Friday, December 30, 2011

Is love colorblind?

"I made you black." William said, kind of sheepishly.  We were sitting in the play area at the mall.  Antwan and Lizzie were playing.  I had ordered William to take a break from his new Nintendo 3ds, so he could get some exercise.  But, instead, he had moved on to telling me about everything that he had done on his 3ds. 

He was telling me about the avatars he had made.  "I made you, but I made you black."  He went on to say that he had made Daddy black, too.  I don't think he was sure how I would react, and I didn't really know how to react.  So, I asked him, "Is that what you wish?  Do you wish we were black?"

He paused and said "Yes and no." 

Even though, it wasn't much of an answer.  I could tell it was the most he wanted to give and, anyway, I still kind of got it.  It would be much simpler if we were all black.  But then again, we wouldn't be us. 

I've come a long way from the beginning of our lives as parents.  Right after adopting the boys, we were interviewed on the news as part of a story about adopting transracially.  I was very cavalier about saying the color didn't matter.


But, now I realize, it does matter.  It matters because it's who we are and it's who they are.  It matters because for their entire lives, they will be black and have white parents, and that's unusual.  But, that's not necessarily a bad thing.  I don't want my children to focus on the color of their skin and the different color of ours.  But, at the same time, I don't want them to be afraid to acknowledge it.  Tricky stuff.

Now that Antwan is getting older, he's noticing it more.  The other day, he told me that he wished he was "yellow" like me. I responded by talking about how beautiful his skin is.  He seemed unimpressed by this.  And, when I was telling him a story about me as a baby, he asked me if my skin was brown like his.  I thought that was interesting.  And, boy, is he going to be surprised when he stays black! ;)

The other day, William said hello to a classmate in the grocery store.  After they passed, he said, "I think he thought you were my babysitter."  That was the first time he had given any indication that he worried about it.  We talked about it, a little; as much as you can in a grocery store.  He admitted that he worried about people not knowing that I'm his mom.  There wasn't a lot that I could say.  If there was, I couldn't think of it.  I couldn't tell him that it would get better because it won't.  There will always be confusion.  Evidenced by the fact that I had a whole conversation with a mom at Antwan's school.  She looked confused then finally said, "Oh! Are you his mom?"  It was then that I remembered that it's not obvious. :)

But, the love is obvious.  I look at these children and I don't see my black children.  I see my children.  My amazing, beautiful, intelligent children.

Every family has complications.  Well, this is ours.  I can laugh when I accidentally confuse a mom or see the surprise in a child's eyes as we pass.  Or I can dwell and worry.  This was the advice that I gave William.  To try to find the humor in it and accept that it's going to happen.  But, me, honestly, I do both.  It is amusing, but I do worry about how they will handle it as they get older.  I know more comments are coming and I can only hope we are preparing them.  When the kids at William's preschool asked why his mom was pink, we laughed.  But, when a kid asks him about me (I know it will happen) and it's mean and deliberate.  It's not going to be so funny.  That scares me.

Does this mean that we shouldn't have adopted them?  No, of course not.  There is no doubt in my mind that we did the right thing.  We did the right thing because they needed a home and we needed children to love.  We did the right thing because they were always our children before we ever met them.  We did the right thing because life would not have been the same without them, specifically them.  We adopted these children and no other children would've been the right children for us.
Is love colorblind?  William said it best, "yes and no."  But, love is unconditional.  And, Brian and I, the white parents of our black children will love them forever.  We will always be white and they will always be black.  We will always confuse the heck out of people.   And, there will be times that they will wish we were different, but, frankly, that would happen, anyway. :) 

Well, moments after he told me that he made us black and I still had heavy thought in my head, he also said he made me bigger than Daddy and gave Daddy glasses.  Then he started rattling on about his Mario Kart game.  I think we're going to be ok.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I am happy to be his mom.

It is a known fact that if I sit down anywhere in my house, I won't be sitting there alone very long.  Because there will soon be a little Parker ready to visit. 

The kids were happily playing so I sat down in my beloved recliner and opened my laptop.  I was ready to sneak in a few minutes of internet time.  But, moments later, there was there was Antwan.

I love how he cuddles into me.  It is very sweet, despite the fact that it makes it harder for me to click the mouse. :)

I looked at him and, feeling sentimental, I asked him "Do you know how happy I am that I'm your mommy?"

He looked at me, thoughtfully, and said "42!"

I don't know what I thought he'd say, but that definitely wasn't it.  But, when you think about it, 42 is a pretty big number.  So, although, there is no way to accurately measure the love I feel for that boy; I suppose if I had to guess...42 seems pretty accurate. :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Watching Television During Dinner.

We usually have the tv on during dinner.  I've never been quite sure how I feel about that, but I know that Brian and I both like the background noise.  Of course, this usually means that one of the kids has to be told, at some point, to stop watching tv and eat dinner. 

Who has time for dinner?  Bubble Guppies is on!

The other night, there was an (apparently) irresistible episode of Spongebob on and Lizzie and Antwan kept turning around in their chairs to watch.  Finally, I decided it was time to take a stand!

So, I got up to turn off the tv.  Lizzie and Antwan both frantically asked me not to do it.  But, in my best "I used to walk 30 miles" tone, I said, "When I was a kid, Grandma turned the tv off every night during dinner." 

As I sat down, William, in all sincerity, said "I thought they didn't have tv's back then.."

I may have taken a stand, but I got knocked down a peg.... :)

I wish that Mom had gotten a chance to watch tv when she was my age.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My son doesn't like change.

"I'm scared to turn 9." 

It was the last thing that we expected to hear.  After days of random and inexplicable behaviors, William finally said those words to Brian.

And, suddenly it made sense.  We understood why just a few days before his birthday, William was refusing to do his work, drawing on his pants, and, generally, breaking rules.  He was freaking out. 

William doesn't like change.  In the first five years of his life, change meant he was going somewhere new to someone new.  To someone who may or may not be nice to him, take care of him, and make him feel secure.  When he left his last foster home to come to us, his foster father broke the news by saying "You gotta go."  I'm not sure if that's exactly what happened, but that's what he thinks happened.  So, that's all that really matters.

He acts out at the beginning of the school year, the end of the school year, and even before family vacations.  So, once he admitted he was scared, it was so obvious.  Most kids look forward to their birthdays.  They are excited about getting older.  But, William just feels more pressure and uncertainty about what being a year older means for him. 

This was the first time he was afraid of a birthday or at least that he told us that he was.  I don't know what it was about 9 years that intimated him so much, but there it was.  And, just like that (although he didn't escape consequences), I wasn't mad at him anymore.  I was just worried.

We talked about the positives.  Brian talked about how much he had enjoyed being 9.  We talked
about how he was going to be turning 9, no matter what he did, so he should accept it and see the good in it.  I reminded him that acting out and making it hard for people who care about him wasn't right.  Brian talked to him about all the things that made him special like being in chorus, being so smart, and his sense of humor.  Things that were not going to change.  And, above all, we asked him (again) to talk to us, just talk to us.

And, the acting out stopped.  He said he was going to try very hard to have a good day at school, the next day, and he did.  On the way to school, he told me that he was really happy that his birthday was on a Saturday and he could be home with me.  He also said that he was now happy about turning 9. 

And, the birthday was like a birthday should be.  He woke up, extremely wired, too excited to eat the special breakfast that I had made him.  He was so excited that I was exhausted by mid-morning.  Just like it's supposed to be.

I know that we haven't solved all of William's issues with our pre-birthday conversation.  It's so unfair that he had to go through everything he went through and still have to live it in his head.  But, he's doing better than he was last year and I'm doing better at handling him when he's not.  Our challenges will continue, but progress is progress.  I'll take what I can get. 

So, after the cake, the singing, and, of course, the presents; William decided he was really happy about being 9.  He said he was "used to it now."

And, I'm happy that he's nine and maybe a little scared.  It is a new year with new challenges and new progress.  But, on the day, he turned 9 yeard old, I got a nice day with one of the loves of my life.  Not a bad way to spend a Saturday. :)