I grew up with stories of my parent’s childhood in Russia and Central Asia. I knew everything: their games, the names of their pets, what tricks they would play each other, how their houses looked like, what happened on bigger occasions and holidays and what kind of chores they had a various ages. While all of this sounds very familiar and is almost part of my past I have never seen the places where my parents grew up, I never lived under the communist regime, never learned Russian and never had to do farm work. I never had to be afraid to be a Christian or to face ridicule because I am German. I know the stories, but I don’t know the life.
So there is a big gap between my early childhood experiences and memories and those of my parents. We never read the same books or played the same games or experienced similar school days or talked about the same thinks with our friends.
My parents tried their best to be living with us in the German reality. But many things were as new to them in their 30ies as to me as a child.
I guess every MK or TCK or child of immigrants will be able to relate to this. And will have their on little stories to tell.
But I never gave it much of a thought. That’s just how things are. Recently though I was taken aback when I talked to a mother that is only a few years older then I am. I was surprised that I did not only know her children’s teachers (they had been my teachers as well) and the school material but could totally connect to a particular the situation she talked about. I had been there myself, only a few years ago.
What surprised me there was that I had always assumed that if I would have kids one day they would not only grow up in a very different place (country??) but as well in a different environment or culture. Unconsciously I had considered it given that I would never be totally able to relate to them. Isn’t that weird?
My parents have taught me many things and they really did a great job bring me and my 5 siblings up (and still do). But there have been many things I had to teach them as well, because I know the culture, and something’s we were learning along side each other. I believe this has given our relationship at a very early age a different direction. It´s hard to discern if it had a rather positive or negative effect on me, as this is who I am today. But I know for sure it has rather strengthens then weakens my relationship to my parents. The giving and the receiving seem to be more balanced.