Chocolate Pudding? Depends.

Yesterday as I picked Jacob up from school and we were rushing out the door two younger boys said, “Hi, Chocolate”  then a minute later added “pudding”.  I wasn’t able to process what they’d said quickly enough to have a talk with them, but I also know that would have made Jacob very uncomfortable.

I asked him if he knew the boys and he basically said they were just annoying 2nd graders.  We talked about it a bit and I told Jacob and his sister that, just like their older siblings, if they were friends or family and they called each other chocolate and vanilla or Asian and Mexican, as his siblings do, that’d be different.  If they aren’t really friends and these boys just decided that was okay to call him – it’s not.

I’ve sent an e-mail to inform the teachers and let them know I realize these boys likely meant nothing racist by it and wasn’t sure there was much they could do about it, but that I wanted them aware in case they overheard it sometime.  I also let them know that, different place, different person and the response might be much less pleasant than Jacob’s rushed “hi” back to them.

The acceptance of a nickname indicating anything to do with race has everything to do with the relationship between those people.  Those of us with young men of color whose core group of friends are a racial blend know that using names that might be slurs in another setting – just to be clear, not the “N” word, that’s never ok with me – is part of how they show their affection for each other.  Much like young men may slug each other or wrestle each other – it’s just what they do.

They tease each other with racial stereotypes – because they know it’s safe between them to do that and they’ve all had those stereotypes used against them.  Many black men use the “N” word basically in place of the word “brother”.  As an older white woman who grew up during the civil rights era – it just makes me really uncomfortable.

Just another reminder to talk to your kids about race.  It’s so often a subject white people don’t discuss, but when you don’t your kids assume there’s something bad or wrong about people whose race differs from their own.  This article Even Babies Discriminate shows that  kids do think about it and if we’re not talking about it, then they think it must be bad. Another great resource I just read is Five Myths of Talking About Race With Your Child.

One of These Things is Just Like the other

Several times this week I’ve been looking at the Disney/princes/Barbie aisles in Target looking for something for Callie’s Easter basket and today looking with her for a new doll. It’s been very disappointing to see the lack in diversity – not surprising – but disappointing.

In the Easter basket aisle I saw this.  My first thought was, “One of these things is not likeImage

the other” – oh wait, no – all the same.  Since our country is now comprised of about 36%  people of color then Disney should have had at least one of these three some shade of brown and no, brown hair and green eyes don’t count.

Today Callie wanted to replace the only boy doll she had but lost, so back to Target we went.  The only boy “Barbie” dolls they had were blue eyed blondes – seriously.  She found a wedding set with Barbie, Ken, a ringbearer and a flower girl – every last one blue-eyed blondes.  That was out both because of the complete lack of diversity along with the price tag, not to mention the wedding obsession she does not need fanned.

She finally settled on a set of princesses.  More than I wanted to spend, but it’s a rare occasion that she gets to pick out a toy.  This was also a disconcerting purchase.Image

Seven princesses – seven – and only Tiana is “of color”.  Where are Mulan or Pocahantas?  I can not be the only mother, no matter what my ethnicity, who wants their child to have toys that reflect the beauty of the entire world we live in, not just a portion of it.  It’d be like playing with one color of legos – how boring would that be.

Come on Disney – get with it.  It’s hard enough that I have a daughter who in interested in something like princesses, don’t make it even harder for me by only promoting the submissive pure white ones.

Obsession

Remember the perfume Obsession?  They made it sound so alluring, captivating, enticing and, of course, sexy.  It’s also a synonym for fetish or mania – doesn’t sound so alluring now does it.

Dealing with a child who is totally obsessed and can’t be redirected is exhausting.  Yesterday Callie was in a very obsessive mood. The other kids are more than aware of her over the top one track mindedness too and they know we try to avoid anything that brings it front and center to her mind.  At church they were showing a DVD about a marriage conference and Jacob ran over to me and said, “Why are they showing this it’s just giving Callie ideas!”.  He knew what it would likely lead to and it did.  She spent the rest of the service trying to touch, hold hands or kiss whoever she could capture and generally make completely uncomfortable.

We will not be purchasing any Obsession any time soon around here.  Why purchase something you can get absolutely free?  What I’d like to be able to do is sell it.  Not the perfume, the less good smelling mania version – anyone?  Anyone at all?

Second Best – And I’m Good With That

I love all my children and am so proud to be their mother and can’t imagine my life without them.  I have, however, decided that I am second best and I’m good with that.

In a perfect world, and this world ain’t that, my adopted children would have been born to healthy families who had planned for them, excitedly awaiting their arrival, loved and adored them, were old enough, had enough money and resources and had extended family and a support system that were anxious to help in any way they could.  In a perfect world.

In this perfect world there would be no attachment issues or great loss to be suffered.  All children would share the same biology and family history with their parents.

I know this will be offensive to some adoptive parents.  As adoptive parents we’re used to hearing how “lucky” our kids are to have us.  What a ridiculous notion.  If our kids were “lucky” they wouldn’t have been born into situations or with health conditions that didn’t require a different set of skills then their first parents could provide.  Some of those parents simple knew they couldn’t provide, but in some of our kid’s situations their very lives were in danger because of their first parents.  This is not the norm for birth parents, but it is sometimes true.

I also know many people have grown up in bio families that suffer great pain inflicted physically and emotionally by their parents and there may be kids or adults who wish they’d been adopted. They likely fantasize about perfect adoptive parents just like adopted kids fantasize about their perfect first parents.  Sometimes life is just all messed up.

I had a psychologist once tell me that when my son screamed at me, “You’re not the mom I wanted” I should say something like, “You’re not the boy I expected either”.  Personally, I could never say that – possibly truthful, but it seemed pretty hurtful too.  The reality is, in his own way he’s right.  The mom he wanted at that moment is a mom that, sadly, doesn’t exist.

I know if this world wasn’t so broken this choice wouldn’t have been necessary in the first place.

So, yes in the grand scheme of things I may be second best, but I’m also the best mom they have.  I’m not the best mom period, but the best one they have.