People Are Curious About My Interracial Family - And That's OK
I pulled my son's stroller along behind me as I pushed my 85 year-old father's wheelchair down the hall and into the doctor's office. This was the second time I had brought my father to his doctor with my son in tow. Dr. M saw us across the bustling waiting room and smiled broadly. "How's the baby?"
"He's BLACK!" my father blurted.
Everyone looked up at me. Silence. Cut, almost immediately, by my laughter.
"The doctor's got eyes, Dad."
People chuckled and went back to their magazines and conversations.
No one but my father has been openly obnoxious about the fact that my youngest son is black and the rest of my family is white. But people are curious. And I don't blame them. When they see just me with him, they wonder if my husband is black. When they see him with me and my other two kids, they wonder if we're babysitting. And when they see us all together, they wonder if I had an affair with Blair Underwood and have an exceptionally understanding husband.
OK, maybe it's only me that's thinking that last one.
I took my kids to the price club and a little girl about ten years old immediately spotted us. Her large dark eyes followed our caravan as we perused the gigantic containers of laundry detergent and fabric softener. She'd look at me, my older kids, the baby, then back to me. She started drifting away from her mom and following us, absentmindedly dancing as she stalked us. Her black braids, secured with colorful plastic barrettes, bounced as she danced.
"Hi," I said to her as she finally got too close to ignore.
"Hi. Are you babysitting?" she asked.
"Nope, these are all my kids," I answered.
She smiled. "Do your older kids like playing with the baby?"
"Yes, they really do," I said.
Just then her mother caught up to us.
"I'm so sorry!" Then she turned to her daughter. "Shaniqua, you shouldn't be bothering people!"
Shaniqua looked up at me apologetically.
"No bother at all. Your daughter is very sweet. She was just asking about my youngest."
"He's beautiful," the woman said. "Best of luck to you."
"Thank you. You too."
They turned to walk away. Then Shaniqua turned back around and said, "He's probably going to be a professional football player when he grows up."
She finally figured out a way that this picture made sense to her. "The Blind Side."
I said, "Well, he can be whatever he wants to be."
When it comes to my interracial family I've discovered three things:
1) People desperately want to say the right thing.
2) The sight of someone loving and caring for someone else with whom they don't necessarily share genes with makes people feel better about the world they live in.
3) When met with patience and an open heart, people who are clumsy in their curiosity are generally kind. In other words, human.
Photos are courtesy of laraelizabethphotography.com