Why Harmony Day Is Important To Me, A Mum Of Bi-Racial Kids

  • Parents Only

By: Grace Titioka, ellaslist 

Growing up as a migrant kid in Australia during the mid 70’s wasn’t without its cultural and social challenges.

Coming over from the tropics of Indonesia straight into the dead of an isolating Canberra winter I’m sure my parents panicked, thinking they had made the biggest mistake of their lives. No family, no friends and completely alien to cold weather, we dragged my parents’ mattress into the lounge room to sleep side by side, using each other’s body warmth from freezing our buns off. Fun times.

Then there was the frightening experience of starting at a new school where no one looked like me, let alone spoke the same language.

Kids will be kids, always keen to spot out another’s differences. Whether it’s done out of ill-intent or just simply making an observation, quite often it can lead to an element of exclusion; leaving a kid feeling ashamed of where they’re from. Wishing they just looked like everyone else. Or at least, had their mum just make normal vegemite sambos for lunch instead of stinky fried noodles.

Kids will be kids and more often than not, will desperately just want to fit in; to be accepted despite their background or appearance.

Grace with her husband Euan and twin boys, Noah and Kalani.

Today I’m a mum raising twin boys who are bi-racial. I try my best to remind them how awesome it is to eat their grandma’s special beef rendang, how not everyone gets to eat such exotic food. I show how beautifully intricate and unique the patterns are on their batik shirts.  Then there are the days when I hope they’ll thank me one day for trying to teach them some Bahasa.

But kids will be kids and whatever their parents try to teach them is best left ignored.

As a mum who embraces a multi-cultural Australia for her children, Harmony Day is a special day where I can take faith that my community is helping spread the important message of cultural diversity and inclusion.

That there’s one day they wear orange to school because it’s the colour that symbolises communication and meaningful conversation.

Being a little brown kid growing up in Australia I saw a lot of racist bullying and teasing in the playground.  There were lots of tears and questioning why I got stuck with being the odd one out. But Harmony Day gives me hope that Australia’s changing and how it was for me, doesn’t have to be the same way for my children.