Over the weekend I overheard my daughter talking to my youngest sister about sunscreen. (Remember she’s obsessed with the stuff?) And how even though we have brown skin, we can still burn, it just takes longer.
I tuned out their conversation for a moment while I got our pool items packed in the car.
I didn’t hear exactly what my sister was saying next, but I overheard her say “you’re just your color because you’re a little kid, but when you grow up, you’ll be darker like me.”
I didn’t have the heart to explain otherwise.
My daughter countered with her own conclusions for her lighter skin: “No no. I’m kind of pinkish like my dad, and brown like my mom, and like you! I’m like–”
“Yea yea yea,” my sister cut her off.
I called them to get into the car then told Lil’ J she was right. She’s like her mommy and daddy.
“Yea, I’m like everybody,” she said.
This wasn’t the first time I had heard my biracial daughter say something like this. Actually, just a week or two before she came into the kitchen and professed the same thing while my husband and I had a discussion at the table.
“Mommy, I’m a little pink like daddy,” while pointing to the palms of her hands, and parts of her forearm. “And brown like you!”
She beamed with pride.
“That’s right,” I told her. “And your friends?”
“Well…” She recounted each of her friends in their various shades and said they each were like her. “So I’m like everyone.”
“Kinda like a chameleon?” I said.”
“YEA!” She answered. Excited by her realization.
“Is mommy like everyone too?” I asked.
“No,” she answered point blank. “You’re just brown, and daddy’s just pink.”
“But we’re all the same in other ways,” I reminded her.
In our usual fashion I related the discussion to a Disney movie… Tarzan and the conversation he had with his gorilla mom about them being the same on the inside. … But even more so human to human.
I love the way she sees herself as not only a little bit of her daddy and I, but a little bit like everyone else. I hope that is a sign of the compassion and empathy she holds for others.
I hope that it doesn’t come to this but if/when there will be days she’s called too light or too dark, I want her to remember who she is. A little girl who is part mommy, part daddy, and a little bit lilt everyone else. All while being completely authentic and uniquely herself.
How does your child see him/herself?
~Lil’ J is 4 years 11 months old.