10 ways I can tell that my daughter is truly Mexican!

Around this time last year I wrote a post about the Mexican Independence celebrations at the school where I work, which you can read here.

So the patriotic month of September is upon us again.  It always strikes me how important these celebrations are - for the whole month flags are everywhere and images of the heroes of independence are instantly recognisable.  For this week's flag ceremony, one kindergarten class dressed up as various heroes of Mexican independence (they looked so adorable in early 19th century costumes!)  Children are brought up with patriotism flowing through their veins, or so it seems.

I am the only outsider here; my daughter is half-British and half-Mexican, although I wonder if her Mexican side is stronger, since she is growing up in Mexico and has so far never been to the UK.

Here are a few ways - some significant, some less so - in which Emma already shows her "Mexicanness"...

10 ways I can tell that my daughter is truly Mexican
Emma this time last year in her Mexican dress and with her Mexican doll.

1.  First, Emma has a Mexican birth certificate, of course, since she was born right here in Mexico.  So that makes it official.

2.  Like all Mexican girls, Emma has her ears pierced.  However, we were at odds with the standard practice of getting baby girls' ears pierced almost immediately after they're born as we hadn't got around to buying her earrings at that point.  We went back to the hospital and had her ears pierced when she was a month old.  I didn't get mine done till I was 21!

3.  She is at the stage when she's saying her first words - some in English, some in Spanish; so far, so bilingual.  Among her first words are a couple of fruits; "ba" for banana and "pa" for papaya.  I don't think many British toddlers have the word papaya in their vocabulary!

4.  What does she want to listen to on her grandma's CD player? "Ki-ki" of course... In other words, Cri-Cri, "the Singing Cricket", a true Mexican institution, who composed and performed songs for children in the days before TV and is still very popular.

5.  The other day as we sat splashing our feet in the pool, I couldn't help noticing how tanned Emma's little legs were compared to my pale and pasty legs!  It's all this exposure to the sun, despite using high-factor sunblock.  This is something parents in Britain have to worry about only occasionally and when they go on holiday abroad; here I need to think about it most days.

And the future: these things are still to come, but I can be pretty sure they will come...

6. Waking up early- Students in Mexico usually have to get up very early as schools start between 7 and 8 in the morning.

7. Eating chilli powder straight from the container- even preschoolers.  Maybe especially preschoolers!  The chilli powder is actually for sprinkling on your fruit, but I see so many little kids just eating it on its own.  Sweets with chilli are also really popular here as is a sweet chilli sauce called chamoy.

8. Learning the national anthem and singing it every flag ceremony, saluting the flag and maybe even marching in the honour guard with the Mexican flag.  In most schools I think this happens once a week.  Even in kindergarten - imagine how cute three- and four-year-olds look marching in the honour guard!

9. Spending three years in kindergarten then starting primary school at 6 years old.  In fact, only two years of kindergarten are compulsory.  Secondary school then starts at 12 years old for three years, then high school for another three years.

10. Getting presents from Santa at Christmas, then more presents from the Three Kings on January 6th.  Lucky!  This is what happens when traditions from two cultures merge, or maybe it's a symptom of globalisation.  All I know is that I'm going to be saving up all year for the Christmas holidays!

After writing this list, I'm starting to wonder what I can do to encourage Emma's British side - if I had to make a similar list, I don't think I'd be able to think of more than a couple of things.  Will she be English in name only, without really feeling any sense of belonging to the culture?  So that's a challenge for another post: "10 ways I can make my daughter more British!"  Any suggestions?
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  1. Loved reading about your adventures as a family an cultural impact on your daughter growing up in Mexico. Your daughter is gorgeous with those little gold balls! Getting your ears pierced at a month reminded me of having my daughter in Costa Rica. All baby girls had their ears pierced at 2 days old unless you told them not to do it. However, I forgot to tell them an when they brought her to me, she was asleep an already had cute little gold studs in each ear. Have to admit she looked precious and I loved how she looked, so we left them in and everyone knows she is a little girl.

    Actually think now this is the best time to do them. You were a smart mommy getting her ears pierced early even though you were conflicted doing it early since yours were done as an adult.

    Having a baby girl, would I do it again? Well, I'm expecting again and if it is a little girl, I think it is a girls "right of passage" and will do it in the hospital if allowed. It celebrates their femaleness and femininity. There is nothing cuter than a baby girl with little sparkle in her ears except one with little pearl studs looking soO ingénue and like a little cherub.


    1. It's funny, these little cultural differences. I think initially I was worried that getting her ears pierced so tiny would hurt a lot and that she would suffer, then what if she started pulling on her own earrings and hurt herself? In reality none of that happened. When her ears were pierced, she cried for two seconds then she was fine! I think if we hadn't done it we would constantly be having to justify and explain to other people why our baby girl doesn't wear earrings!
      Thanks for your comment!

  2. Oh my Emma is such a cutie, really adorable. Wonderful blog :)


  3. Great post!!! I love the idea of little teeny kids knowing the national anthem, I'm pretty sure most British kids that age don't know theirs!! I remember chilli sweets being everywhere in Mexico you have just reminded me of those, yummy!!! The ear piercing thing is a tough one to decide I'm sure, but add cultural expectations into it and makes it even tougher!
    Emma is such a cutie!!
    Thanks for linking up for #myexpatfamily x

    1. I now know more of the Mexican national anthem than my own, just from hearing it so often! Those chilli sweets are quite a shock to the taste buds if you're not used to them, it still amazes me how even kids as young as three or four love them!
      Thanks for hosting!

  4. Such a lovely post - your daughter is adorable! I think I would have such a hard time making a decision about something like earrings but I bet it was really interesting to learn more about it as you made a decision for your own child in regards to it (and not just something you see on others and maybe don't know the history/cultural significance). I am also so jealous she's bilingual! What a fabulous start to life, being raised with 2 languages. I'm also an expat, but an American living in the UK. The only language differences are deciding to use a U or Z for some words and hilariously awkward exchanges when using the word fanny! #TwinklyTuesday

    1. Yes, the word fanny is probably best avoided in the UK! Thanks for your comment!

  5. I absolutely loved reading this. What an incredible gift Emma has been given. To be able to immerse her in a culture different to your own. Keep doing what you're doing, I really enjoy reading your posts.
    PS Enjoy that sun. Its pouring down today here in the north of England.

    1. We've had our fair share of rain too! Thanks for your lovely comment, I'm glad you enjoyed the post!

  6. Wow interesting read. Does the ear piercing have a cultural significance? Can't believe kids eat neat chilli powder! Thanks for linking to #TheList x

    1. Yes, there is a cultural significance attached to ear piercing for baby girls. It's considered an important part of their femininity and distinguishes a baby girl from a baby boy. It's the norm in all Latin American countries and Spain.
      The chilli powder kids eat neat is especially for sprinkling on fruit. It's not that hot, just a little, and is mixed with salt and dehydrated lime - I think the appeal is in the mixture of acidity, saltiness and heat!

  7. It all sounds so fantastic! Love the idea of the chilli powder on fruit too, here it's usually cinnamon on apples! My two have now lived outside the UK for longer than they lived in it. They are fiercely proud of their English heritage though, even though I don't really encourage that side of things. I think they just feel that they belong there... #myexpatfamily

  8. It's really interesting to read this and learn more about bringing up children in Mexico. That is a seriously early start for school though...even I'd struggle with that! Thanks so much for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

  9. This is such a cute post, and very interesting too. My son has a mixed heritage and we have just moved to Sweden, which none of us have any ties to! I do wonder what his sense of identity will end up being and how I can make sure he understands mine and his dad's culture too. I haven't got it figured out yet, so I look forward to reading your future post on this topic!