household of European mutts. However, in homeschooling, there's a definite clan, a way-we-do-things that is not diluted by spending most of our days apart. It's a small thing, but I am pleased M. would rather stand out and get a little ribbing than relent and go along with the class. She'll get support from her tribe (us) and experience facing off against a crowd that wants--in a gentle, teasing way-- conformity.

I hope this builds resistance for future times when the teasing is less gentle and the crowd more imposing than a gaggle of girls in tights.


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