The trials of being the parent to a minority child.

preschool day 2

I knew this preschool thing would be hard for me.  Not only is my baby girl (thanks to those who told me I could call her that!) away from me all day 5 days a week, but then there are so many factors because of her race, language, and adoption status.  I try to keep it positive on the blog even when sharing the uglies, but sometimes a girl just needs to vent.  Maybe tomorrow I will look back at this and think I overreacted, but here is what crosses my mind as I drive away each day.

Do they have any brown dolls?  Maybe they do.  I haven’t checked.  I wasn’t sure that it would make a good first impression if I asked on the first day.  I suppose I will wait a week or so and ask.  I don’t really think it is my business to barge in a go through the toys.

Will one more person rub my kid’s hair?  Seriously and in front of me?  I’ve seen 3 different adults touch her head as we walk by.  Why?  I have decided that it now makes my blood boil.  She isn’t a soft chinchilla.  She is a human, a person, a kid!  Maybe these people rub on everyone’s hair, but I find it hard to believe.

Do you think you could rub my child’s sunscreen in a bit?  You might just be able to spray it on most kids and give it a light swipe, but I do not want to pick my kid up looking like a smurf.  Yes, there is something (You can read all about it on Chocolate Hair Vanilla Care) in sunscreen that turns darker skin blue in color I know that.  Because of this I bought the spray on sunscreen for Odette hoping that a light mist would be easy to rub in.

I could probably go on and on and think of other things that frustrate me, but what point would that serve?

I just sigh.  I don’t know.  Sometimes it is just hard. I knew that being a transracial family would open us up for things like this and I understand that.  I am still new to the whole thing and am learning as I go.  Some say we should pack up and move, but I don’t think that would be best for our family.  She isn’t the only minority student at the preschool, that I know.  Because she has only been there 3 days I haven’t had a chance to meet any of the other kids’ parents.  I think that would be reassuring to me.

Any of you transracial parents out there have any advice?  I know the whole relax, smile, yada yada, don’t sweat the small stuff, but when do advocate for her?  When do I send one of her adoption books in and ask them to read it?  Is that crazy?  What about Chocolate Me or Brown Eyes Brown Skin?  Even three year olds aren’t color blind.  And they shouldn’t be.  But, I want them to know that Odette isn’t the one who doesn’t look like her mommy and daddy.  Help a girl out!  What would you do?

Sarah Signature


7 thoughts on “The trials of being the parent to a minority child.

  1. I am a kinder teacher and I am always patting kids on the head…. man… I never thought anything of it. It is like I do to my own kids… not caressing hair… 😉 I agree about dropping off a dolly and a book. In their defense they might not even think about it. But…. they should! It is no secret that kids come in a million different colors. Even if you are the first adoptive and / or transracial family at the school, you aren’t the first in the world and the daycare teachers should be senaitive to all families! Todd Parr does have some awesome family books. Very colorful! Thanks for blogging about this!

  2. Oh how honest and refreshing you are…I am totally with you on wanting to advocate early. You are a teacher so I am sure her teacher would love some ideas. You are not overreacting. I too think that about myself with my 3 year old, but I assure you that sweet baby of yours will see how much her mommy loves her.

    I am so sorry about the hair thing. It is curiosity. I can’t imagine how annoying it must be, and how much you may want to ask why in the world anyone would do this. I can tell you my precious kids in Chicago pet my hair all day long for 3 years. I would be walking down the hall, and kids would get out of line and touch my hair. I am an adult so I totally understood their curiosity. Your sweet baby is probably annoyed so I love the idea above about telling her how to explain to others how to get their paws off…I taught in a school that was 100% AA, and they just could not believe I was really white. Like real life white. The would touch my hair and yank on it! Oh how I love them. You are an amazing mom, remember that each and every day!!

  3. Ok first of all i just need to say that i officially love you!! Lol i love to see a mommy CONCERNED about their bby girl, rather than just saying “theyll be fine” and shoving off
    I got all sorts of advice starting when people found out i was pregnant and it never stops. Some good and some bad and EVERYONE absolutely KNOWS whats best.
    The best advice i got was this;
    You should trust your instincts as a mommy. God put this precious girl in your life and has taylermade you for her. You will know when something is a true concern and when something is just going to take some adjustment on her part, which is ok:)
    Glean advice from people you trust and pray. Gods word says if we ask for wisdom He will provide it.

    I want to throw a suggestion out there that u can take or leave as u chose, but have you ever considered homeschooling? It seemed to me like a good option for you because
    1. The main place Odette would be getting her confadence and perspective on her skin color, cultural heritage, attitude, and any other hardships she might face is from YOU, not the other kids her age.
    2. You would be able to strengthen the mommy bond and sepparate it from other people even more (you mentioned you were concerned about that, right?)
    And 3. You are wonderful at explaining things and sound like ud be a wonderful teacher:)

    Its completely your choice but it made me think of you because of your special wonderful situation so i wanted to make sure the option had been presented to u

    hope i dont sound pushy!
    I am so encouraged by your posts even though i have yet to be an adoptive mommy
    Thank you again for sharing ur heart so many times over!

  4. Definitely make arrangements to talk to the teacher! You have concerns, she may have questions, make a plan together for the best way to handle situations regarding race and adoption. Also maybe offer to research some Congolese holidays or food to share with the class sometime. I love the idea of sending a book and doll for the classroom.

    As far as hair goes, I think it is important to teach Odette early on how to advocate for herself. Teach her to say (or say for her) something like “Please don’t touch my hair without asking first” even if she doesn’t seem to care. Remember, this isn’t about acquiescing to someone else’s curiosity, it is about instilling power and self-worth in our children. For example, when my DD is with me and someone asks me where she is from, I turn to my daughter and ask her if she wants to tell them. If she says no, I say “Sorry, we aren’t sharing that information today.” It shows my DD and other people that she is in control of her own story. It educates both the child and the other person about boundaries that they may not know they have crossed.

  5. Lindsy, I love the idea of touching their hair back! Haha!

    People touch my son’s head all the time. At first, I tried to assume that it was because he was an infant, but now I’m pretty sure that it’s a curiosity thing, which just annoys me. Idk how to react fast enough so they don’t touch him. Blerg. (Glad I’m not the only parent who finds this to be a big deal…I feel like touching someone’s hair is very intimate so I’m not a fan…)

    I think having a conversation with her teacher/school administrators is a great idea. I think it takes a lot of patience and a lot of educating to be a transracial family. I think it’s probably better to be proactive, especially if you are the only/first transracial family to attend the school. I can tell you there are a number if research studies that talk about the importance of education and children’s ideas of race/ethnicity, and how education directly and indirectly informs our ideas of race and ethnicity. I don’t think you’re iverreacting at all. I think these are critical things to think about and act on.

  6. I really would like to talk with you Sarah. Wanted to wait for you after Mass this week, but had to get Lexi home (wisdom teeth out last Thurs). Lexi has been with us from birth. We did not set out to adopt, but I’ll explain in person if we get the chance. I know you are starting the school year, so perhaps weekend is the only time? I’m at-home mom & grammy, but we go to bed very early so evenings aren’t easy for me. Please do get in touch tho. (566-9086) Marilyn

  7. Well, we don’t have the experience with school yet but I would say it is totally appropriate and not totally crazy to have a conversation with her teacher about your concerns – race, language, adoption – and let her know how you would like them to be handled when they come up in class. If she’s on board then asking her to read a book to the other kids is great. Most kids are asking questions out of curiosity (from my experience) and it’s pretty easy to educate them about why Odette looks and talks differently. (And delivering a brown doll isn’t a bad idea either:-)

    The people touching her heard thing… that’s just weird. I think I might have to reach out and touch theirs in response. Just to give them an idea of how AWKWARD it is to touch someone elses head like that. REALLY?! What are they thinking? Haven’t experience that yet:-)

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