Letter to my Canadian Born Child


bebe1Three months ago you were born in in one of the best birthing units in one of the best countries in the world: Canada.
I arrived in this country from the magical land of Colombia with my parents when I was eleven years old. I had to learn English from scratch and struggled to lose my accent to the point that today it is barely detectable if I make a conscious effort. You will speak English and Spanish from the getgo, even if initially you get the two languages mixed up. You will never know what the inside of an ESL classroom looks like or experience the pain of being bullied because you are a foreigner.
You will learn that there is no breakfast without an arepa and you will sit on your abuelo’s lap and listen to his stories of growing up in a small Andean city during a time of violent mobs and political turmoil, things you will gladly never experience or even fully understand.
I will not threaten you with “El Coco” so that you go to sleep; I will probably just buy you a night light and tell you everything will be fine.
During Christmas season, you may belt out “El Burrito Sabanero” along with the Carols you will learn at school.
You may never experience the exhilaration of watching a small home-made hot air balloon rise up into the air on Christmas eve as the crowd yells “globo, globo!” or what it feels like to burn an año viejo scarecrow dressed up in old tatters on the street in at midnight on New Years as “Yo no olvido el Año Viejo” is blasting out from a neighborhood window along with the heavenly smell of fresh natilla.
I will not yank out your first loose tooth by tying one end of a string to it and the other end to the door knob as I joyfully experienced when my milk teeth decided to retire, and it will be the tooth airy (not Raton Perez, yes he has a last name) that will leave you money under your pillow.
You will never, as I did, experience destitute hungry children ringing your doorbell begging for spare change and scraps, but I will make sure you understand that many kids around the world don’t have the luxuries you do and that there is a real world full of pain, fear, hope and happiness beyond the video game console.
You will know your extended family back home, because they have been following you on social media since you were born. You will dance; you will have ‘tumbao’ because I have been swaying to Latin music since I had you in my womb.
Hopefully, you will also sit in front of the TV with a knot in your little throat when the Colombian soccer national team scores their next Worldcup goal in 2018.
Most importantly, you will be you. My son. A second generation Latino. You will have the best of both worlds.

* Colombian writer based in Canada.

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