I know I’ve talked about this before, but raising bi-racial children has definitely taught me how to be completely color-blind. But there are challenges. Music and TV are so entangled with remarks that breed racism, I find myself constantly censoring, correcting, and redirecting, but sometimes, well, sometimes, there is some funny stuff that happens around here and we just can’t help it, we have to laugh at ourselves!
For example, two years ago it was Halloween and I got out the old costume box from the storage shed. I just can’t see myself dropping a hundred bucks on new costumes every year to go around and beg for candy, so I buy them here and there at garage sales, resale stores, after Halloween clearance sales, and I throw them in the box. So far it’s worked out pretty well. Trenton was four years old when I set the box in front of him and let him pick first. He went straight for the Superman costume, complete with red cape and plastic mask. He put it on and danced around the house so excited. “Do you know who you are?” I asked him, wondering if he could tell his super heroes apart. “Yep, I’m an old white guy!”
In fairness, Superman has been around for quite a while…
Another time we were talking about what we’re gonna be when we grow up. Jayden said he was gonna grow up to be a white guy, and I told him “you don’t change colors.” And then I gave him my whole speech about how he was the color God made him and he was perfect exactly the way he was. To which he gave me the most confused look I have ever seen and said “Michael Jackson was black and he turned into a white guy!”
Forgive me, I stand corrected. You can change colors.
I get asked a lot of silly questions in a house with so many kids, but this one really cracked me up. Jordan and Jayden are twins, although they are not identical. Jayden is definitely lighter skinned than his siblings. One day Jordan came and sat on my lap while I was blogging. He looked up at a picture of him and his brother when they were born and he said “how come I’m black, but Jayden is a Mexican??”
“Jayden’s not Mexican, he is just like you, Black and White.” I tried to explain, but he said “Jayden’s brown, so he’s a Mexican.”
Press 1 for English, Press 2 for Spanish, Press 3 for “I don’t know what to say here!”
Sometimes they blurt things out in public that can get really embarrassing. When we were on vacation, we were pretty much the biggest family we saw wherever we went. At one hotel, my husband took the kids down to breakfast in shifts so that I could fix hair and get them dressed a few at a time. While at breakfast, they met a big family that had mixed race kids just like ours- some white, some black. They struck up a conversation and the mother shared that she had adopted some of her children from Africa. So, Kailynn, (who knew she was being adopted) shouted out that she too was adopted from Africa. In fact, she went around saying it half the morning. There’s something quite comical about a 3 year old walking around telling people she’s from Africa when really it was her first time to leave Texas!
We’ve dealt with racism in a lot of ways the past few years. Some of it I expected, some of it has come from places I never imagined. At times we’ve weathered online remarks, comments from friends and family members, snubs out in public, but for the most part, we are greeted with kindness. We have an awesome network of grandparents that give us lots of love and support. I think we are truly helping the kids learn to love without looking at the color of skin, and I work really hard to teach them that it doesn’t matter if we’re black or white, we’re all the same on the inside.
Only sometimes, those lessons backfire… Last night I wasn’t feeling well. (Side-note: Can I just ask why in the world do we need stomach viruses? Wouldn’t the world be a much nicer place if there was never ever vomit or diarrhea? I just think we should be able to rid the world of the nuisances at this point…) Kailynn wanted to play with my hair. She loves to brush my hair, so she crawled up behind me, and next thing I know, she had her basket of hair products in hand. Suddenly I realized she was coating my hair with the curl conditioner I buy for her. My baby fine locks don’t exactly soak it up the way her massive curls do. “KK, that’s not made for Mommy’s hair” I tried to tell her, but she counted back “you’re my mommy, we have the same hair.” I felt so sick I gave up the argument and just laid there while she coated strand after strand with ethnic hair products. Did I mention that she has thick beautiful curls that require me to mix about 5 different products to keep them soft and smooth? And she used every single one of them on my limp, baby-fine strands!
3 washes later and I still haven’t rid my hair of all this creamy conditioner. Looks like I haven’t washed my scalp in a week. All these years of teaching them that black and white were the same, and I failed to mention the one and only exception to the rule: HAIR!
On the bright side, my hair is so conditioned right now I probably won’t see a tangle for at least a week!!