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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mixed loyalties

Boris, Skala Marion
Last night Boris was playing by himself, imagining he was at a football match and cheering for France against the Brazilians. We figured that's something he picked up from school, so we decided to ask him some questions.

R: Why do you support France?
B: Because they are so good!
J: But what if France played against Bulgaria, who would you support?
B: Bulgaria, of course! They are better.
J: And if Bulgaria played against Serbia?
B: I would be for Serbia.

So far, so good. He learned a few brownie points there, but I had one more question, out of curiosity.

J: But if France played against Serbia, who would you be for?
B: France!
J: France?! Are you sure???
B: Yes, definitely France! They are so good.

Now, that's typical Boris for you: no permanent loyalties, supporting the side he thinks is better and more likely to win. He is like that when we play games, too. He is always with the parent who is winning and, consequently, mercilessly abandoning the losing parent in the midst of the fight. Sometimes it backfires, and the moment he switches sides the luck changes, too. That can be very frustrating, but so far it hasn't taught him a lesson when it comes to loyalty.

But that whole funny exchange made me think about his identity as well, and how he might feel about it when he is a bit older to start grappling with these issues. He is naturally very adaptive, and I have little doubt that he will integrate seamlessly if we stay in France long enough. But will he feel French, or will France simply be "douce France, cher pays de mon enfance"? Will he feel, the way I do sometimes, that he does not belong anywhere; and will that be a liberating feeling or give him discomfort?