Saturday we did our 4th annual day trip to Philly for the Celebration of African Cultures at the Penn Museum. This year we added a new twist: we went in early enough so that we had plenty of time to go out to lunch for an amazing Ethiopian feast before heading over to the event. It was an “All Africa” day— and it was a major highlight for all of us to get to go out for – as Kyle and Owen kept calling it – “African Food” for lunch. (And my oh my was it ever delicious!!! The folks at the tiny Ethiopian restaurant where we ate treated us like royalty, cooking us up a huge spread of food and then delighting in our obvious delight in it. There is really nothing like watching little kids gobble up your food and then tell you that they “LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!”… Kyle and Owen are really good at that!)
Right now Kyle and Owen are really into the idea that their “ancestors” are from Africa. They talk about their “ancestors” a lot (Kyle especially seems particularly interested, and particularly in love with using the word “ancestors”). They talk about how they have “ancestors from two places: Haiti and Africa,” about how their “ancestors are the African people and the Haitian people,” about how they have “different ancestors than Mommy and Papi and Meera’s ancestors.” While we were eating lunch Kyle kept saying things to Braydon, Meera, and I such as, “Do you guys like our food?” and “Papi, you just love the food of me and Owen’s people, don’t you!?” and “Meera, this is me and Owen’s food from our people— your ancestors have different food.” Etc. (Owen was way too busy stuffing heavenly morsels of lamb and beef into his mouth to be concerned with such conversation!) At age six, they are now beginning to understand the basic lineage of their Haitian/French West Indian/Caribbean/African/West African descent. And they are clarifying who they are in the context of others who are similar to, and different from, them. It is amazing to watch their understanding unfold, and to see them really beginning to form their own identities as young black Haitian-American boys. And while it is fascinating (and amazing) to witness so intimately and closely, I am always mindful that this is a lot of hard work for them to do (and, in all honesty, a lot of hard work for us to try to guide them as best we can along their paths of identity development.) Our annual day at the Celebration of African Cultures has become such an important tradition for our family— not just for Kyle and Owen, but for all five of us.