OK, the girls and I are sitting on the sofa the other night, looking through my copy of the Playgroup Cookbook. Now, the Playgroup Cookbook is a project that Mrs. Nielson put together when the first of our playgroup hens flew the coop a few years ago. She collected a couple of recipes from each of us, and then put it together with pictures, quotes, and it is really very beautiful. SO beautiful, in fact, that once we saw how great our collective gift to Allison was, we all decided we had to have one. (And? Mrs. Nielson totally made it happen!)
So, we three girls are looking at this book, when I point out a picture of me reading a book to the kids at playgroup one day. I mention that in the picture I’m pregnant with DD2. I kid you not (with Husband as my witness) DD2 looked up at me and said, “That was before you knew you were having white babies?”
What in the world? This is like the 4th time she’s referred to my not being white. The thing is? I am white – just like her. I have darker skin than she does (she is very fair) – but my sister doesn’t. My sister is actually darker than I am, and she thinks Aunt S is “white”. But… not me. For some reason she sees me as “brown”, and she was a little crushed when I looked right at her the other night and said, “Honey? I am white. My skin is a little darker than yours, but I’m still white like you.”
Now, let me clarify something... she has made it clear in the past that she doesn’t think I’m good looking. (And? If you knew my daughter this wouldn't shock you - she is truthful to a fault) I have many examples of this, the funniest of which is when she was 3 years old she started to have an obsession with lip gloss. She was in the car with me one day and playing with her gloss, and she said, “I wear lipstick.” I said, “Just like mama! You look so pretty.” She shoots back without a hint of irony, “Oh mama. You not pretty.” (It was too funny to even be humiliating, trust me.)
She wants to be like her sister – who looks nothing like me (and has olive skin, I might point out). I'm not concerned that she doesn’t think I’m pretty… she loves me to distraction and is heart and soul a mommy’s girl. I have never been a great beauty. I adjusted to this a LONG time ago. I’m not ugly, I’ve just always been one of those girls that the longer you knew me the cuter I got. But I wonder if her thinking I’m brown is her way of distancing herself from the way I look? Maybe she sees me as something different so she doesn’t have to worry about looking like me?
Or? Maybe the world is changing and she just thinks that people of different races are just naturally part of the same family. That it wouldn't be unthinkable that her mom could be "brown" even if she herself was "white".
I will tell you, though, that I have tried to curb my sadness around her. Because if I tell her I'm blue? She'll be ruined for life!