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So What You Saying?
I must have caught at least four flies in my mouth when my son said these words. Not because he said them, but because he kept saying them and got mad when I told him otherwise.
Lord, what am I going to do? I thought.
We were on the living floor playing with the bag of Legos I’d bought him for Christmas. He was working on building a castle while I had just finished making a swift little car. On the cover of the Legos bag is an animated version of a little Caucasian boy smiling and holding some of them. My son, a “light skinned” lean little guy, grabbed the bag and asked me what color the little boy was. When I told him that the Legos kid was white, he got excited and said that he was, too.
Honestly, I can understand how he may have gotten confused. He’s not, as we refer to it in the Black community “high yella”, but he is of a lighter complexion. And who knows, he probably identified with the Legos kid because they’re both boys about the same size and age if he had one.
In a calm tone, I told him that he was Black, like mommy and daddy. He pouted.
I told him again that he was Black, like Grandma and Papa. He pouted again.
Finally I said he was African-American, like everyone in our family. He lost it!
“I AM A WHITE BOY!”
The “black and white” conversation is one that I’d treaded lightly on. This wasn’t our first time discussing color in a sense, but it was our first time discussing it like this. Though we live in the South, I didn’t want to put preconceived notions in my very impressionable child’s head. I mean, he’s three years old, for crying out loud! The color conversation was one I wanted to save for as long as I could. But like kids often do, he taught me that my planning doesn’t really matter.
I spoke with my dad, who’s a very proud man, about this and asked if he could help me explain this better. Because of my son’s outrageous response to this, I felt defeated because we were going nowhere fast. In his textured and relaxing voice, my dad got on his knees to meet my son’s eye level and explained to him that he is a little Black boy and that he should be proud of that. Always.
My dad didn’t say anything that was too different from what I’d said to him, but I think it mattered more because of him being male. After explaining that our whole (immediate) family is one color and of one race, my son began to understand just who he was. Now, when we look at television, he gets excited when he sees a little Black boy and says “Mommy, he’s Black like me!”
Thankful for my dad’s help, I was. But I often wonder if we’ve started something that will cause issues for him down the line. Like any mother does, I’ve prayed about this incident and discuss it with him often. I’m glad that he uses that part of his brain to identify people, but I’m also teaching him – before it starts – not to define people because of their skin color.
I was reminded that things rarely go as planned when it comes to your kids. I also had to realize that my baby is a growing, inquisitive little boy who will have to face certain things on his own, regardless of how much I try to protect him from it. This is going to be an interesting journey, but with practice and patience, he and I will be just fine.
How would you react if your toddler said something like this? Do you think that she handled the situation appropriately?
Photo Credit: guardian.co.uk,