Black History Month

As Wren gets older (she turns four next month), we are becoming more mindful of her awareness of our differences.  It started innocently enough last summer.

“Mommy,” she says as she points to her toe. “I’m brown.”  I asked her what colour I was, to which she replied, “Apple juice.”

A couple of weeks ago, she caught me off guard.  What she said made me uncomfortable.

 

“Mommy, I’m black.”

 

I asked her how she knew she was black, and she said her friends told her.

Honestly, those words stung me.  I can’t really explain it.  Shouldn’t she have learned that basic fact about herself from me?

 

We read storybooks all the time that feature African Americans.  I commissioned an artist to sketch a Martin Luther King, Jr. portrait that hangs in her bedroom.  We compliment her all the time on her hair.  We stress the importance of lotion daily.  We chose a preschool based on its diversity.  So much of what I do is deliberate.

 

I know she is black.

I should have told her.

 

We were asked to speak about our transracial family recently.  I talked about the deciding factors.  Our families are diverse in that we both have siblings that married outside of our race.  The pastor of our very diverse congregation is black.  My lady doctor is black.  Our neighbors are black.  Our co-workers are black.  We knew the child we adopted would not live in a world of white.

So during our own adoption training session when we were asked the following four questions, we honestly could answer yes.

  1. Do I worship with someone in the race I plan on adopting?
  2. Do I work with someone in the race I plan on adopting?
  3. Do I dine with someone in the race I plan on adopting?
  4. Do I live with someone in the race I plan on adopting?

At the time, we knew just answering a checkbox wasn’t enough.  We asked our pastor for his blessing, and we asked the neighbor we bowled with and worshipped with and shared butterscotch pie with (and who reads this blog) for her blessing.  Our family is blessed due to our pre-existing relationships in the race we ended up adding to our family.

 

As Black History Month begins, I am going to take the opportunity to do a better job of letting my daughter know she is black.  I want her to be proud of who she is, because she has every right to be.

 

 

 

Chickadee and Me

Twice a week, big sis Wren goes off to preschool and I’m left with wee Chickadee.

For the first hour, she’ll ask “Where Wren?” at least a dozen times.  “Oh, Wren at school,” she repeats after me.

Chickadee misses her sister A LOT, but she’s come to appreciate alone time with me.  Truth be told, I’ve come to appreciate alone time with her, too.  I have hardly had a chance to be one on one with her, and I was nervous about what to expect.

Right now we’re listening to Daddy’s upbeat Celtic music, and the Scotch Irish in her is showing through.  She’s a twirlin’ and clapping to the strong beat.

She’s asking for a dance parter, of which I’m her only option, so… until next time.  :)

The Swarming of Yellow Jackets

(Warning:  Not for the faint of heart.)

An idyllic moment turned catastrophic.  Two weeks ago on Thursday, my girls and I were playing with the water hose in the backyard as I was tending to the plants when we were suddenly, and without warning, attacked by yellow jackets. Chickadee was stung first, then Wren, and then they came for me.  There were dozens upon dozens of them swarming us, so I scooped up Chickadee and we ran into the house.

There were so many, and as I was trying to make sense what was happening, my first thought was “Have killer bees made it to Virginia?” – Polly

They followed us into the house, and I instinctively grabbed the house phone to call my husband before I realized that the yellow jackets had followed us in and were unrelenting in their assault.   Continue reading

Theology for Three Year Olds

Every so often, about once a week, I like to ask Wren some questions about her understanding of God. Usually, I’m met with a blank stare and a responding question about goldfish or pretzels. However, we’ve been making progress.

Last week, I asked her “Do you know who God is?” She replied, “God is.” I commented that her answer was more profound than she realized and then I’m pretty sure she asked for the iPad.

Then we had the sweetest exchange last night.

Me: Do you know who lives in space?
She: Outer space?
Me: Yes, do you know who lives in outer space?
She: [No response.]
Me: Do astronauts live in outer space?
She: No.
Me: Do aliens live in outer space?
She: No.
Me: Well, then. Who lives in outer space?
She: The planets.

Me: Did you know that we live on planet Earth? And God made the Earth. And God made the moon, the planets and outer space. God made mommy, and God made Wren.
She: God made daddy?
Me: Yes, He did.
She: God made Fauna (her name for Chickadee)?
Me: Yes, He did.
She: God made Susie (our dog)?
Me: Yes, He did.
She: God made the car?
Me: Yes, he made the ore and man processed those materials, and the fossil fuels which run the car.
She: [No response]

Well, it’s a start anyway.

Sleeping Beauties

I was afraid that the three-year old Wren had finally outgrown her naps, but as I write this she is snoozing in her “bed.”

Her little sister is the delicate sleeper.  Once in her crib, she cries as if you’ve just torn a limb from her body.  I guess I have, if she still considers me as one of her appendages.  She was the perfect little sleeper as a newborn.  I remember her sleeping through the night at six weeks and being told by the doctor not to worry.  But then something changed only a month later, and she gave up napping and that’s when the screams began.

We moved Wren out of the shared bedroom and into the playroom and onto the futon.  It was a temporary solution that’s lasted for nearly a year.  Sometimes Wren wants to go back to her old bed, but Chickadee protests.  Wren is the classic toddler tossing to and fro all night long, and this disturbs Chickadee who is also a frightfully light sleeper.

Every night we make the girls hug and kiss and say they love each other.  Despite the many clashings throughout the day, this always resets the mood.  Last week, Wren said, “Nigh-nigh, Fauna.”  She added, “Don’t scream.”

Wren has not always been the easiest to get down for the night either.  She is a snuggly cuddler.  Our most brilliant moment in parenting came when we told her about the princess who sleeps.  And wasn’t Wren a princess?  Doesn’t Wren want to sleep?  I’ve found this trick works to get her in a dress, but I’m astonished it also worked for getting her to remain in her bed.

Sometime not too long ago, Chickadee started napping again.  It has been a welcome respite.  I’m just not ready for Wren to give hers up now.

In Lieu of Blogging

This year, I’ve accomplished a lot of knitting in lieu of blogging and also in lieu of reading for pleasure.  I’m hoping to rectify that last one this month.  I went through my husband’s Nook account, and there are a few titles I’ve downloaded onto my reader:  The Martian by Andy Weir, Redshirts and Old Man’s War by John Scalzi.  These are science fiction, a realm I love to read.  The last time I went on a sci-fi binge like this was roughly five years ago when I discovered Joe Haldeman.

About Race in America and Adoption

Because we were open to transracial adoption (simply put: adopting outside of our race), we were required by our adoption agency to read several books on this topic.  They showed scenarios that were eye-opening.  Why teaching her culture was important.  Who she saw in a mirror might conflict with how she felt.  How my child would be treated in a store would depend on whether she accompanied me or not.

I believe all of the books were written by adoptive parents.

I don’t want to discredit the voices of these parents, because I am one and as such I can learn from them, but where were the voices of the transracial adoptee?  I’ve done a lot of research of my own since, and I have found the voices of many adult transracial adoptees here on the blogosphere.

John Raible, Angela Tucker, Land of a Gazillion Adoptees, among many others.  Somebody get these people a publishing agent!  No, seriously, their stories need to be read by potential transracial adoptive parents. Continue reading