Friday, November 5, 2010

It's All Greek To Me!

Shortly after Gus first moved in with us, I started worrying if it was fair to raise him with Greek traditions. He is, after all, very likely not biologically Greek.

I shared my concerns with my dear friend and "work wife" Teresa, herself an Indian-American, balancing two cultures in her own home. She simply reminded me I didn't have much of a choice because it was, after all, all I knew. (In retrospect, I should never have confessed to her that I was well into my 30s before I learned that "corn beef" was not beef smothered in corn...)

She was right of course. What else do I know? So the first night each of the boys slept in our home, I placed a plate of sweets in the room in hopes the Fates would write a favorable fortune on their foreheads; there are blue "mati" (glass eyes) hanging on their doors to protect them from the Evil Eye; they both think my spanikopita is better than the one you get at the Greek Souvlaki (about which the owner of that fine chain says, "As it should be!") There's no doubt about it, my kids live in a "Greek house."

The other night at dinner, Gus announced he wanted to wear a Greek costume in the upcoming school program to show his Greek heritage. Now I never know if it really bothers Kelly or if he's just messing around, but he did try to convince Gus that he is, after all, not Greek. Gus' response was brilliant, "Daddy's Greek, I go to a Greek school, I'm learning to speak Greek, I go to a Greek church. How am I not Greek?"

Any hopes of Kelly's logic working were lost the night of the program. At first we watched with pride as both boys participated in the Saint Sophia Hellenic Orthodox School's Oxi(pro: Ohee) Night Celebration brilliantly. Then we watched with dropped jaws! There Gus was singing the Greek national Greek! There he was dancing a traditional folk dance with enthusiasm. It was brilliant.

Niko's role was far less prominent, but nonetheless equally brilliant.

Oh, and in case there's any doubt, like his dad before him, Gus may be Greek identified, but he has cultural boundaries. When we explained that a traditional Greek male costume was a "foustanella" - a 400-pleat knee-length "skirt" - he dropped his voice an octave or two and said, "I won't wear a dress!"