Ariel is about to turn 5. She is in a serious nurturing stage. Perhaps its due to me constantly bringing home babies or perhaps it’s because God simply gave her a sweet spirit. Either way she babies her stuffed dogs like they are actual children. It’s so precious it actually hurts.
I found a gem in the garage of a dalmatian puppy toy that I thought she would love to play with, so I offered it to her. She responded with “Well I don’t know mom (she calls me mom like a teenager. ugh!). My other mommy puppy would be ok with [the dalmatian puppy] but Aurora (the ‘baby’ puppy) would be scared of [the dalmatian puppy] because she looks different.”
Gut check. Where was this coming from? My children happen to be especially blessed to have what I call a ‘rainbow family’. Some cousins are half black and half white and some cousins are half Filipino and half white. It’s a fantastic model to teach kids that all kids/humans are the same even though God made us different, like the color of our hair, the color of our eyes and yes even the color of our skin. We are all unique and different and yet the same. We are all God’s created works of art. And frankly, because the lesson is so obvious I never thought I’d really have to teach about racism. I thought we were free and clear of this hard life lesson. Guess I was wrong.
So to hear this out of her mouth shocked me. I immediately sat down and talked to her. Important to note, I didn’t lecture. Instead I asked questions. I wanted to find out where her heart was at. Was she really scared of different-than-her-looking people?
Mommy “Why would Aurora [puppy] be scared?”
Ariel “Because she looks different”
M “Do you think Aurora should be scared because [the dalmatian dog] looks different?”
Ariel (pause) “No. Cleo (the mommy puppy) would be fine playing with her”
M “Well that’s good. I think the dalmatian puppy would like that. Do you [Ariel] think that the dalmatian puppy is scary? Do you think Aurora and the dalmatian puppy could play together?”
Ariel (pause) “Yah I think they could play together”
M “I think they could too. It’s always nice to make friends even when friends are different”
And just like that Ariel went inside with her new-found friend as though the whole world hadn’t shifted. It’s easy to see our children as innocent little babies. They are our babies. However, I was reminded that these children, my children, are not just children. They are little people who will grow into full fledge adults who must face this grim ugly world. And unfortunately this ugly world includes catastrophic issues such as race hate.
Forget racism. That is far too easy of a word. Race hate. Skin hate. Different hate. People hate. Puppy hate. It’s all the same. It’s all hate. And that is not what I want to instill in my family. Because at this house we love God and others. Jesus called for us to love Him with all of our strength, mind and heart, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Pretty simple and yet extraordinarily difficult.
Today I was glad that I was presented with an opportunity to talk to my daughter and glimpse into her heart and see that while it isn’t perfectly angelic and pure, it is moldable and teachable and today I got the chance to show her God’s grace with a little help from a black and white furry friend.
“Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35