Chinatown Culture shock

Wednesday we had our Chinatown day. I had to spend the money to go into Chinatown on the T anyway, so I figured we would stay there as long as we could. Since it is school vacation week we ran into several groups of children. Square Roots at Castle Square and I believe Red Oak  as well and also some kids who were being watched by nannies, family, or grandparents. I actually recognized a few of them from Noah's time at BCNC, and one child recognized me. He was Noah's classmate but he didn't remember Noah. I think, from childhood to adulthood, I am just easy to remember. There are increasingly a lot of white guys in Chinatown... but I have certain signature characteristics. The sun hat (most guys don't where that) and the back pack. In fact the one time I saw another dad with that outfit on I had a weird feeling as if I was watching myself from a far... and even still he only wears that on his days off, where as in that sense every day is a day off for me.


I could immediately feel that Chinatown culture shock. I mean I don't feel it so much as an adult looking at the adult worlds, because that is the world I am in. But when I saw the children playing with various paper weapons, swords, guns, ninja stars, and the sound makers... that is so Chinatown. In JP the kids make weapons out of sticks. But in Chinatown there aren't enough trees, but printer paper is provided for free. In JP, paper might be provided for free, but what every kid in Chinatown knows how to make basic origami stuff, amazes children from other communities.

So does stacking blocks away Mah Jong style (something I know how to do despite not being able to play Mah Jong. The kids were way more impressed with that than my Kung Fu I think. Perhaps because they could see how it could be applied to their life in school.)

I also saw the way the younger generation treated their grandparents. Now it is a stereotype that Chinese families treat their elderly with respect. But actually, this ends up not being the case in the states. The most hippie families you could think of, whatever the combination of genders or beliefs.. those parents and grandparents command great respect from the child. However, the child in the situation where the grandmother does not speak English... well she will get sassed in English and will just have to take it. A lot of Chinese grew up disciplining with a stick. And they also know they cannot do this here. (some would say in America but actually it has more to do with this State. Also I notice that white people are far more likely to interfere in Asians doing any sort of childcare than they would if the caretakers or parents were white. Anecdotal.. but it's something I've noticed)

In any case, the answer is usually to just let it go. Whereas the more hippie family that wouldn't use the stick has harsh tones or other sorts of punishments or whatever. I never even noticed these differences consciously before. Because before it was all around me. And although my mother was white, she still used a wire hanger. By her standards that was not beating. And by the standards of my peers who were beaten by their fathers with belts (these are not Chinese families but black and Hispanic. The Chinese kids did not talk about this until adulthood..not to me at any rate) In fact, everyone thought I was pretty much off the hook because there was no father in my house and they thought that simply must be a plus.

I think it's important for Noah to be exposed to the Chinatown way as well as the JP way of doing things. It sort of broadens your horizons at a young age.


2