Staying or Leaving Pt. 1 - Silver and Gold
(Ed note: This is the first in a series of blogs based on the question of relocating to Peterborough from Ajax.)
.The other day over coffee, I was asked a question I have heard a fair bit since joining the MCS team in August of this year: "Are you still living in Ajax (though many assume we lived in Scarborough since we pastored there) or will you move to Peterborough?" This has been a question that has plagued our minds as our prayer lives as of late, and actually contributed (along with other stresses that come from a new job) to some physical illness on my part (Wifey, ever cool, remains just that...cool) and some restless moments.
Now the advantages of moving are quite good, from being able to afford a larger home in a great town, to cutting down on a long commute, to being closer to the students with whom we now spend our time at MCS (example: we just had our Christmas Social and while fun and well organized, I couldn't help but miss the students from where we pastored ONLY because we haven't been able to spend time with all of our Master's peeps. That disconnect, while smaller than in September, still bugs me a bit). And at the same token, staying is that much easier. We know our town, our neighbours, our Best Buys, our churches (not that we church hop but we know the local pastors, their vision and their people...plus we are only 20 mins away from good ol' APC) and we love the fact that there are kids who look like Ellie here in the GTA.
Yup, a part of my hesitation to move has been a question of diversity, specifically for my kids. I mean at this point in MY life, I can live with a lack of diversity for myself...I mean I DID attend Master's in Peterborough on my own in 2001 when it was assumed that I would obviously rap and play on the basketball team. I do however worry about it for my kids, Eliana and Liam. The last thing I would ever want would be for them to be called out for being "different" simply because another kid had an observation (I'd also hold myself to NOT judge that kid's parents for breeding ignorance...). And with our kids being mixed (Wifey is lighter than I am), they'll fall in the middle of the spectrum: Too dark for those who are lighter than them & too light for those who are darker (this is a HUGE generalization used for literary affect). And while I am tougher (years of being followed, mocked and insulted will do that to you, I guess), my kids are beautiful soft-hearted innocents who will take those things to heart instead of finding comments to launch back (suddenly my sarcastic demeanour makes a bit more sense, along with my distain for people who mock any culture of any kind. I really don't want my kids to share THAT part of me).
You see, I worry about my kids having to "choose a side". When I first got to MCS, I spoke intentionally with two students who both happen to be of mixed race to ask them about my own concerns. I asked about which culture they identified with more so and while they both would say a more typical "caucasian-Canadian" culture, when around others FROM said culture (or from a afro-canadian/black culture), they would be treated as black. Even as adults, the struggle to "fit in" was and is there. Which means it'll be there for my kids. And that sucks a lot.
So do we stay here in the GTA to live in diversity? Well the other day on the playground at school, Ellie wasn't "allowed" to play with some kids because she wasn't the "right kind of black", which saddened and confused her tremendously. So ignorant people are everywhere, I guess, which makes staying or leaving based on that point irrelevant but worth noting at times.
It also means teaching my kids that some people, even Christian people, don't know how to talk to and see beyond what you look like so pray for good real friends who will do more than love your skin and your hair. Secondly, it means helping them both appreciate both sides of the coin. I never want either of them to be ashamed or embarrassed to be mixed. We want them to appreciate their Scottish and Bajan backgrounds (what a mix: bagpipes and calypso!), and blend them both, like we have as their parents. And lastly, it means teaching the importance of finding their identity in the kingdom rather than their kinfolk or tribes. And that'll be the hard part. It's hard to do that when you're marginalized (along with some many other races, types of people, etc.) but hopefully, it'll be different for my kids than it was for me.
And already, Eliana is proving to be a smart cookie. When she got home after being told she wasn't the right kind of black, she told Wifey that her only worry was for her little brother who might hear that too when he goes to school because, in her words, "He's silver like me, Mommy..."
If that's what she feel and what she sees, then I would rather Silver over Gold everytime.