Identity Crisis

On route home from school yesterday I asked kids if they knew the words to God Save the Queen (a back seat scrap was brewing; singing offered a distraction). 

What’s that? they asked.  The English national anthem I said. Your national anthem (they were all born in England, and all hold British passports with coveted Right of Abode). 

‘Oh yes’, says Amelia, confidently, ‘I know it’, and proceeds to launch into ‘God save the Queen of England … For she is good and royal …. Blah blah la, la’ Mum and I, sitting in the front, giggle. And then we have a stab. We think we can remember fragmented phrases like ‘send her victorious, noble and glorious’. But we don’t do much better than Amelia. And you can’t blame us: neither of us was born or grew up in England and though Mum has lived there since Dad died, she doesn’t have cause to sing God Save the Queen often. 

I ask the kids if they know the Tanzanian national anthem.  They do. And all three launch into it loudly and with alacrity, belting it out in Kiswahili.   It is on occasions such as this that I am reminded of the identify crisis my children face: born in England, to an Irish/Scottish mum who was raised in Africa by Indian born, Irish extraction mother and African born father of Scottish origin who never visited Scotland in his life, and a dad whose mother was born to English parents in a nomadic village in the Belgian Congo. Only their paternal grandfather was a real Englishman. I suppose it is this confusion that has persuaded Amelia she is Australian and explains why Ben has assumed a South African identity?

4 Responses to “Identity Crisis”

  1. The Good Woman Says:

    Oh, I have met so many children with this confusion! My little Bambi holds Irish and SA passports but speaks with a Scottish accent and has never been to Ireland. At this stage she really couldn’t give a toss. She travels. People love her. Good – oh!

    Doesn’t sound like your two are too concerned either. My Good Man was an RAF child and grew up with little sense of ‘home’. He eventually chose South Africa. It’s a weird way to be but it’s quite cool to have an unfettered approach to home.

  2. Gillian Says:

    Australian? What a good choice!

    When she wants to visit, we’ve got a spare bedroom in Sydney that she is welcome to camp in for a month or two.

  3. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Good Woman – good to know there are others with same. And I like the idea of having unfettered approach to ‘home’, oddly reassuring.

    Gillian – thank you! Just don’t go lingerie shopping with her!

  4. Equiano Says:

    What a fabulous melange of cultures! You are who you think you are, is my theory, and home is wherever you are. Otherwise, homesickness sets in, which is a rather pointless preoccupation in my experience.

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