Wednesday, February 27th, 2013
Cynthia Roelle, mom to a 2-year-old daughter and award-winning photographer, believes that children do see skin color and that it’s up to parents to teach them it doesn’t matter.
I don’t generally get worked up over things I read on Facebook but earlier this month a friend posted something that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind.
My friend was with her girls at the playground. A little girl with blonde hair approached her and asked if she was the girls’ mom or their babysitter. When my friend told the little girl that she was their mother the little girl said: “Well they look different than you. You know, their skin is darker and yours is like mine.”
My friend looks similar to me. She’s a taller-than-average white girl with shoulder-length brown hair and fair skin. Her daughters are both blessed with beautiful dark brown hair and skin that’s a creamy shade of caramel. What I would give for skin like that. Those lucky little ladies got it from their father whose family comes from Ecuador (though he’s pretty light himself).
One of the cool things about my friend is that she doesn’t have thin skin, fair though it may be. But something about her encounter with the little girl left her feeling sad. After explaining the scenario on Facebook she wrote: “I can only say that for various reasons, I don’t think that what happened this afternoon was a clear cut case of either curiosity or prejudice.”
Most of the people who commented on my friend’s post saw the exchange as a “teachable moment.” But one woman had this to say:
“[Y]ou taught that little bigot about life. What difference does skin color make…. Most young children do not see skin color unless some adult brought it to there [sic] attention.”
I wasn’t at the playground that day so I can’t speak to the girl’s tone or demeanor but to call a little girl a bigot? Wow. That’s harsh. And to say that children do not see skin color is simply wrong. They just don’t form judgments about people based on skin color. They can’t, because they have no framework in which to do so.
That’s where parents come in. It’s up to us to teach our children that color is, quite literally, only skin deep. It’s up to us to teach them that people come in all colors, shapes and sizes but that skin color and physical characteristics do not define a person. It’s up to us to teach our children that while every person is unique, we are all equal.
Children learn and form assumptions about the world based on what they observe. They just haven’t developed a brain-to-mouth filter that keeps them from asking blunt questions.
In the case of the little girl at the playground, it seems to me that she did the best thing she could have done. She noticed a difference in skin color between my friend and her daughters and asked about it. She made a blunt comment about the difference but her comment, at least as I read it, was free of judgment.
What do you think?
Categories: Cynthia's Guest Blog, Mom Situations, Must Read | Tags: assumption, black, curiosity, dark, different, equal, fair, feeling, judgment, light, mom, mother, playground, prejudice, sad, skin, skin color, skin deep, teach, white
Tuesday, July 19th, 2011
Last week I wrote about my irrational anger at everyday noises. Anything that stands in the way of Fia’s nap sets me off. So I came up with a solution. She now naps in our downstairs bathroom–in her stroller. It’s the only dark windowless room in our house. I turn on the ventilation fan, strap her in, and boom, she’s out within seconds. I can get anywhere from 1-3 hours.
I bank on this time. It’s how I get stuff done.
So it came with extreme irritation and fury when just 30 minutes into her nap Phil came downstairs and yanked open the bathroom door. I was on the phone and mouthed the biggest WTF???? my lips would do, throwing my arm in the air with exasperation. He of all people knows better. He mouthed something angrily back. I hung up my call to the sound of a cry.
?!$#?&%! YOU WOKE HER UP! I shouted, ready to spit I was so pissed.
“IT SMELLS LIKE NATURAL GAS IN THE UPSTAIRS BATHROOM!!!” (which is right above the one she naps in) he yelled back, as he gently picked her out of the stroller with a hug. “I WAS MAKING SURE IT WASN’T DOWN HERE!!” We sounded like the Costanza’s.
Seething, I stormed past them both, went upstairs, and boom the smell hit me like a dozen rotten eggs. It was one of those moments where I knew he was right. And should be touched by his protective nature. For god’s sakes…you don’t mess with gas. It can kill.
Yet, somewhere inside, a voice was still saying, “But did you have to open the bathroom door so loudly??”
I sulked downstairs, knowing my to-do list would stay to-do. I couldn’t bring myself to apologize. I was still fuming. “I’ll call the management company,” I said tersely.
They told us to put a fan in the upstairs bathroom and call them back in 45 minutes if the smell persisted. (Great advice by the way. Seriously?)
Categories: Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips | Tags: anxiety, baby napping, baby naps, baby sleeping, dark, irrational anger, mom, mom solution, nap, sleep, sleep deprivation, stroller, stroller naps
Monday, July 18th, 2011
My baby sleeps in the bathroom. It’s perhaps my best trick of motherhood. But before the sleep Nazis get all over me, let me smugly clarify: she goes down like an angel for 12 hours in her crib at night. Ferber is a genius. With naps though, his methods fall short for me. And Fi.
For months I’d get anywhere from 29-31 minutes, at most twice a day, in the crib. Hardly enough time to wash a dish, pet the cat or write a blog. Our Brooklyn apartment is very loft-like and her room and the downstairs bathroom are the quietest places in the house. But the bathroom has something her bedroom doesn’t: total darkness (if I make her room dark, I can’t run the a/c window unit).
I happened upon my baby-in-the-bathroom trick when a guy was coming over to install a safety gate (this, after my husband threw his drill across the room in frustration, proclaiming KidCo had “ruined his day.”) I knew the handy man would be pounding near her bedroom. Desperately I tried to think of where to put her.
Categories: Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips | Tags: baby napping, bathroom, crib, crib naps, dark, darkness, Ferber, Ferberizing, nap, nap in stroller, nap on a schedule, naps, noise, sleep, sleep training, stroller naps