Monday, August 18, 2008

Pride and Prejudice

Our family has been enjoying watching the Olympic coverage for the past week. Our Monkey, of course, loves to watch gymnastics and then tries to attempt many of the flips he has seen. I wouldn't be surprised if there is a trip to the emergency room in our immediate future:)
Chipmunk is enjoying basketball, soccer and particularly swimming. He is fascinated by how fast the swimmers are and is talking about joining the swimming team next year. It has been really neat to see Chipmunk cheering on the Russian competitors too. He has always been very interested in Russian history/culture/language and constantly looks at the pictures and video of our trips to Russia when meeting him and picking him up. He is so proud of his Russian background and we are always trying to encourage his interest in learning more about country where he was born. It has been wonderful for him to get the chance to watch and cheer for "his teams", as he calls both the Russia and US competitors. We also been thrilled to cheer for the small group of athletes from Kyrgyzstan. While there are only a few athletes from this country (and they compete in events that haven't been broadcast), two of them have won medals.
While Chipmunk has been feeling such pride in his Russian heritage, he has also started to understand that not everyone shares his enthusiasm. Over the past week Chipmunk has overheard many comments about Russia's conflict with Georgia. He first heard about it on NPR; the boys never pay attention to news radio but I guess he heard the word Russia and his ears perked up. He was concerned because he thought they were invading Georgia in the US, where one of his favorite aunts and cousins live. I gave him a brief synopsis of what was happening and he didn't question it further. Since then, however, we have had two different incidents where some adults have been discussing it and been very critical of the Russians. It is one thing to have an educated discussion about what is happening in eastern Europe; it is quite another thing to call all of the Russians "idiots", "bullies", and believe that the Russians need to "be blown off the face of the earth." I know that many people from older generations have a deep dislike of the former Soviet Union. But it makes me sad to see them passing these stereotypes down to the children and grandchildren. We were in the store a few days ago, in the school supply aisle, looking at a world map. If there is a map around, my boys have to find Astrakhan (Russia) and Kyrgyzstan on it. Chipmunk was so happy to be able to find Astrakhan without any help and shouted it a little loud. Another little boy, who couldn't have been more than 8 or 9, told him that Russia is where all the bad people lived. I know I should have tried to correct him but I did not want to get into a debate with a little boy (and his father, who looked really rough around the edges), so I walked away and tried to explain to Chipmunk and Monkey how some people aren't very happy with some things that Russia is doing, but that doesn't mean that the people in Russia were bad or mean. It is such a hard concept for a 5-year-old to understand. I know I can't insulate my boys from the opinions of some of the idiotic, uneducated people that they will face in the world; I can only continue to encourage their love and pride for the Motherland. But I was really hoping for a few more years before they were faced with this type of criticism. Sigh.....
Onto good news, only 46 more days until I leave for HotDog! I am really getting excited now!


Anonymous said...

That is really unfortunate the boys have to deal with at their ages, let them know that we have been cheering for Team Russia also at our house!

The Deveralls

Hannah said...

Hi, I just stumbled across your blog today. We have a son from Russia also and even though he is 10 he too thought Russia was invading Georgia in the US.

Our son still struggles with swinging between his pride in Russia. He tells us a lot that he is glad he was born in Russia but even happier to live in America.

Your children are beautiful. Have a safe trip to get your daughter.


Rachel said...

I've definitely had a softer spot for the Russians this time around in the Olympics than ever before. I also loved watching the US gymnast Alexander (they call him Sasha) and Nastia Luken. Russian parents but they are Americans.

I was proud of the wrestling medals too :) I cheer a little louder for the Kyrgyz since they are such underdogs.

Sorry the kids are having to deal with this now. I'm sure our days aren't too far away.

Jamie said...

Wow, how awful...we havent had to face anything like that yet. I think you handled it well, though

I was wondering if Kyrgyzstan was in the olypics...I keep meaning to go online and check.

Our Kyrgyzstan journey... said...

I've been following your blog for a while now, but not sure if I've posted here before or not. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know how happy I am for you and your family that you will be reunited with your little hotdog soon! Also if you're interested, I have a new blog at

Jeanne said...

It's sad that your son had to hear the negative comments about Russians, and I hope it won't dampen his pride.

Margaret and Tom said...

46 days! Under 50! I can't wait to see those pictures :)

Carey and Norman said...

Sorry to hear that your son has heard others say rude comments about the Russians. We were going to put our son in his Russian shirt for Red day a week ago and thought it best not to do so with all that is going on in Georgia. Even though most wouldn't think anything of it, we were afraid someone might say something. Luckily, our daughter would probably not understand, but we didn't want to take the chance.

So glad your countdown has begun!! Yippee!!