Friday morning while Habtam brushed his teeth, I was doing his hair. He and Lire both want their hair to be "long" so I've been trying to keep up with the tangles by combing and moisturizing on a regular basis. It's actually a really nice way for me to work on our attachment -- they love me combing out their hair, oiling it, giving them a little scalp massage. You don't have to have a girl to do hair!
Anyway, it is a nice time for us, if we're not in a hurry, so we chat sometimes during the grooming. H had rinsed his mouth and was squirting the water from the spray bottle into the sink and watching it drip down the drain. We were discusssing the kids he played with at school. Oh, and names have been changed, of course.
Me: "Who do you like to play with at School?"
H: "Bill most, sometimes Jack."
Me: What about girls? Do you play with any of the girls at school?
H: Jill doesn't play with me anymore.
Me: Why not?
H: She tell me she not like my color skin.
We've talked a bunch about skin color. Why my and Alex's skin is different from his and Lire's, which color is better (yes, he's asked), the kids in school whose skin is like his, etc.
This was the first time he mentioned that anyone had ever said anything like this. I asked him how he felt when she said that. Angry. I told him I didn't blame him, that I was angry that someone had said that to him, and that it was very unkind. I also told him to talk to his teacher or to me and Daddy if someone said something like that again.
He couldn't tell me when it happened, his time sense isn't quite there yet, but I assumed it happened recently. I talked to his teacher after I dropped him off, not naming names, but telling her it had happened. She was disturbed and sad he had had to hear that and said she would do something about it.
Later that day when I went to pick the boys up she reported what had been done. Both Pre-k classes had talked about MLK last week, so she had some of the kids from the other class come into her class and talk about his dream -- basically that his children would be treated the same as other children, no matter their skin color. At the end, H's teacher asked that if anyone had ever said anything hurtful to another student, this would be a good time to say something about it. Apparently the little girl looked guilty, raised her hand, and apologized to H. And he actually said "Thank you" to her! (He doesn't talk much at school).
I was glad that I hadn't mentioned the girl's name to the teacher. She said she asked H the same question I had "who do you like to play with at school" and he repeated what he had told me that morning. The little girl was inspired to apologize without too much haranguing by any of us, which is probably a good thing.
The funny thing is that Al brought H to our local Children's Museum today for a Daddy and Me program, and the little girl was there! She shouted out H's name and they played in the museum together for a while (well, as much as H plays with girls).
Our first experience with the issue of race. And not our last.