I just want to protect my children. I want to sweep away the evil forces in the world and raise them in a blissful bubble of peace, love and happy faces.
But today, I had the chance to stand up to a bigoted little girl, and I blew it. I couldn’t think straight. My fight-or-flight response said FLIGHT rather than fight. I guess that’s the product of growing up as a nice girl. The possibility of a confrontation with her caregiver didn’t even cross my mind until I was outta there.
Giovanna and I were at Playdate SEA, a new-ish indoor playground in Seattle’s South Lake Union Neighborhood, when a 4 or 5 year old girl started advertising for a playmate. Gigi wanted to play, but the girl ran away from her. Repeatedly. Gigi returned to the table where I sat, defeated and upset and confused as to why the girl wouldn’t play with her.
Then, the girl came out of the play structure and circled our table calling out, “I want a friend to play with WHO HAS BLONDE HAIR LIKE ME.” She did this several more times, repeating this phrase in different iterations, coming and going and lingering to make sure we heard her, while I cleared the table and put on our shoes and convinced my sweet girl it was time to leave.
I know it wasn’t just the blonde hair that the girl believed Gigi was missing, it was the white skin, too. Though I was grateful that this girl could not yet articulate this part of her desire, I wondered how long it would be until she could. I prayed that Gigi wouldn’t understood what was happening, but the look in her eyes told me otherwise. I got her out of there, but she wouldn’t stop talking about the girl.
I just wanted to play with her! I just wanted ___! Can we go back?
I explained to her that not every girl is nice, and we don’t have to be friends with people who aren’t nice. What else was I supposed to say?
Why was she not not nice?
I told her that some people are unhappy and so they try to make other people unhappy, too. I asked her if she was happy, and she nodded her head yes. Relief flooded my shaking heart.
I took her to a book store in search of a distraction. She couldn’t find it in herself to get out of the car, she could only talk about her lost friend. So I carried my girl down the block, all 32 pounds wrapped around my shoulders, and I reminded her how very loved she is. I entertained the idea of returning to the scene of the crime, but I knew it would only deepen the wound for my baby. We needed to get as far from the girl as possible.
I failed to confront the girl’s caregiver. I will never forgive myself. But I’m doing everything I know how to do in search of invisible redemption. I wrote an email to a sizable list serve of parents in Seattle, describing the event, searching for the girl’s parents, hoping against all odds that the right person will read it.
And now, I’m telling this story here. Because so many people, especially in the liberal city of Seattle, want to believe that racism is fading like newspapers and land lines. But this day is proof that there are children out there picking up strange ideals and spreading them like a disease.
Please don’t let your child be like the girl. Please celebrate diversity in your home and teach your children that the beauty of the human race lies in our differences. What would a rainbow be without the spectrum of colors?
If you have had a similar experience, I would love to hear about it, and your reaction. Post in the comments section or email me at lucy[at]lucilleinthesky[dot]com. Thank you.
We have so many sweet friends.