Little Brown Boy

Froggy and I recently had a few friends over for a play date. It was a very fun morning, and my friends and I got some much-needed adult time while the kids played. While they were playing, my son reached over and grabbed my friend’s water bottle from her diaper bag and started to chew on it. Her 3 year old daughter said “That little brown boy took your water”. Her mom simply said “His name is Froggy” and we all went on with our play date.

I know that the girl was just trying to specify which boy took the water bottle. At age 3, it is appropriate to label people based on how they look because toddlers do not have the cognitive awareness to realize that it could be construed as offensive to name someone based solely on their skin color. It’s the same reason we don’t say “that fat man”; it is impolite and people don’t like being labeled as fat.

My friend’s daughter was just trying to tell her mom that someone had her water bottle. And, Froggy is a little brown boy. The description let us all know who took the water bottle. I love that her mom simply corrected her by stating his name, and did not bring any attention to what she said. It was the prefect response. I wasn’t offended in the slightest, because I know that children, especially toddlers, sometimes say innocent things that adults take offense to. We make things into a big deal that really aren’t.  The little girl was simply describing Froggy as best she knew how. For some reason, society has deemed it appropriate to say things like “the baby with the curly brown hair” and not “that little brown boy” when both descriptions are accurate and would have let us know she was talking about Froggy.

I think when adults make a big deal about things that children do or say that are unintentionally hurtful or not appropriate it makes the situation worse. Instead, if Buggy makes a comment that may be offensive to others I try to minimize it, and explain why we don’t say that at another time. If I make a big deal and draw attention to the situation it is more likely Buggy will do it again. After all, who doesn’t like attention? It is important to remember that we often need to describe others, and that calling someone black, brown, white, or any other color is an important part of their physical description, the same way stating their height or weight is important if we want someone to know who we are talking about. Now, I don’t really think going around calling everyone “that black man” “or “that brown girl” is very polite, but in some circumstances a full physical description is necessary to get the point across. In other situations, like on a play date with friends, simply correcting the child by stating the other person’s name is sufficient.

Has your child ever described someone based on skin color? How did you respond?

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Bubbles and Bees

A few weeks ago my husband and Buggy were outside playing bubbles. She LOVES playing bubbles, so I wanted to go take a few photos of her. Isn’t she just the cutest?

Anyway… I opened the back door at the same time that my husband swatted a bee. He inadvertently hit me in the stomach, and I yelled. I yelled because it hurt a little bit, but mostly because it was unexpected, and I was surprised to get hit while walking out the door. I had no idea he was about to swat a bee, and he didn’t know I was walking out the door at that moment. It was a total accident, and I wasn’t hurt at all, but that doesn’t mean that the neighbors who heard me yell knew the context of the situation. I was accidentally hit, but not hurt in the slightest.

My husband brought me inside and explained how it might look to someone who didn’t know us, and didn’t know he was swatting a bee and accidentally hit me on his follow through. How it might sound to someone who didn’t hear the part about how I wasn’t actually hurt. How it wasn’t on purpose. My husband explained to me that a white woman on her porch yelling that her black husband hit her doesn’t look good. He said it might be enough for someone to call the cops.

I started crying, because someone calling the cops on him for swatting a bee and accidentally lightly hitting me was something that I never in 1,000 years would have considered. I had so many thoughts and questions racing through my mind, but mostly I was nervous and scared. I was scared that my family would be ripped apart due to a simple misunderstanding, and that because of my husband’s skin color the police wouldn’t believe our story and he would be taken to jail (or worse) and it would be all my fault. I started getting mad at myself for yelling when I got hit. How could I not realize how it would sound or look to someone else? How could I not know that there is so much injustice within the criminal justice system, and that my husband could be hauled away just for swatting a bee. What would I do if the police came? I was over reacting to the situation, but I couldn’t stop the thoughts from coming. What was I going to do, and how could I make them understand that it was an accident. That we love each other, and that he would never hurt me.

While nobody overheard us that day, and the police did not come, my conversation with my husband has been troubling me for weeks. What I didn’t consider that day was the fact that we were outside, within earshot of our neighbors, and that I yelled that my husband just hit me. I didn’t think about the fact that as a white woman talking about being hit by a black man (no matter the context or intent) could get him into trouble. He is so much more aware of his surroundings and of situations that could be perceived by others as negative then I am. And it is because he is black.   It is because of his experiences, and those of others like Philando Castile, who was shot and killed by police while sitting in his car, that make him more cautious then me. I will never know what it is like to live in fear of the police, or how it feels to be treated poorly because of my coloring. I can never fully understand what my husband goes through, and what my children will go through as “people of color”. I will never be scared the way that they are.

I am scared that my kids are going to grow up in a world that systemically discriminates against them because of their skin color, and that they will never be given the same opportunities I have had simply because they do not appear white. I am afraid that even if I teach my son to respect police and to comply with their requests, he will still be in danger. I don’t know what to do about these problems, but I feel the need to do something. I don’t believe in fighting violence with violence, and disagree with the recent police shootings in Dallas. However, I cannot simply sit back and live in fear that something will happen to my family.

I am going to go play bubbles with Buggy now, and hope that no more bees fly by when I walk by my husband. And I’m going to try to be more aware of my surroundings and of situations in which my family may feel uncomfortable, even if I don’t.

Biracial Buggy is Back!

Hi everyone, after a considerable break from blogging about the joys of raising my biracial children, I’m back!  It’s been very hectic trying to balance work and family life, but now that it’s summer and I have a bit more “free time” (haha, like I’m ever really free from my mommy duties!) I’m ready to get back to writing about Buggy and her brother, now nicknamed Froggy due to the way he hops around the living room while trying to learn to crawl and walk.

Let me catch you up on the last 6 months in the lives of Buggy and Froggy.  Buggy started “school” (aka daycare) this spring.  She LOVES it!  She asks me every day if it is a school day, and she is always talking about all of her little friends and how her teacher let them have a dance party.  You should see this girl do the Whip and Nae Nae!  Buggy potty trained just after her 2nd birthday in December, and is now only in diapers at nap and bed time.  She likes helping me sort Froggy’s diapers and pick out her own at bed time.  She asks to be my big helper all the time, so we keep her nice and busy with chores – she unloads the dish washer (with assistance), sorts laundry, and has started helping me bake and cook.  Buggy and I went on our first camping trip, and we also ventured to Florida as a family for spring break and took a few trips to the beach.

Froggy is now 10 months old (where did my baby go!?).  He pulls up to a stand, cruises along the furniture, loves eating, and is often found playing at the Lego table.  He says “dada” and is always smiling.  Froggy is such a happy, easygoing little guy, and boy does he love his sleep!  He sleeps 12 hours a night, and take 2 naps that are between 2 and 3 hours each.

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We have also had our fair share of racial remarks, misunderstandings, and comical moments in the past 6 months, which will be featured in upcoming posts.  Stay tuned to hear what happened when Froggy was referred to as “that little brown boy”, the time I got invited to a hair party to learn how to do Buggy’s hair, and how I reacted when someone thought my kids were not my kids.  Plus, hear my thoughts on the recent police shootings of black men and #blacklivesmatter

 

Curly Girl

As someone with stick straight hair, I never really had to try hard to “do” my hair.  I could easily brush through it, put it in a pony tail, pig tails, or braid it.  I’m also lucky that on the rare occasion that I pull out the curling iron, I don’t have to use a ton hairspray to get the curls to stay.  Actually, the more hairspray I use the sooner the curls tend to come out (I think it may be because the weight of the spray is pulling the curls down).  People are often envious of my natural blond highlights and nearly every time I go to a new salon I am told that people pay good money for my hair color.  I’d consider myself lucky in the hair department – I don’t need special conditioner, I don’t have to spend hours straightening my hair, or use any gel, hair spray or other expensive products to get my hair to stay how I want it.

As a mom of a biracial child whose African roots show themselves in her beautifully curly locks, I am not as lucky.  It takes a solid 30 minutes or more to comb through Buggy’s unruly hair, and another 15 to get some lopsided pig tails – the only style I’m actually decent at.  Recently, I’ve been attempting to branch out and try different hairstyles on my little princess.  Here are some of my more (and less!) successful attempts.

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The 5 little puffs look

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The one ponytail with giant bow style

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Two pig tails

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The “my daddy did my hair today” pony tail.

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Multiple pig tails braided

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The every day fro

The one tip that I can pass on to other moms (and dad’s) came from a good friend of mine.  She  recently suggested I comb Buggy’s hair when she’s in the bath (or shower).  I don’t know why I never thought of that before – but it’s like magic!  I now wash her hair then put conditioner in it and give her a few bath crayons.  She colors the tub walls while I comb the conditioner through her hair.  Then a quick rinse with the detachable shower head and she’s good to go.  When wet and combed out, Buggy’s hair reaches down between her shoulder blades!  It’s beautiful, and she’s taken to shaking her head side to side to feel her perfect little curls bounce around her face and neck.

I still struggle to get her fluffy locks under control, and the humidity of the south is definitely not in her favor, but the longer it gets and the more times I practice the better I get, and the tougher her scalp gets! 

Buggy’s Birthday

Two years ago today, I was 9 days over due with my first baby.  I was supposed to go in to be induced on December 7th, 2013, but around 10am on the 6th I got a call saying the birthing unit was nearly empty and I was at the top of the induction list!  I quickly woke up my husband, took a shower, ate some breakfast and grabbed my bags!  We were about to have a baby!!  Little did I know how long my induction and labor would take!

When we arrived and checked in I was given Cervidil, which ripens the cervix.  You can’t get up while it is in except to use the restroom, and it stays in for 12 hours, so from about 11am to 11pm I was stuck in bed.  My husband and I watched TV, talked, updated our facebook status, and texted family to tell them the baby was coming.  I watched a lot of episodes of “Say Yes to the Dress” and my favorite holiday movie, “Frosty the Snowman” came on that night.  It was peaceful, but the anticipation of my daughter being born ket me from sleeping much.  I think partly because I was well rested from the night before and partly because I was way too excited to sleep.

Sometime before midnight I was feeling contractions every few minutes, and the nurses said I was in labor!  Yay!  I called our Doula, Misty, who came to the hospital and helped coach myself and my husband.  They took turns sleeping while I watched TV and tried my best to rest between contractions.  At one point I was laboring standing up and would actually fall asleep standing up being held upright by my husband.  I also got sick, and while the Doula was helping catch my vomit in a bowl I peed on my husband!  We actually thought it was my water breaking, but nope.  Just a little pee.  Oops, sorry, husband!

Around 6am the doctor came and and checked me, and decided I would need Pitocin because I wasn’t progressing that much.  I had wanted a med free birth, and tried to talk them out of it, but by then I had been up 20 hours and was exhausted.  I decided if they were giving me a Pitocin I also wanted an epidural.  At that same moment, someone else was being rushed into an emergency c-section and needed the anesthesiologist.  I had to wait.  Those 90 minutes were the worst part of labor, because I was so tired and in so much pain and there was nothing I could really do about it.

Finally, at around 7:30am (just after shift change) I got my epidural and I was able to relax.  I couldn’t feel anything.  It was awesome!  I slept some and got myself mentally ready for Buggy’s arrival.  Time ticked by. I ate some ice chips and a little purple jell-o (they won’t give red because if you puke it might look like blood!).

At about 3:30pm the nurse and midwife came in and checked me.  They decided that it was time to push, so they set my bed back and got my husband and Doula in place to help hold my legs up.  I pushed when they told me, which was every contraction.  Pretty much every 3 minutes.  My epidural was still very effective, so I couldn’t feel anything, including that I was gripping my own leg hard enough to get handprint bruises on my legs!  This lasted for about 3 hours before the midwife came and and told me I had to rest, or this would end in a c-section.  I said ok and fell asleep for what I thought would be a 15 minute cat nap.  50 minutes later the nurse came back in and I pushed again for about another 15 minutes, and at 7:26pm on December 7th, 2013 Buggy was born!

She didn’t cry right away, which was good because she was covered in meconium, that tarry first baby poop.  If swallowed, meconium can be dangerous and cause problems for the baby, so the baby doctor quickly suctioned it off of Buggy and all was well.  My husband got to hold Buggy first, and I think those first moments of bonding are part of the reason why they are so close.  Even now, my little girl is a daddy’s girl.

Is That Your Son?

Recently, I was walking down the hallway to my office holding hands with a little boy who needed my help when one of my new co-workers walked by and asked if he was my son.  I replied “No, my son is only 3 months” and continued walking, trying to ignore the fact that this particular boy does look an awful lot like me.  He is blond with freckles, blue eyes, and pale skin.  I know that this person didn’t mean it to be mean or hurtful by asking if he was my son, but it made me a little bit sad because I realized (again) that I won’t ever have children who look like me.  Both my kids have dark curly hair and are a darker complexion then I am, and both of them are dark-eyed.  I totally get why someone might think the boy I was walking with was related to me – we look alike!  But my children don’t look like me, and I didn’t like it being assumed that someone who does look like me must be my child.

I’m finding it hard to come to terms with the fact that I won’t have children who look like me.  I know my kids are beautiful, and that they have their own (good) looks.  We get compliments all the time about how cute, pretty, handsome, and nice looking they are and while I totally appreciate all the compliments, I know that people look at us and don’t automatically think we are related.  I do see some of myself in them.  My son has my eye shape and my daughter has my nose, but the obvious physical traits people notice at first glance are all my husband’s.

When my new co-worker asked if the little blonde boy was my son I thought for a moment how easy life would be if my kids looked like me.  I thought about how we wouldn’t get stared at in the grocery store, how people wouldn’t make rude comments to us, and how we wouldn’t feel like outsiders in social situations with families who are all the same race. Life would be easier, to an extent, if we were not a mixed race family.  But then, I look at Buggy and her little dimples and big round eyes and I see her growing up learning acceptance and tolerance and learning from the awkward and rude situations we face on a weekly (if not daily) basis.  I see her brother with his dark curls and big brown cheeks smiling up at me and I know that he will be stronger for having to face adversity due to being biracial.  It would be nice not to have to navigate though situations or to try to protect my family from unwanted comments regarding their racial background.  It would be nice to have children who look like me.  But I love my family so much, and they wouldn’t be mine if they looked just like me.

Things I Never Thought I’d Say

Being the mom of a toddler is amazing.  Watching Buggy grow and change every day is a wonderful experience, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.  She is creative, funny, smart, curious, and goofy.  The more she grows the more silly, weird, and awkward things I find myself saying!  Here is a list of things I’ve said recently that are just plain ridiculous!

  1. Don’t color on your brother’s face!
  2. You can’t only eat ketchup for breakfast.  Eat your fruit. (She then proceeds to dip her fruit in ketchup)
  3. Stop sniffing your brother’s diapers!
  4. That is butt cream, not chap stick.  Get it away from your face!  Ick!
  5. No, that’s not your Dada, that’s a small white girl.  Your dad is big black man.  Wrong on all accounts!
  6. Why are you wearing you swim suit over your pajamas?IMG_1488
  7. Stop touching your brother’s butt.  Butt’s are not for touching!
  8. That is not our car!  (This happens every time we pass a car, she always tries to get in other people’s cars!)
  9. No, you cannot have your toothbrush back.  (An all out toddler fit ensues while I continue, talking mostly to myself) Your toothbrush fell on the floor of Chipotle and I don’t care if you cry about it, I am getting my damn burrito!!  And you’re not getting this toothbrush back! Ever!
  10. Buggy!  Stop!  Your brother can’t eat goldfish!  (one minute later…) Stop feeding him grapes!  Just don’t feed him anything.  Got it?

What funny things have your kids said?