If you live outside of NY, DC, MD, VA, or parts of Canada, it may be hard to keep your kids connected to their Caribbean roots. I grew up in a Caribbean home in America with both parents from Trinidad and Tobago. I knew as I got older that my home was very different from other kids homes. I eventually found out that many of the words used in my home were not even “real” words! We lived in the south where, at the time, there was no real Caribbean community. Most people, when they came to the US, came to DC or NY – and stayed there, so if you live in other parts of the country, connecting to a Caribbean community may be more difficult.
By the time my son was three, he had been to SOMEBODY’S Carnival every year from Atlanta to DC (his “diaper wine” is still a favorite family story). When we moved to DC, I was determined to get him connected. I inquired about CAFÉ, but he was too young, so when he was able to join, I am not sure who was more excited.
Here are a few things that I do as a Caribbean American mom to get and keep my kids connected and aware of their Caribbean heritage.
1. We support Caribbean restaurants – and take the kids. There is nothing like my cousins roti, buss up, and curry mango, but if we are away from her, we try to take the kids to try different Caribbean cuisine.
2. We found CAFÉ. There are several steel pan organizations all over the east coast and around the country, but CAFÉ has an educational component with it. There is a competition in Virginia Beach each year on Mother’s Day with many church and school bands. Search Google to see if there is one in your area.
3. We play Caribbean music in the car and the house, and we all dance. If you are like me and are very careful about what the kids listen to, there are several clean (and even Christian) versions of soca, reggae, and calypso songs. Go on Rhapsody or Pandora, and make a child friendly mix-tape.
4. We get Caribbean treats for the kids. Now if you are watching the kids sugar intake, this may be a tough one. The sugar content is very high in some snacks like tamarind balls and sugar cake. We let the kids have a Chubby soda once in a while, and they are allowed to have half one day, and half another day (yes, I know they are tiny drinks, but I can’t have them running all over like crazy people).
5. We show them where they are from on the map in relation to where they live. Kids love to know their place on the planet, and knowing that they are actually tied to more than one place amazes them.
Click here to read the rest of this article over at SocaMom.com.
Republished with permission.
Photos by Eva Greene-Wilson of SocaMom.com
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