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Root, Root, Rooting for the Home Team, Augmented

June 16, 2018



With rare raindrops wetting the Arizona desert outside, my Peruvian spouse of 30 years and I have just finished watching the Peru vs. Denmark World Cup soccer game on a Spanish-language cable network.  Our two “mixed” children, separately thousands of miles away in the eastern U.S., shared it with us via Spanglish text shout-outs in a WhatsApp “Family” group we’ve set up for the four of us.  It was a fun bit of family bonding, the likes of which we seldom get to enjoy now that our babies have matured into faraway, busy 20-somethings.

   A little bit of Peru in Arizona

Our daughter saw the game in a Peruvian restaurant owned by the parents of a friend in Washington D.C., shouting herself hoarse surrounded by fellow fans of the red and white.  She’s been sending us excited messages in support of the team for weeks.  Even our relatively less-communicative eldest was fully engaged, blasting emoji-filled rants after each action of note.  Intriguingly, just as the game was set to begin, he sent a picture of himself and an unidentified girl decked out in Peru jerseys over the caption “Ready for the game!”  Would this be the woman he has hinted about dating over the last couple months but has otherwise shared nothing of?   As I type, I hear my wife and daughter reassuring each other over the phone that, even in losing 1-0, the muchachos played well and still have the heart and the skill to make it out of their group, although that now likely requires a win over France and the three points that go with it this upcoming Thursday.

Even as they grew up sporting U.S. passports, we’ve always made an effort to ensure our kids also felt a connection to their more hot-blooded halves.  They each spoke Spanish before they spoke English – although really only by a few weeks thanks to Barney the purple dinosaur – and are fully bilingual, wonderfully able to converse fluently with monolingual grandparents, aunts, uncles, and extended kin on both sides.  While their mom and I have always mainly spoken Spanish to each other at home, by school age each of our pair had independently drawn a notional line in the sand, deeming it unbearably uncomfortable to either speak to Mami in English or to Dad in Spanish.

     Ours at left and right

Besides the occasional trip down to Peru to visit family when they were little, my work life also allowed them a three-year stint living in and experiencing their maternal homeland during an important chunk of their individual pre-teen ripenings.  Their mom, an incredible home-schooled cook, has always served us superb Peruvian fare, but living in Peru gave them the opportunity to expand their love for that globally-praised cuisine to include street food and lesser-known regional delicacies that they still seek out.  Between family vacations and school-sponsored trips, they gained robust familiarity with the country’s arid coast, lush jungles, and especially the fertile mountain valleys and towering Andean ranges whence spring the indigenous side of their greater American ancestral legacies.

   Abuelita Tani, ca. 2004

Happily, the legacy they inherited was not solely historical.  Each of them as infants had received the personal blessing of their maternal great-grandmother, Abuelita Tani, but living in Peru at an age when they could value it also permitted them to etch into their memories the joy of holding her soft hands and partaking of her mountain-grown wisdom and stories prior to her passing.  Someday, when they’re settled and maybe even raising offspring of their own, I’ll hope to reinforce those remembrances by passing along copies of the 1991 audio recordings I made of La Abuelita sharing some of her life story.

Our kids have been dipped in the culture of Peru as well, both as spectators and as participants.  They regularly heard Peruvian music at home and on the amateur stage, clapped as their kin danced huaynos at family gatherings, and heard both Happy Birthday and Cumpleaños Felices sung as they celebrated each birthday.  As seen in the videos embedded below, our boy surprised us one Father’s Day strumming some Andean guitar rhythms while his music teacher played the quena, or traditional Andean flute.  Likewise, our little girl melted our hearts in performances of traditional dances, such as the marinera norteña (seen below), and zamacueca.






From where I sit, there is great goodness in my kids’ ability to just as joyously hacer bulla for “their” Peruvian national team during this World Cup as they did when cheering on “their” championship U.S. national team in the Women’s World Cup in 2015.  At a time when division and insularity seem to have the momentum, I could not be happier for the divided allegiances, or better yet the augmented allegiances of my progeny.  Of course, it’s also nice that having two home teams gives us a better shot at being able to actually pull for our own against the world every four years…

¡¡Arriba Peru!!

Give them Lace Blooz hell!!

¡¡Sí se puede!!

From → Family

  1. When I was a kid, my parents would sometimes have ‘slide nights’ where packs of colour transparencies were dealt through the projector for the entertainment of grandparents and children. Sometimes they were inflicted on family friends too.
    Later came 8mm movies; jerky, often disjointed, and soundtracked only by the clatter of the film through the sprockets.
    This wonderfully intimate post evoked those evenings, memories tinted with colours leeched by time. Thank you for inviting me (us) into your virtual lounge room. Proud Dad movies indeed.

    As for the soccer, though not family nor connected to either american continent, I’d be more than happy to join in the WhatsApp banter when Peru plays Australia on June 26.

    And cannot sign off without expressing appreciation of ‘augmented allegiances’. I guess we have that too – Aus/UK – but at the age of 13 the boy is much more interested in teasing his English mother than living out the benefits of dual citizenship.

    • Thanks for the willingness to endure the slideshow, VC. I wondered if I shouldn’t mention Simon and Garfunkel or review the Dream Theater song “Under Peruvian Skies” as an aside to hide the vacation-slides reality of the post, but then I remembered that the audience I was worried about maintaining doesn’t actually exist and so just embraced the schmaltz.

      Re the game on the 26th, I just hope it matters. If you all Socceroos were able to exact some revenge for us against the Danes, we’d certainly seek to do you a solid in return re the French.

      And nice to note how we are both selflessly doing our bit to unite the peoples of the world as one!

      • There is no doubt at all that the world needs much more loving schmaltz. Probably the World Cup too.

        Personally I really appreciated the utter overlooking of S and G. The version you posted was infinitely more engaging.

        Group hug time?

  2. Sorry to only comment after Peru’s downfall. I’m a bit agnostic when it comes to football, but the US beat Scotland at the weekend in my beloved oval ball game, I see.

    I have worked with two Peruvian guys over the years, who believe it or not are the only South Americans I have ever met. So I was supporting them too.

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