A few weeks ago we were having dinner at our fancy local supermarket. We like to go there because davy will actually eat the food and they have a tiny little play area, which she loves. On this particular instance there were two little girls there. They were both Ethiopian, i could tell, because I can spot a habasha a mile away. I am not sure if Davy can yet or was just attracted to the color of their skin. Our girl casually sidles up to these two and says “ Hi, I am Davy and i am from Africa”. They proceeded to play, fight, play, fight and laugh the only way little spunky Ethiopian girls know how. It was instantaneous recognition and kinship. The same thing happened at our friends Abe’s birthday party. She met a little girl, also Ethiopian and they just sidled up in the corner and created their own magic world. Not to say that this doesn’t happen with white kids, it does, but I don’t think it happens with the same intensity and recognition.
I think that as parents in a transracial family we do a solid medium job exposing her to kids like herself. We have a ton of friends who are adopted, our neighborhood and her kindergarten will pretty diverse, but right now our lives are admittedly very white. As adults we have very very few black friends. Whiter than they have ever been in our lives. Portland is a pretty segregated town. We haven’t put ourselves out there as much as we need to be. My friend Lori, who does probably does the best job I know, of creating relationships for herself and her kids with people of color often talks about how you have to make yourself uncomfortable for your kids. She is 1000% right.
I am admitting i made a pretty big mistake this summer. I put Davy in a very very white summer camp. I didn’t think about it. Her friends signed up, I thought “well Davy likes to dance and she loves Corrine and Adam, so lets do it”. What should have i done? Signed her up for the class at our local community center. It’s more diverse. I didn’t think about my kid having different needs than I do. It’s not the biggest mistake I will make as a parent, but I do feel kind of dumb about it.
To make matters worse, she isn’t even really likeing this camp. The first day I picked her up they said (I think I am going to get this a lot). “Oh Your Davy Beach’s Mother”. I answered, I laughed. She just wasn’t listening and running away. It sounds like her. It’s very difficult to get Davy to do something she doesn’t want to do. My daughter, God bless her, is neither a follower or a pleaser. Her teachers love her, because she is so smart and funny and challenging. Would I expect a 18 year old camp counselor to do the same? She only gets to know our girl for a week. I did call the camp and give suggestions to help her, that have worked in school. Like giving her special tasks, or just letting her do her own thing. Things like timeouts don’t work because they will NEVER win a battle of the wills. No they will not.
Yesterday, when I picked her up. The same counselor said “She was better but- she just has her own personality” She did not mean it as a compliment, but I totally took it as one.
So yeah, next year a camp with more diversity and one that has probably seen their fair share of strong sassy black girls. I am glad that Davy is young enough that we still have some time to learn from my mistakes.