Thursday, 16 August 2012

Who Do You Think You Are?

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A few things have made me think recently (unusual, I know).  The Olympics, the Jubilee, and conversations with a few friends have got me thinking about identity, and sense of self.  And how will Squeaky self-identify as she gets older.

We live in Wales.  Squeaky was born in Wales, she has a bilingual birth certificate, and unless we move across the border in the next year (very unlikely, I'm not moving EVER again!), she'll be educated in both English & Welsh.  But she's not Welsh.  Friends have said she's Welsh, because she was born in Wales.  My answer to that, "Jesus was born in a stable, does that make him a donkey?"

Squeaky's Daddy & I were both born in England.  Not all that far apart, as it turns out.  Our parents were all born in England, and when the Six Nations rugby rolls around, I support the team in white (and remind people which team has won a world cup, and which teams haven't).  But have a look at my Flag tags post, and you'll see I'm supporting the Czech Republic, rather than Team GB.  My paternal grandfather was Czech, and until I married, I had a Czech surname.  If I have the option on a survey, I tick European, rather than British.

To be honest, growing up my surname caused me more trouble than I'd care to admit.  When it came to choosing Squeaky's name, I wanted one that she wouldn't have to spell, having spent 29 years spelling my surname, correcting pronunciation, and responding to "errrr, Miss, errrrrrr".   I was actually quite relieved in many respects to have the opportunity to change my name when I got married.  And I chose to do so, I wasn't expected to, or coerced into it by anybody, it was a choice I made on my own.  But since doing so, I actually feel closer to the Czech side of my heritage than I ever did with a Czech name.  The only time my name ever gave me a positive advantage was in going through customs in Prague, when my English named husband and friends had the third degree from scary customs officials, yet they saw my name & waved me through with a smile.

So, what will Squeaky grow up to be?  Will she see herself as Welsh? As English?  As British? As European?  Right now, she thinks she's a princess!

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