On Thursdays I post from the vault. This post is from August 2008.
Ohhh . . . my heart is hurting tonight. This evening Jafta opened up about how he feels being the only brown person in our family, and it was devastating. He’s really never commented about it before, and we try to keep the dialogue open. But tonight he said the following,
Mommy, I don’t like my brown skin. I want it to be white.
I want to take my skin off.
I don’t want this hair. I want hair like daddy.
I want to fix my skin so it will be white.
I want my skin to look like yours and daddy’s and India’s
and then, worst of all:
I just don’t like myself
I tried so hard to listen, to keep from overreacting, to be empathetic, and to tell him how much I love him and his brown skin. But it was obvious that he has a lot of pent up feelings about this. I’ve wondered . . . especially watching the way he interacts with other kids sometimes. But tonight he left no question.
I am totally torn up about it. What do I do? We’ve read the books and followed the advice . . . but I’m just so sad because I know that there is inevitable grief in adoption, and this is a part of his life experience as a transracial adoptee. I WANT TO FIX IT. I want to protect him from pain. I don’t want him to be sad. I want him to feel special and loved and secure and confident.
Mark and I talked about it for a long time tonight. Well, Mark talked. I sobbed and made word-like noises through my ugly-cry face. We were evaluating what we could do differently, if we’ve made a mis-step somewhere. We considered again, if we need to move to Austin, or Haiti, or a place with more diversity than Orange County. But we were mostly just hurting for our little boy.
It’s so discouraging, too, that we want so badly to give him a sibling who looks like him. I wish so much that our Haiti adoption was not taking so long. I hate that he feels so alone in our family. I wish that he had just one face to identify with in our home.
UGGGHHHHH. Feeling sad tonight, and wishing I knew the answer.
Every Wednesday I feature a child recently highlighted by a local Wednesday’s Child newscast to share the stories of children from around the country who are waiting for a family. My hope is that this can broaden exposure for the children highlighted, but also serve as a reminder that these children represent thousands of children currently in the foster-care system. Perhaps their stories will inspire you to consider opening your home to a child needing a family. For more information and to learn about other waiting children, visit AdoptUsKids
Okay friends. I need to pick a backsplash for my kitchen. I’m torn between a geometric black and white, or adding a splash of blue. Scroll through and tell me which one you think would look best … (oh and the yellow chairs are going away – going with simple white chairs)
I went to the ENT today and had this apparatus used on me, which looked like a torture device from 1958. Prognosis: enlarged turbinates. Has anyone else dealt with this before? Tell me everything. I’ve been living with compacted sinuses and post-nasal drip pretty much constantly and I’m over it. Today he shot a syringe of steroid into both sides (fun!) but mentioned a balloon technique if that doesn’t work. Self care: not all massages and pedicures.
These are my “get shit done” overalls. I wear them most weekends when working on the house. India decided she needed some as well. She sewed the patches on herself. Today’s project: ripping the flooring out of the Backhouse and cleaning out the garage.
A little retrospective of the Howerton kids through the years (swipe left). Sunrise sunset and all that. 😥
Back-to-school means new beginnings. It’s a fresh start with limitless possibilities.
A surge of freedom and ideas and goals. I guess it’s cool for the kids, too.
Kristen and Sarah talk about their shared sensitivity to bad lighting, their indigestion woes, and their hot take on the proliferation of g-strings at the beach this summer. They also interview Jessica Turner, author of the new book Stretched Too Thin, on self-care for working moms and how to kick the mom guilt.
On Thursdays I post from the vault. This post is from September 2008.
Jafta is starting preschool on Monday. Over the years, I’ve been witness to many a preschool conversations by my friends with older kids. I’ve always listened and glibly thought, come on, it’s just preschool. Ah, sweet pre-parent naivete.
So now that it’s my turn, I’ve been agonizing over where to send Jafta to preschool since April. I kind of had a list of criteria that I was looking for in a preschool:
1. it’s realy, really close to my house
2. he can eat lunch there so I can run more errands
3. it doesnt’ start before 9am so I can sleep a bit later
4. it has a two-day option so we can spend less money
5. it has a Tues/Thurs option so that time in childcare preschool is not wasted on a day daddy is home to help with the kids
Wow. Is this the most self-indulgent list you have ever seen? Me, me, me. What’s best for me.
But over the last few months I’ve been convicted that perhaps what is best for me is not what is best for Jafta.
See, there is this amazing preschool that many of my friends recommended. That have a great acadmic prep. The teachers are insanely nurturing and make every kid feel like a star. They do worship every morning. His best friend is going and could be in his class. Jafta went to VBS there and loved it. All signs were pointing to this being a great option for Jafta, but I fought it tooth and nail.
But he would have to go Mon/Wed/Fri, two of which are mornings he hangs with Mark. But it starts really, really early. But it has no lunch option. But it’s more expensive. But it’s kind of a hike. But I want to do things on Tuesday and Thursday while he’s in school. But Ali and I can have meetings if our kids are on the same schedule . . .
Wah Wah Wah.
So I paid a hefty deposit and first month’s dues for a different preschool that fit my own needs. And last week, Jafta starting begging to go to his best friend’s school. And Mark started calling me out for why he wasn’t. And I started feeling really, really guilty.
So I sucked up my pride and selfishness, said goodbye to the money blown on mommy’s choice, and got him a spot in Ryder’s class at Lil’ Lighthouse Preschool. Looks like we’ll be waking at the crack of dawn on Mon/Wed/Fri.
Every Wednesday I feature a child recently highlighted by a local Wednesday’s Child newscast to share the stories of children from around the country who are waiting for a family. My hope is that this can broaden exposure for the children highlighted, but also serve as a reminder that these children represent thousands of children currently in the foster-care system. Perhaps their stories will inspire you to consider opening your home to a child needing a family. For more information and to learn about other waiting children, visit AdoptUsKids.
On Thursdays I post from the vault. This post is from July 2008.
As a transracial family in a vanilla county, we hear these kind of comments every now and then, especially from other preschool-aged kids. This week, we heard on two different occasions. No biggie: it is perfectly normal for a child of that age to notice color. I mean, they are just learning colors and pointing it out is just an observation. I am NEVER offended by children making such comments. In fact, it can open up great learning opportunities for kids to understand adoption, difference, etc.
However, one of the circumstances this week was kinda awkward. A little girl pointed to Jafta, and this was how the dialogue went:
CURIOUS GIRL: Mommy, do you SEE him!?! He’s brown!
MORTIFIED MOM: (clearly embarrassed) Honey, be quiet.
CURIOUS GIRL: Mommy, do you see? Do you see that boy?
MORTIFIED MOM: Sweetie, BE QUIET. Be quiet right now.
CURIOUS GIRL: But mommy, look! He’s brown.
MORTIFIED MOM: (now angrily) If you don’t stop saying that right now, I will give you a spanking.
I totally get where this mom is coming from. I can imagine doing this myself, in another setting. But think for a minute what this interchange communicated to this little girl about “color difference”. What message did this well-meaning mom unintentionally send to her daughter, and to my son, who was watching the whole thing?
Avoiding the topic of race can be one of the biggest mistakes parents make in raising healthy, race-concious children. Shaming, igoring, or avoiding your child’s comments on race can send a strong message: racial difference is SO bad and SO embarrasing that we can’t even talk about it. (Kinda reminds ya of how some families deal with sex, huh?).
So how should someone react? I don’t know the perfect answer. Perhaps a Diversity Day, like on The Office? Okay, maybe not. But let me tell you about the other interchange that happened this week:
A little girl pointed to Jafta and said, “You’re so brown”. And my husband said, “Did you hear that, Jafta? Say thank you.”