I have more than one family. Let me tell you a bit about them.
First of all there is my biological family, of course. My parents and my siblings are nice people, though not exactly mainstream and sometimes a little bit crazy. A house full of musical instruments and theological books. One of my siblings studies mathematics, another one works as a laboratory assistant, and one loves video editing. I see them only two or three times each year (my siblings sometimes even less often) and we’re not exactly a bunch of best buddies, but I know that they’ll always provide me with a place to sleep for some nights when needed.
Then, my husband and his family. I won’t tell you a lot about them today, but his grandma makes awesome cake and signs her cards with “your grandma …” even when I’m included in the addressees, enough said.
Next there are the church people. I don’t see all of them as brothers and sisters in the narrow sense (though I maybe should), but some of the young folks are very important to me and it really feels like hanging out with brothers and sisters closer to my age than my biological siblings. In most churches there are some older persons who “adopt” the younger generation and invite us to a big lunch on some Sundays.
After four years at the same university I see that we’re a family of sorts as well. In the academic family there are three or more generations researching, learning together and from each other. There are our academic fathers and mothers, sometimes even retired professors still teaching a class once in a while in a grandfatherly fashion. Doctoral candidates who are either like older siblings or aunts/uncles to look up to, and younger undergraduates we tutor.
Finally, there is the capoeira family. They are the reason I’m writing this post today. What made me think about families today was the way in which a student’s baby girl was welcomed in class. The little one was crawling around between us while warming up, then for a while the instructor was carrying her around and made her meet every person in the group, and later she was on the floor again and provided a welcome distraction on this hot afternoon. For some unknown reason (maybe she liked the cute tortoise print on my shirt?) she crawled towards me while we were doing shoulderstands and decided she wanted to sit in my lap, so when we moved on to the next stretching exercise I picked her up to so she would stop whimpering and did the exercise with her sitting on my belly until she was retrieved by her mother a moment later. When it was time for playing her mom could play in he roda just like everybody else because someone else kept the little miss safe for that time. Capoeira is one big family and in some aspects a lot like the church family. Even when you don’t know all the names and faces they are friendly and helpful most of the time. When we were doing partner exercises today I ended up with a partner who has a higher graduation than the instructor of Friday class – and he was extremely patient and showed me the sequence again and again until I got it right! After class there is almost always someone to joke with or even to do a small mock fight to let off some remaining steam. Need someone to meet you at the train station to find the way to class? Someone willing will be found and greet you with a hug. Progress or a good game? Someone will give you a nod of approval or even a big grin. Doing something wrong? Someone will stop you and give some correcting advise. Trouble which is not your fault? Not too long ago I was playing in our small roda in Wednesday class with our instructor when a visiting student decided to prove himself and buy in with an aggressive kick – before I could figure out what was happening someone was ushering me away from the two fighting guys already so I’d be safe. It didn’t feel like being belittled, because I know I can trust their judgements and that they respect me despite my struggles with basic stuff. They are lovely people with big hearts who’d do a lot to keep their family safe and happy.