10 May, 2014

Can you be truly Australian, but also love wrestling?

During the week I had an IM chat with a single male friend in Australia. He's a fun guy and we all enjoy spending time with him, especially because he loves boys (he's a lower primary school teacher). 

Just before we finished chatting he had one more thing to say but he wasn't sure how I'd take it. He said, 

Friend: Don't take this personally, it's funny how in myself I get frustrated that your boys are not "Australian" but I understand why!
Me: How?
Friend: They've spent so much time in Japan that the culture of CAJ and living in Japan is really shaping who they are at this point in time.
Friend: I'm not saying you're doing anything wrong.  Please don't think that I just love Australia and want your boys to be Australian too! But seeing them love wrestling, I'm like GUYS WE LOVE CRICKET AND RUGBY HERE!!!!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING!!!! 
Interesting conversation. He was placated that our boys like cricket and loved watching Rugby League when we were last home in 2012 (we went to a State of Origin party, for those of you who know about that).

This was not something I'd thought about before. I've always encouraged my boys to do sport, to be active. I think it is a key part of who a boy is and how he learns to manage himself.

As you know, if you've been reading this blog for a while, I'm a very enthusiastic supporter of our boys doing wrestling as a sport. I've been blown away by the opportunity for our Aussie boys to do something that they more-than-likely wouldn't have had the opportunity to try out in Australia. It does seem so unlikely. 

So my first thought is to defend, "They are fiercely Australian, ask anyone who knows them." 

My second thought is, "They simply don't have the opportunity to be involved in cricket and rugby where they are, so why not encourage them to thrive in their current environment?"

If they want to try out footy and cricket when they have the opportunity in Australia, I will not be standing in their way. Certainly that is what we'll be watching on TV. Certainly, as big cricket fans ourselves, we've not been slack in trying to watch cricket here. Blame those people who hold the purse strings of cricket. They don't seem to want fans in Japan to watch or listen to the games!

A foreign missionary we knew in Australia before we left in 2000 gave us some great advice about settling in another country. She said, "You need to find things to do and enjoy there that you can do here in Australia."

I guess it is about being present where you are, instead of always longing for a place you aren't. We've done our best to do that, in our own way. There will be lots of things we miss about Japan when we return to Australia, but in Australia we will be striving to be present there, enjoying the things that we can do there, but not here.

Certainly our kids are not 100% Aussies. They never will be. Though being Australian is a strong part of their identity, having now spent much more of their lives in Japan than Australia, there is bound to be a mixture.

And part of what we're doing in coming back to Australia for this year is helping them to connect with that Australian part of themselves. It will probably be the last time our eldest son goes there before he graduates from high school and faces moving to Australia more permanently to go to university. So hopefully this 12 months will help them all grow to understand their passport country better.

But for those of you who will spend time with them, their eyes are going to be looking forward—returning to CAJ and Japan will be on their minds. That means that we will be pursuing wrestling, because that will likely be a part of their future when we return to Japan. 

So we have Aussie kids who wrestle. Something of a symbol of the mixed-identy that they'll hold for the rest of their lives.

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