Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Secret Agent

Let's just say the kids weren't exactly stoked when they learned the TV was tuned to something boring yesterday morning instead of that thrill-a-minute show also known as the Backyardigans - and would remain that way for the entire day.

I had to explain, at least to the five year-old, that this was a day he probably wouldn't remember but was very, very important.


"Because we have a new president."

"Barack Obama is our new president?"

"That's right. It's very exciting."

"But who's going to be president after him?"

Let's just see how Obama does - hopefully for the next eight years. I then said that it was also a big moment because Obama is our first Black president, and that when Mommy was born, no one thought this would ever be possible.

"But Mommy, he's not black. He's brown."

"Well, yes. People come in all different colors. Barack's Mommy was white and his Daddy was black. Just like you and Daddy are part Asian and Mommy is white."

Now, as these words were coming out, I realized I was about to careen down a very slippery slope. The fact is I have mixed-race kids (throw in that they're also technically Jewish, and my children have a lot going on!). It's part of who he is. Out here in The OC, kids who are half or a quarter Asian are not unusual at all.

But maybe five is too young to talk about it.

I'm sure Sawyer has never for a second thought about this. Which is the way it should be. He doesn't think it's odd at all that his grandmother has an accent. Or that she sometimes speaks another language on her cell phone. He probably thinks every grandmother cooks bulgogi, right?

I guess I was trying (not very successfully) to explain 1) why Obama's presidency is such a big deal and 2) point out that it doesn't matter what color you are.

I think I entirely succeeded in confusing him. Because a couple hours after our discussion, he said "Mommy? What am I? Action? I'm part Action?"

"What? No, part Asian."

"Oooh. Like Secret Agent."



Swirvin said...

I had a very similar conversation with my two on Tuesday and I swear my dd said the exact same thing about Obama being brown not black when I tried to explain the importance of watching the inauguration.

We are a multicultural/bilingual family (my kids are 1/4 American, 1/4 Panamanian,1/2 Belgian) too but nothing quite as cool as secret agents ;-)

Cheryl said...

It's an odd conversation to have, isn't it? I don't know if I've ever seen pics of your kids - they must be gorgeous! As for being bilingual, the two languages we speak are "inside voice" and "outside voice." ;)

Simply Lovely Gifts said...

Had a similar conversation with Jack on this. We really just focused on how skin color doesn't matter, what's important is that you're a good person who treats people nicely. And then he went on to point out that dogs are in all different colors & they don't care/treat each other differently, fish are different colors, etc. Ahh the simplicity!!!

Kelli/Plangirl said...

We were tuned in all day, DH even took the day off to watch. We made Will sit and watch when they swore him in. He was excited that we have a new President.

The color issue has not come up, even though we have one black grandma and one white grandma. My son is just worried about whether the FUN grandma is coming over...

Cheryl said...

Yes. Racism. A definite learned behavior. I wish everyone could be as oblivious to it as kids are.

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