There are many different things about Romanian culture. As a whole, Romanians are much more reserved than we are – they can always pick Americans out of a crowd because of how loud they’re being.
In spite of this, though, Romanians love giving and receiving gifts – which is great, because so do I! I love walking into the orphanage to find delicious treats and garden produce made for me by one of the sweet nurses.
The thing that I like the most culturally that I’ve seen so far, though, is the emphasis placed on fathers. I see fathers everywhere, holding their kids, pushing their strollers, laughing with them. And the same is true of grandfathers. I saw one on the bus with his little granddaughter the other day. He kept smiling down fondly at her while she chattered.
In America, I think this emphasis can be overlooked in some cases because nurturing is not seen as “manly,” and sometimes that stereotype can be pretty rigid.
As I play with and care for my kids, I realize just how blessed and lucky I’ve been to have both a mother and father who are involved in my life and love me boundlessly. For as long as I can remember, they made taking care of us a partnership, not a one-person job. They always cooked together in the kitchen and cleaning the house was always a family affair (though I could have done without that togetherness).
One of the most important roles my father has had in my life is as a teacher. He taught us all our colors with M&Ms-if we named it correctly, we could eat it. This also probably explains my insatiable sweet tooth, but I’m not complaining.
He always took us with him to cultural and educational events when my mother was busy or he thought it would be good for us. I don’t remember having a babysitter a whole lot. I sat in on master’s classes, mayor’s cultural committee meetings, and presentations by Native American shamans. My father always explained to us what was happening if we had a question. He never talked down to us.
One of my fondest memories is of when I was a little girl. My sister, Kiana, and I used to share a room. I was on the top bunk and she was on the bottom. Dad would come in every night and sit on the floor and talk to us about our days. Or he would read to us-we got through the entire Little House on the Prairie series in a year. This, despite the fact that he was usually working at least two jobs to make ends meet. He was never too busy.
I look at the little boys I tend at the group home, and I wish they had that in their lives. They have wonderful, angel women to care for them, but they haven’t felt that special joy that comes when you have a great dad. It’s bittersweet to wish that they will get adopted, because that means I don’t get to see them again, but I still do, because I want them to have a family.
I wouldn’t trade this experience I’m having for the world. I’m growing so much as a person. But every time something wonderful happens (which is often), I can’t help but wish my family were here to share it with me. I’m counting down the days until I can see them all again. And yet, I know how much I’ll miss the kids at the orphanage. I can only hope that what I’m doing is enough to help just a little.