Thursday, June 29, 2006

Awkward question

The kids have been out of school for a week and summer is in full swing around here. The weather has been warmer than usual for this time of year and humid so we have been in the water a lot. In the last week we have taken 2 trips to the beach and I bought a family pass to the local pool. The kids have also spent a lot of time just playing in the yards with the slip & slide, water spouts and our little blow up pool.

Today we were at the public pool. I was on the steps playing with Elyse and Christopher. Another mom asked me how old Elyse is, I told her that she is 2. She also had a 2 year old daughter so we were talking a bit. The older kids would come over and talk to me occasionally too. Since we have been spending a lot of time in the sun the kids are quite tan. I use sunblock #50 on them but it doesn't matter, they are about 152 shades darker than I am.

Then the other mom asked me if my kids were mixed. Mixed. It took about 4 seconds for the question to process through my head. "Yes, I guess they are" I answered. She then told me her kids are mixed too, they are half Chinese she said. Like we were supposed to bond over that fact that we both had kids that are mixed or something.

I then moved away from her a little bit. I had to think about her question. I don't really think of my kids as mixed. The word mixed made me uncomfortable. They are half Caucasian and half Peruvian, so I suppose mixed is a word that can be used to describe them. But it is not a word that I am comfortable using to describe my children. I would never tell them they are mixed, it sounds second rate to me. My kids are not second rate, they are wonderful people.

Now, I know this other mom did not mean to make me feel uncomfortable or to offend me in any way. The more I thought about it the more I realized I have been asked that question before, but in a better way. Occasionally I will be asked about the heritage of my kids father. They will ask if he is Hispanic or Latin. I am always more than happy to share that my kids are in fact half Latin, and no they do not speak Spanish, and yes their dad does speak spanish etc. But the word mixed just took me aback.

Don't even get me started on the forms that I fill out for the kids that inquire about race. I never know how to answer that question.


Blogger Amy A. said...

Just put down human on those forms. Nothing makes an administrator more frustrated!

Probably that mom just wanted to connect with you in a way that was familiar with her. Next time, say they are shaken, not stirred, and see what kind of response you get. Hopefully a laugh! Of course, you would have to deal differently with a person who is intentionally offensive than one who is just looking for common ground.

Hope the rest of your summer is great. Thanks for sharing and making us all think.

4:16 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

haha I was going to say the same thing. "human"

and every child is mixed. Half their mom, half their dad :)

And as for the SPF... I use 60 on my very blonde children and they are darker then myself who stupidly doesn't use any!

6:29 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Awww, I'm sorry her comment made you feel bad. Take comfort in the fact that she surely meant NOTHING by it, and was just making conversation! We live in a hugely racially diverse area and it's not at ALL uncommon to use the word "mixed" - or "biracial" - I guess my kids are mixed too, as their dad is Mexican and I'm the honkiest honky in honkytown. But like you, I'd never dream of mentioning it to them or anyone!

7:41 PM  
Blogger blackbird said...

I never answer the race question on forms - it's an invasion of privacy, I feel.

I don't like the word 'mixed' either -
and I'm not comfortable with why anyone would ask about it these days.

If she had asked me, and I were brave?
I'd say something like:
I suppose...I never really think about things like that.

8:44 AM  
Blogger Chelee said...

That is a weird question "mixed". Technically, we're all mixed with something.

I too never fill out the race section on forms.

Your kids are beautiful!

9:47 AM  

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