“Look Mommy, it’s a black fireman!” “Mommy, look! A BLACK FIREMAN!” Bunder’s yelling this from the second seat of our double stroller as he points to the Fire Station Lego set he’s holding in his lap. Kiki’s strapped in front of him. I’m pushing the rig through the busy aisles of our local Target.
I start to panic. I remember reading in NurtureShock, if I shush Bunder, he’ll think he said something wrong – or worse yet – he’ll think I have something against black people – which I don’t. I love black people! Well, I don’t mean anymore than I love white people or Asians or Hispanics. I’m not saying I love them more – like their race is superior or like I have some weird racial preference. Oh, my, I’m sweating. This is all so not p.c.
The book said not to react in a negative way when children notice racial or ethnic differences. It’s natural for them to notice these differences. As parents, we should not pretend to be color blind, because our kids are definitely not! I know what not to do, but what should I do?
People passing by start to do double takes. As I rush past them, I see them turn to others and start to say, “Did he just say …?”
“A BLACK FIREMAN! LOOK! LOOK! A BLACK FIREMAN!” Bunder’s now singing it as if he’s just created the latest chart-topping hit.
I laugh nervously and pull into a vacant aisle. Squatting next to the stroller, I say, “Yes, yes, I see the black firefighter. You’re right – it is a black firefighter. Do you see the dog? What kind of dog is it? It’s a Dalmatian. See. It has black and white spots. And, OOOOH LOOK! This Lego set comes with a fire hydrant and hose. Oh, that’ll be so much fun to play with when we get home.”
Bunder studies the box and I race to the front of the store hoping to catch an empty checkout lane. Just as we reach the shortest line, three carts deep, Bunder starts singing again, “A BLACK FIREMAN! I SEE A BLACK FIREMAN! A BLACK FIREMAN!”
I smile and nod to the crowd of gawkers as they start to whisper God only knows what. I daydream about being a less conscientious parent – you know – someone who doesn’t try to read about doing everything right in every single parenting moment. If that were the case, I could shush him, tell him to be quiet and threaten to take the Lego set away. Instead, I listen to
“A BLACK FIREMAN! A BLACK FIREMAN! LOOK! A BLACK FIREMAN!”
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