In college, a friend said to me that I would be so exotic-looking if I just had different colored eyes. What I heard in that moment was that I wasn’t different enough to be interesting, just different enough not to be considered. At that point, the way I looked was uncommon- there weren’t girls who looked like me in the media, there weren’t even girls who looked like me on campus. And here is what I found during that time, that the solitary experience is often just that solitary, lonely.
When it came time to bring home a child who wouldn’t (immediately- who knows what the future holds) look like someone in our family (not that anyone in our little family looks alike, as we don’t), we were cognizant of the fact that though we couldn’t change how we looked, we could change our make-up in other ways. We could have diverse books, enjoy our diverse friendships and diverse neighborhood, choose a school with diversity, etc. We could celebrate a breadth of holidays, enjoy diverse cultural offerings, go to a doctor’s whose waiting room was diverse. And when I say diversity, I mean in all ways not just ethnic diversity.
Anyway, I thought it would be at least another year before Happy really noticed ethnic and racial identity, and it still might be, in terms of bigger picture stuff, but he is already aware of his identity and it is so touching to see.
Lately, when we read HOORAY FOR ME which is one of my favorite books to read to Happy, he points himself out in the book.
Happy carefully points to the three brownest faces on this page and says his name with each point. The other day he also said Mommy and Daddy and pointed to 2 people. Who did he choose to represent us? Well, of course, the blond with purple barrettes for Mommy (I am thinking he chose based on the smile. Ha) and the older, balding gentleman with glasses just behind mommy’s left shoulder for Daddy. Actual daddy has a beard, no glasses, a headful of hair and is younger, but this is about Happy seeing himself in the world so I’m not going to let BF worry about the fact that Happy put 30 years on him.
While reading another book, Happy looked at this picture and said, “Happy in Stroller.”
To be fair, this is literally how Happy spent the first 5 months of his life with us, in that stroller most of every day as we walked all over town because he was only happy outside and he only slept in the stroller. So I totally see why he thinks the baby in the fleece winter one all in the stroller is him.
When we come to this page in Please Baby Please, Happy looks at the little boy on the right and says, very concerned, “Happy crying.” And because I am nothing if not a teacher and Happy doesn’t always share, I can’t resist the teaching moment of pointing out that Happy is crying in that picture because Baby (the little girl on the left) isn’t sharing. And do we share? Yes, we do! Go Happy!
And, then, later I do a little happy dance of my own that Happy can see himself in his world and write a reminder on my heart to always make the effort for that to be so.