Yesterday when I picked my girls up from school, my youngest had a huge hole in her backpack and my oldest had ripped out the tongue of her tennis shoe rendering it useless as it wouldn’t stay on her foot. Off to the mall we go…. Of course, they are starving so we make a pit stop in the food court. They all want Chinese food. Score! I only have to stop at one place! While waiting, my oldest starts doing this obnoxious, rude, and racist fake Chinese/Asian accent (I assume Chinese because we were getting Chinese food?). In her ear I tell her stop and threaten things that make her go completely pale. When we get to the table she tells me she has no idea why she was corrected. I explain that it is incredibly racist and that is not how their beautiful language actually sounds. She tells me that the dog in Looney Tunes wears a pointy hat, sticks out his front teeth, makes his eyes “squinty” (her words), and speaks the same way. So, I have to explain that cartoons were known for being inappropriate and while we still have an incredibly long way to go, that’s why she does not see them in her recent cartoon favorites.
She then tells me that a friend at school who is half Japanese does it all the time and that’s where she learned it. I then have to explain that you are allowed to say things when you share that culture and use words that other cultures cannot or should, when you belong to it. She says “so I’m part Native American so I can make fun of them?” My answer, “honey, you have platinum blonde hair and blue eyes, you will never be allowed to make fun of any culture ever and you shouldn’t anyway. Besides, you have pride in your culture and I can’t imagine you finding something bad to say.”
The conversation went on longer and I hope I made some sense, and taught her the beginning of understanding racism (which in case anyone is wondering, ignoring differences and pretending we are all the same is NOT the answer either). The family behind us with two younger children got up to leave. The mom leans over me and says, “well done, I’m not prepared for those conversations.” Neither….am….I. I did learn how I feel about some things and remembered things we don’t really think about by having this discussion though.
So, this conversation has been on my mind and makes me think of all the things my daughters and being part of a family has taught me. Often, I am surprised to discover how I feel about a something when I start speaking on the subject with my daughters. Sometimes, when I explain something I didn’t think I really understood and actually explain well, I’m convinced I’m brilliant! Other times, I crash and burn. So what have I learned?
- It is a myth that boys are more active than girls. Yes, they play differently, but sheer energy, it depends on the kid, not the junk.
- Girls notice boys WAY before they notice them.
- There is so much I don’t know. The more you learn the more you realize you don’t know.
- If you bathe with a man, only your boobs get clean (seriously guys, there are way dirtier parts that need attention).
- Even when your kids sleep through the night, you never sleep the same way again.
- You will have to repeat yourself constantly. To the point that I’m considering making signs on sticks so while I’m sitting on the couch, I can simply hold up the correct phrase and go back to reading.
- My children are equally brilliant and brain-dead. My youngest explained that “grandparents and parents have to die because people keep having babies and we would all be squished together. If we live too close, people would get sicker because you shouldn’t touch people all the time.” So, she has figured out population control but hello, use a fork, change your underpants, and use soap in the damn shower!
- Your kids will forgive you, even when you don’t deserve it.
- People who have a dog and no kids should NEVER compare the level of responsibility or tell parents how “busy” they are. It makes us stabby. We are not superior, just exhausted.
- Kids are mean to each other…I mean, really fucking mean.
- As your kids get older, they can actually be helpful. Who knew? However, you have to actually make them help, you are not the maid.
- It’s incredibly tough to balance the lesson of independence and desperately wanting to protect them from everything (but then, they would experience nothing).
- Patience is not a virtue I was blessed with, but I swear my children have made it their freaking mission to teach it to me.
- There are always going to be people who judge you for being too good or not good enough, with absolutely no information at all (these are usually the loudest). All should be ignored.
- The lava game never gets old.
I’ve learned more than that but no one really cares to read it all. I’m just not that important, and that’s OK. The point is, for all your lessons, corrections, and teaching, your children will teach you as much as you teach them. Listen.