My kids often crack me up.
They are indeed a constant source of belly laughs for me, which I am grateful for because it definitely makes the difficult task of raising them up interesting and of course less stressful! Some time back when my pre scholar saw a mixed race child with big hair for the first time he screamed look, look, there’s Jerry from Tom and Jerry, obliviously pointing at the boy with the big curly hair.
Up to now I haven’t yet been able to figure out the connection between the cartoon character and the coloured child and have simply put the strange comparison down to the complicated way a child’s mind works. And then there was the time my oldest saw a muslim woman wearing their traditional or religious dress otherwise known as Hijab at a restaurant playground and he screamed: “Thief, thief” while running away from her.
I could have died from the embarrassment as his screams focussed other parents’ attention on me. The one I wouldn’t forget the most however was when the same boy saw a high profile career woman with loads of colourful make up in a supermarket and screamed: “Cat” at the top of his voice, hiding his face in my chest.
Back then he was scared of cats and called anything scary a cat. It made me think about how make up, which is supposed to enhance one’s beauty can actually achieve the opposite effect! Most recently the same boy, now six years of age asked if he could be Indian when he grows up.
Now that got me thinking hard. I have heard about kids wanting to be white when they grow up but the Indian wish totally caught me by surprise. It however made me realise that the colour and culture issue is one that parents can’t avoid talking about even from an early age! We have many Indian neighbours and I have an Indian friend who particularly gets on well with the boy.
In fact these two like each other so much that when this friend playfully offered him to accompany her to India, the little boy packed his bag and said his goodbyes to us! The trip needless to say never took place but I guess it’s this bond he has with this woman that planted this hilarious thought into my son’s impressionable mind that it would be somehow a great idea to turn into an Indian when he grows up.
I must admit that before then I had never seen the need to talk about skin colour, race and different cultures with the children hoping that simply not mentioning it will show them that it was not a big deal, but after the above conversation I realise that the race talk is unavoidable. The question however is at what age is it appropriate and how does one start the whole conversation? Any suggestions out there can be sent to [email protected]