Something I’ve been thinking about…
I see all these posts and memes stating that children don’t see differences, they don’t see color, etc. However, in my experience as a teacher and as a mom, that’s not true. They absolutely notice. But how we respond when they notice is crucial.
I vividly remember being at the pool with oldest son, Liam when we saw a little girl take off her prosthetic arm to swim. Liam loudly asked:
“Why does that girl only have one arm?”
I could feel my face turning red and I simply answered:
“I don’t know.”
I approached her parents, we talked and we called the kids over so they could meet. The girl’s mom explained to Liam what had happened to her. Both parents thanked us for asking questions and having a conversation instead of just staring.
Another time, Liam came with me to the elementary school carnival where I teach. While we were there, he asked me why the girls were wearing “hoods.” He had never seen or noticed someone wearing a hijab. So, we talked about it. It was a great teachable moment not just for him, but for me as a parent.
I knew then we needed to be more mindful of the fact that representation matters, not just as a mirror to see yourself but as a window to see that the world is so much bigger than you.
Our privilege as a family is that, while we’ve had these conversations, we haven’t actively talked about race and racism. We haven’t needed to, it’s not a challenge that my boys face, unlike so many other parents who have to prepare their small children for a world that doesn’t always value their differences. Having multicultural representation in the books we read is a good start, but it’s not enough. We have some changes to make in the intentional conversations we have with our kids. We are learning. We are growing.
While we were reading “The Word Collector,” Liam noticed the girl in the picture and said-
“Just like the girls we met, Momma!”