I was speaking to one of my daughters-in-law a few weeks back. She told me about a conversation she had with my granddaughter’s daycare provider.
The provider had accosted my daughter-in-law when she got there to pick up her child. It was important, the worker said, to make my daughter-in-law aware of something that had happened that day.
One of the boys had committed some child-size offence that my little one didn’t like, so she ran to the lady to tattle. When the provider asked which boy had aggravated her, my little lady pointed to the offender and said, “that brown boy.”
The provider pointed out to my daughter-in-law that describing someone by the color of his skin was unacceptable. My granddaughter needed to learn.
There were no more serious repercussions so I do appreciate the provider’s discretion in not making the situation bigger than it already was.
Except that the whole thing kind of bothers me.
Annie and I raised our boys to judge others by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. We had friends of various races and mixtures moving in and out of our house and our sons’ lives as they grew up.
I’ve seen every indication that our daughters-in-law were raised the same way.
How did our efforts, as a society, to be accepting of all races, colors, religions, and lifestyles gotten so out of hand that we are forbidden to even notice our differences?
There are a lot of ways I have been described by others. I have been called short, fat, bald-headed, and old, among others. While none of those descriptors is complimentary, they are all true. I don’t necessarily like being referred to by any of them either, but I don’t object, because of the fact that they are correct and they really do accurately describe me.
I think we can teach our kids that everyone is the same in the important ways without lying to them that there are no differences at all. Children are not stupid and, if my own experience has taught me anything, children will reject ideas and beliefs that are taught disingenuously, and that rejection may take with it other, more appropriate, ideas.
We have enough problems with our struggling economy, the increase in violence around the country, and more. Why do we have to make something a problem that really isn’t? Does anyone truly think that children won’t notice that everyone is different just because we don’t allow them to verbalize it? When we tell kids that they can’t mention that another child has a different skin tone, isn’t that almost like saying there is something to be ashamed of in the difference?
I read on the internet a while back about a little girl, Sophia Benner, whose mother, Brandi, took her shopping for a new doll. The little sweetheart, who is white, chose a black doctor doll. A woman at the store asked the girl if she was sure she didn’t want a “baby” that looked more like her. After all, the one she had chosen didn’t look like her.
Sophia replied, “Yes, she does. She’s a doctor like I’m a doctor. And I’m a pretty girl and she’s a pretty girl. See her pretty hair? And see her stethoscope?”
Now, I’m sure Sophia knew the doll did not resemble her superficially but, and here’s the important part, it did not matter to her. It was the adult who seemed to think it should be more important than it was.
It just so happens that my granddaughter who seems to be the focus of the “brown boy” story has some dolls of her own. They are of several different hair colors and skin tones, including brown. She plays with them all. As long as she gives me a hug and an, “I love you, Pa,” now and then, I’ll buy her whatever doll she wants and not give it a second thought, and I’ll support her right to notice that they are not all identical, too.
But wait. Maybe I should be offended and demand political correctness from her. After all, none of her dolls is short, fat, bald-headed, and old, like me.