My mixed race family, tea and salsa

Whenever I’m faced with an ethnicity monitoring section on a form it makes me think about the racial mix of my family. My husband is from Ecuador, South America so our three children are a 50/50 combination of Latino and British. Ethnicity forms don’t have a label that really works. My husband is always annoyed that he has to go in a catch all “Other” category. I usually look for “Other Mixed” to describe the kids which is also unsatisfyingly vague.

Asides from form dilemmas I love that our family is a blend of two very different cultures. It adds another different dimension to our day to day life. I think I’m quite typically English and my husband is 100% Latino, even after living here for over 10 years. We celebrate some Ecuadorian customs as well as British ones. A massive bonus for me is that Mother’s Day is on a different date in Ecuador so I get to feel the love twice a year. We make año nuevos every New Year’s Eve. These are figures or models that represent the good or bad in passing year. In Ecuador they are displayed in the street before being burnt in the street at midnight. We burn ours on the bbq at midnight in our back garden. If we have friends around they get roped in too. We celebrate coming to the UK day. This is the anniversary of Rolando arrival here on a snowy February day with not so much as a coat.

Our meals start with a buen provecho (similar to the French Bon appetite). Rolando makes chifles (fried plantain chips) which the kids love. We drink avocado milk shake (which sounds disgusting but is weirdly delicious). Rolando makes ceviche for his lunch. Me and the kids draw the line at eating his concoctions involving offal and peanut cream.

We have an indoor hammock in our hallway (very Ecuadorian although there it would be outside in the sunshine). It’s very handy for rocking poorly children or chilling out after a stressful day. Rolando plays salsa music and eighties Latino pop music and tries to instil Latin rhythm into the kids. We dance salsa in the kitchen.

Being bilingual is really important to us. Rolando speaks Spanish to the kids as much as possible. I stick to speaking English although I do understand everything that Rolando is saying. We decided that keeping the two languages separate is less confusing. The kids watch the Latino versions of Disney clips on YouTube videos and can sing along to the songs in Spanish. Sofia understands a lot of Spanish and can speak quite well with a bit of prompting. She corrects me on my less than perfect pronunciation. Sam and Leo currently speak very cute Spanglish.

There are some culture clashes to work through. It adds an extra dimension to making decisions about how we raise the kids when our experience of childhood were completely different. Discipline is particularly different – Rolando is more traditional than I am. We have had a few discussions about how strict we should be and around rewards versus punishment. The education system is very different here so I sometimes need to explain how things work to Rolando.

We are very lucky to have some good friends who are also Anglo-Ecuadorian couples. Between us we now have a tribe of beautiful blended children. It’s nice to know people who have backgrounds and experiences in common and we have the best get togethers!

Does your family life blend two different cultures? How does it work for you?

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9 thoughts on “My mixed race family, tea and salsa

  1. I grew up in a mixed race family – My Mum English through & through, & my Dad Ukrainian. I loved the culture mix, but was always annoyed I wasn’t brought up bi-lingual. Dad was so keen to learn English & to integrate, & my parents always said it would confuse me. I know from others in the community it doesn’t work that way. It’s great your brood are being brought up with both languages!

    1. Thank you Maria – some people (including health professionals) did try to warn us off speaking two languages at home but we decided to do it anyway. I don’t think it had any negative effect on Sofia. The twins are much less verbal in general but I think it’s down to lots of factors, being second/third children, being boys, being twins. They’ll get there in the end.

  2. The only thing I can say is that my Mum is Welsh, my Dad is English and my grandparents are Irish. I don’t think that really counts does it?
    I think it is great that you are bringing the children up bi-lingual and with an appreciation of both cultures. What an education that is. Better than any school could give them. Good for you. #TwinklyTuesday
    Harry’s Honest Mummy recently posted…Define NormalMy Profile

    1. Thank you for your comment, I have some good friends that are Welsh and they have some special Welsh-isms! My dream is to take the kids to Ecuador for an extended period of time. We haven’t been brave enough to take the really long flight with the twins yet.

  3. Love this post as I really identify with your situation.
    I am Spanish and have been living in London for many years, my partner is English and my children, just like yours are 50/50 Latino and British. My kids understand a lot of Spanish but do not speak it properly but I hope we will get there and they will speak it eventually.
    Elena recently posted…Audley End Miniature Railway and Enchanted Fairy WalkMy Profile

    1. Thank you for checking my blog and for your comment. I’m sure it will come with time, it will be filtering into their minds everyday. I think the understanding comes first and then fingers crossed the speaking probably follows.

  4. Thanks for sharing this post. I too have the same problem when it comes to filling out forms. The thing is, if we were in New Zealand there would be an option for pacific island or NZ Maori but not here in the UK, we always have to tick the OTHER box and it’s rather rude! Interesting to know i’m not the only one that feels that way. Thanks for linking up to #PositivelyPosted.

    Angela xx
    Angela at Daysinbed recently posted…Blog Better and Just be YourselfMy Profile

    1. Really annoying how the categories work in the UK, it makes us a bit too different to fit into the form! I know in the USA they have loads of categories for Latin American races but none here – it drives my husband completely crazy.

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