Our new neighbors moved in a few weeks ago, and, like most people in suburbia, we peered through the curtains to spy on the newbies to see what they were all about.
There was good news. It looked like they had a boy about the same age as ours, along with a new infant. #omnomnom
As the boy was playing in the backyard one day, my son went to the window and said “Hey! He’s got black skin!”
It wasn’t done with any animosity or judgment. It was just one of those observations that 5-year-olds make. It was the same sort of amazement that might have led him to say “Hey look, that guy has one leg!”
My son was simply impressed that there are different types of people in the world. It was my wife and I who cringed a little at his outburst, and the first week of school has made things even more awkward.
When I asked him if he had made any new friends thus far in the school year, he said “My black buddy is in my class.”
“Zacharie, that boy’s name is Tony,” I replied.
“Yeah, Tony. My black buddy,” was the affirmation that I received in return.
Last year, my son’s best friend in his class came from a wealthy family. It was my wife and I who were awkward with the situation, not the boys.
So again this year we are faced with a self-imposed awkward challenge when it comes to our son and his friends. Last year there was a South Asian girl in his class and my son made no mention of her appearance. My best friend is Filipino, and my son has never said a word. This time though, he’s saying stuff that makes us both jump to say “Shhhhh! Zacharie!”
I’m taking it as a very valuable chance to teach our son that people are people, skin color doesn’t matter, and we’re all equal. I’ve told him that people who have Nanas and Grandpapas from very hot countries can have darker skin. “It’s like a sunscreen,” I’ve told him.
In the world of “Why?” that comes from my kindergartener, I have no problems presenting him with facts and truth. This is just another one of those times, another opportunity for him to learn and appreciate that all people are different.
While my son may have noticed that people have varying physical features, he isn’t treating anyone differently. And that’s a win for sure.
In the end, it’s the parents who end up over-thinking the situation.
What has your kid blurted out about the neighbors?
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