The right NOT to choose
I am Lithuanian and I live in-between two countries – Lithuania and Italy. Both countries are my home, no one [anymore] has priority to another one. In Lithuania my first son was born, in Italy another one came to this world. My children are so different each from other, that I cannot tell who they are. I do not know if they are Italians or Lithuanians. They have both – Italian and Lithuanian – names. They have their own styles of behavior, their tastes and preferences are unique and are not based on the national ”characteristics”.
They both are the children of Europe.
They are those Europeans we used to read about in the books fifteen years ago. These children are the goal we all had been striving for many years, while step by step we had been building European Union as it is now. My children already know they are Lithuanians as well as they are Italians.
They are small but they know essential thing in this Life – they simply ARE.
At the moment, they are painting their identities simply being kids. Other identities they will construct while growing. And YES, they notice the differences between the languages, they know their grandparents, aunts and uncles speak different languages. And it is not an obstacle for nice gatherings of the big family.
My kids know their mother’s tongue is Lithuanian as well as father’s language is Italian. And they know those two languages are theirs. They are learning both of them, because it is part of them since they were born. As well as they know – there is a third language in the family – their papà and mamytė (daddy and mummy in Italian and Lithuanian) sometimes speak their language, which is English. It is a ”secret” language, because we speak in English in the moments when we would like this conversation would remain among us only Absolutely, it is very poor English, but it found its room in our family. Please, understand right – all this I am telling not to be proud, but to show that multilingual and cross/multi/inter-cultural reality exists in daily life.
And NO, we will not force our children to choose one language, one country, one culture.
We will NOT force to do anything they cannot or they will be against, just ”because we know better“.
Our parenting is not focused on growing nationalists (or ”patriots” in the bad meaning when priority of some nationality (”mine“) toward another one (”his/ her“) exists). On the opposite,
We grow people.
People who know their roots and love their backgrounds. In the family, we celebrate all national holidays of both countries, children know all important events both in Lithuania and Italy. We do not force and will not do it ever to choose who they are ”more” – more Italians or more Lithuanians.
So I am asking, why do others should do it?
Why should public institutions, official bodies require to a young person to choose? Why a person who was born as citizen of Lithuania, right after turns eighteen, is forced to choose who she/he is – Lithuanian or Italian? In my opinion, this situation is not correct. It is like to choose who is better/ closer/ more loved between mother or father, when a child becomes adult. It is like to choose which identity has right to exist and another one at the certain age must be eliminated / killed.
Our family is not an exception – there are many families like ours. Hundreds of thousands, probably. They live in few countries, they are from different social, cultural and national backgrounds and the mix of these backgrounds became a natural social, cultural and educational environment for their children. It is not some extraordinary situation. It is a social, cultural and political reality. It is a European reality. So I am calling (especially small countries, like Lithuania) to reflect ongoing situation and to make actions ”uploaded” to this reality. Demography is permanently changing, it is never constant, so some laws and rules cannot remain constant as well. Let’s think. Simply let’s rethink if today’s decisions recall the reality and are focused on construction of Tomorrow.
We live in Europe.
WE ARE EUROPEANS.
Do not take away rights from our children.
Our children HAVE RIGHT NOT TO CHOOSE.