It was a typical Friday afternoon and I was picking up my 6 year old from summer day camp. I was reading a notice about the outing for the following week when I heard my daughter talking to her friend. I didn't know the friend and it became obvious very quickly the friend didn't know our family either.
"She can't be your mom! Your skin don't match!" the new friend shrieked.
I turned around to see another brown 6 year old standing next to my own, whose face was now a mile long. My heart broke. I could see the embarrassment written all over my daughter. We have talked about these moments and even practiced with her what to say when someone questions the make up of our family. She knows that families come in all shapes and shades. She knows we all match on the inside even when our outsides don't. None of this mattered on a Friday afternoon in August at the YMCA summer day camp.
I quickly introduced myself to the new friend. Her father walked in the door seconds after her comment and I introduced myself to him as well. I asked the usual get-to-know-you-questions like where do you go to school, what grade are you in, do you live near by, maybe we can have a play date sometime soon. I was in saleswoman mode, selling the concept of my family to this one.
It didn't help much. Madison just stared at the ground. I wanted to throw up. I know you know what this feels like. I know you know how much it hurts a mother to watch her child in pain. We loaded into the mini van and headed home. I tried to talk about how she felt when the new friend questioned how I could be Madison's mother, but my baby wasn't talking. She would only nod her head in response to my questions.
Yes, she was embarrased.
Yes, the conversation made her feel bad.
Yes, she wished I was brown instead of pink.
I know this isn't the first time and certainly won't be the last time someone in my house is going to wish I was brown. Life would be so much easier if we all matched. Unfortunatly, that is never going to happen no matter what I do or say. Kindergartners are very accepting of differences, but I am not so naive to think life as a transracial family will stay so simple. When we first considered adoption, I thought love was enough. Period. Love could conquer all and fix everything. Six years later I know otherwise. While love is essential to any family, it takes more to make it through the hard times.
I love my children more than I could even explain. I love my children so much it scares me sometimes. I make lots of mistakes with the very best of intentions. I wish I could take away her pain when someone makes her feel less than ideal. I can't take it away. So instead I try to show her how to handle these situations. In hindsight (and with a little help from my pink parent brigade), I wish I had turned that experience into a teaching moment for the new friend. I wish I had addressed the confusion about my being Madison's mom head on. I wish I could have showed Madison how to address the question directly rather than just try to win a friend. I wasn't ready this time, but I will be ready the next time. And there will be a next time. This I know for sure.