All gone, mommy she says pointing to her arm and standing still dripping wet in the bathtub.
Yes, all gone. Mommy cleaned you.
All gone, mommy she repeats pointing to her belly this time.
Yes, baby I know. Big belly will be all gone soon. Remember you’re taking medicine to make your belly little.
No, mommy. Odettey brown all gone. I be pink like mommy and daddy.
No, you’re brown. Brown is beautiful.
Brown good? No, brown bad.
Brown is very good, Odettey. Jesus made you brown. Jesus made you beautiful. Jesus made you smart. Jesus made you brown. Brown is good. Brown is beautiful.
No, brown bad. Pink good. I be pink like mommy and daddy.
Odette, Jesus made you brown because He wants you to be brown. I then named off everyone I could think of that she knows who is brown. Lots of brown in Congo. Odette is from Congo. Odette’s Congo mommy is brown. Your Congo daddy is brown. Brown is good. Brown is beautiful. Mommy loves brown Odettey.
Odettey say, please Jesus I be pink, pleeease.
At that moment the world stood still but my mind raced. How could this be? Where did we go wrong? Oh no. She wasn’t supposed to have these thoughts yet. I knew they would happen some day, but already? What do we do? How can we reassure her? Why did this come about today? Did something happen? How can we help? What do we tell her? How long will these thoughts last? …
As I do at the end of every bath, I wrapped her in an “Odettey taco”, lifted her up into my arms, and rocked her as I sang rock-a-bye baby. (Her nightly request) I only wish I had the words to share with her now truly special, wonderful, and perfect she is. I wish I had a way to tell her that I couldn’t love her any more that I do no matter if she is brown, pink, or blue.
Being a transracial family is a twenty-four hour a day, seven days a week reality that we will always face. Tonight’s bedtime stories included these books. I’m thankful I had them on hand.