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January 5th, 2009

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“Hospitality is making your guests feel at home, even if you wish they were.”

With Guy’s brother visiting, I have discovered that while I may be successful at working and living in cross-cultural environments, cross-cultural hospitality is not something I am neither good at or terribly interested in. My brother-in-law is very laid back and quite undemanding. However, making him feel at home means serving him dutifully and making sure that he doesn’t have to ask for anything. This is the treatment African men are used to.

I don’t do dutiful service, and I don’t like the people in my house being subjected to that expectation, either. It irks the hell out of me to watch the dynamic of girls serve/men are served in my own home. I readily admit that we are unintentionally contributing to this by employing two women to cook, clean, and take care of the kids. They serve us, but it’s not out of duty. They get paid to do so. But in the family context, things are different. Guy and I need to talk about this ‘cause I’m going to have to talk about it with Maeve and Kieran. They have asked several times recently why Daddy doesn’t ___________ (fill in the blank: cook, do dishes, do homework, etc.) I want them to be respectful of their diverse heritage, but damn if I am going to raise kids who are limited by old-fashioned beliefs about what men and women do. Ugh.

I’m not so worried about Maeve. I can’t get the girl to focus on doing anything, and even when I do, she pretty much does it only if she wants to. A quiet defiant streak is definitely in her blood. Kieran has begun articulating that girls and boys are different in a way that implies that boys are "better," but this is normal. I'm still confident that he’ll always be a sweet teddy bear who’s always ready to help and say the right thing to make everyone feel better.
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