Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What Color Are You?

Aiden and Cole are constantly asking me why African American people are wearing gloves, and this bothers me. It's also really irritating.

I don't know why they can't figure out that their hands are simply a shade of brown like their faces, but this concept is baffling to both of them.  Any pictures of African Americans throws them into a series of questions about glove wearing when it's not cold, if they are wearing work gloves, and why they always wear brown gloves. 

Even a man helping us at Costco spurred the eternal question about glove wearing. It was a tad uncomfortable.

Do my children have some sort of brain damage? 

Aiden spotted a picture of Halle Berry the other day and asked why she was wearing gloves on the beach. She had on a long sleeve tunic of some sort, but clearly her hands were the same color as her face and legs.  Why is this so confusing for them?

Sidenote:  Why is Halle Berry so pretty?  It's just not natural.  No one should look that good with that short of hair. When is she going to start going down hill?  It would make me feel better.

We've had many discussions about how there are lots of different colors of people around the world.  We've looked at the globe and talked about how some people have darker skin from certain areas of the world and how even our skin is different from one another's.  I'm such a good parent.

We've talked about how great our country is to have all different colors and types of people. We've talked about what Asian people look like, Native American, African American, Indian, and Hispanic. 

I do not use pictures of Mariah Carey, Demi Lovato, Mila Kunis, or Pittbull though because I don't know how to classify them.  Beautiful, but I could not "label" them if I tried.  Well, I know Pitbull is from Cuba, but there is no way I would have just guessed that by looking at him.

The whole discussion is not computing with them though.

When Aiden was three he kept calling our rat exterminator, a very large African American male, Daddy.  The man kept asking me if my husband was black, and died laughing when I showed him Alex's picture.

Side note:  My husband is Greek.

Side note:  Is it wrong to think that this eliminates any confusion about whether or not he is black?

Side note: Seriously, is that wrong? 

The moral of the story though is that Aiden never once asked the rat exterminator why he was wearing gloves , thank goodness.  Well, maybe not the moral of the story, but you know what I mean. 

Wait, what was the moral of that story?  I'm not editing this though, it's staying.  Consider it just extra babble to quench your thirst for my Recipe-Ish babble I've been withholding.  That might not make sense, that's sort of where I am right now.

I've tried to guide Aiden on appropriate words to use also, but sometimes I simply don't know myself.  Am I allowed to refer to an African American person as black?  Aiden calls them brown.  As in, "that little brown boy sure is fast," said Aiden on the sideline of his soccer game watching another player run around the field.  Brown just feels wrong. 

That little boy was scary fast though.  It didn't even look like he was trying to be quick.  He was awesome.

Aiden calls himself light brown, or yellow, or khaki, or desert sand because I made the mistake of actually verbalizing the names of the colors on the crayons.

He calls Asians, all Asian people, Chinese, because he has a friend that is Chinese.  I didn't understand where this was coming from until he came home from school a week or so ago to tell me that a girl was chasing him at recess.  When I asked him why he said, "because she wants me to speak Chinese." 

Of course.

I was baffled until Alex texted me a picture of Aiden's adorable friend, who he found out is apparently Chinese.

Side note: Alex was at a 'Dad Day at School' event, he was definitely not stalking Aiden's young Asian friend to determine why she was chasing him on the playground.  Under normal circumstances we wouldn't hunt down kids playing with Aiden.  I mean, unless we had to of course.

On Thursday Aiden brought home a library book, a new privilege for his kindergarten class.  He is allowed to hand pick a book he wants to read each week. Keep in mind there are thousands of books.  He goes to a nice school, where there is by no means a shortage of stories.

What did he select?

Molly Bannaky, of course.  What?  You haven't heard of it?  You are missing out.

Oh it's a lovely tale about a dairymaid who spilled a pail of milk, was punished by being shipped off to America to live as a slave for seven years, and then went out on her own and bought a black slave whom she soon fell in love, married, and had children with until he died about ten years later 

It's a gem.

Particularly for a five year old.

This was super fun to explain.  I believe in being honest and age appropriately informative about all things with my kids, but this book was a little heavy for bedtime.  Slavery and why an interracial marriage was forbidden despite their love for another?   It's super fun to talk about ignorance and hatred before I tuck him in at night.

I hope there's a fun book in the library about why gay marriage is illegal that we can tackle this week.

He didn't once ask about the man's gloves though.  Can this count as progress?

What do your kids ask about different races? 

Also, thanks for all the support from my grumpy post yesterday, it meant a lot. 

I am feeling mostly better.  I felt 90% functional all day today.  Progress.


Prudently Painted Vintage said...

Lol!! Is it okay that I love your boys?! They are fantastic. Great library book! I feel like I missed out on that one. Glad you're feeling better!

Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

Glad you feel better, Leslie, how fun are your kids ?~!

Lorilynne said...

Every time we go to the library Piper asks if she can get the book about the black Barbie. I have no idea what book she is talking about but she says it super loudly and I always get embarrassed. I've explained how people have different colored skin and how we shouldn't focus on the color.... but it's a conversation we have a lot because it's not sinking in. The other day at school we overheard and mother and daughter speaking to each other in Spanish and she asked me "why are they talking like that?!" Never mind the fact that her Dad speaks in Spanish to his parents ALL the time so she's been around the language since birth.....kids can be so embarrassing sometimes!

lcarp51 said...

I have a Native American daughter and a blond haired, blue eyed daughter. They think they're twins. They like to tell people that. It's fun.

Rhenee Berger said...

HA!! This topic comes up often in my house! It's real nice when YOU are the outcast ;) My skin color didn't pass on to any of my kids -amazingly- since darker skin is the dominant trait. When each of my boys noticed, they were sure to ask why I was "different" ...I've got one more to realize & discuss this with- Raylee is too young to notice yet. But since I've got the interracial thing going right at home, I've never been humiliated with the questions in public - there's a plus :) In conclusion (haha!) your kids are brilliantly normal.

Keri said...

The first time my kids complain that I've embarrassed them, I'm bringing up all the times they did the same to me!
My daughter used to yell at her Korean friend in [fake] Spanish because she didn't understand that not all foreign languages are the same.
You have no idea how many times we've had the same-sex marriage conversation in our house. Why are a 5 and 8 year old so concerned about who they will marry??

momnextdoor said...

I started to write this comment mentioning all the parts I loved the most and I found myself re-writing your entire post. So instead of doing that I'll just say I love you. And I love your kids too! :-)

Anonymous said...

It is confusing. African Americans are considered to be black, but my 5-year old says they're brown, which actually seems to be more true unless you're truly from the deepest part of Africa. He thinks Latinos are also brown, but not quite as dark, and Middle Easterns are pretty dark as well. At this moment, my son looks like the whitest kid in America without actually being an albino. He wants to be brown. You always want what you don't have - like having curly hair when you want straight hair. No, he's not going to a tanning salon anytime soon.

Amy Pollak said...

There's a great chapter in the book NurtureShock about discussing race with children. To sum it up, their curiosity is completely normal, and you're doing well to answer the questions and have these conversations at a young age. Very funny post. :)

Emmy said...

That is funny that they just comment on the hands. It hasn't come up too much for us yet as we live in SoCal and there are so many different colors that I just is normal for my kids I think.

KSK said...

LOL! That's SO funny!

...I can't wait until my daughter is old enough to embarrass me... :/

My sister-in-law (years ago) saw a black man at a McDonalds.. and started pointing him and screaming "Michael Jordan! Michael Jordan!" LOL!!

Two Normal Moms said...

When my son was small (3-ish?), and it was summer, and the car windows were of course down, we pulled up to a stoplight next to a man with HIS windows down. He was black. My son loudly asked, "Is that a basketball guy?" Clearly there was WAY TOO MUCH ESPN going on in my house. Hubs got a talking to for that.

Missy said...

My oldest used to label people by their shirt color. Like, "look at that purple woman, Mommy." So it was only inevitable that one day she find an African American in a black shirt. "Hey look at that black woman, Mommy.!" In the elevator with us.

Mortified. Kids really do say and think the darndest things.

Paula said...

My son has not went through that phase yet and I am hoping he just skipped it so we can focus on other topics, such as why animal hoarding is bad and what not. haha