What a lucky little girl. Now we have been reveling in the fun of your earliest steps. When J & P were your size, it was the lure of “Mommy” and my outstretched arms that evoked the most steps from each new walker. Now, with Daddy staying home with you most days and a “little big brother” (xiao ge – 10yo) and a “big big brother” (da ge – 12yo), we set you in the middle of us all, and you triumphantly step and fall into the loving embrace of each of your most trusted “adults” in turn. What a delight to watch your brothers’ pride in your awesome feats.
As usual, I arrived home yesterday after my day at Salmon Bay, gathered my armload of belongings from the front car seat, and made my way to the back door. As I put my key into the lock on the door, I knew what I was setting into motion. Each day, you’ve come to know that in the afternoon, the sound of the bolt moving aside means, “Mama’s home!” Whatever you’re doing stops. My first glimpse of you at that moment always melts me with the purest joy. From the middle of the kitchen floor, you move toward me with frantic, breakneck speed using the special crawl you’ve perfected. Left leg tucked under, hands spread wide – here she comes! Yesterday was the same. You pulled yourself over the pile of sandwich bags, containers and kitchen tools you’d spread all around. But this time, you stopped. Still outside the reach of my outstretched arms, you sat back, smoothly pulled yourself up onto your feet and rocked gingerly until you settled into balance. A small smile lifted the corners of your mouth as you raised your shoulders and moved so perfectly each of your legs in turn. You walked to me!
My 10-year old son, P, reported with amusement on a conversation he and his friends had in the carpool on the way to soccer practice. My husband was driving my son and two boys, one an immigrant from Somolia and one Oromo. We’ve known these boys only for a few months now. B, the Oromo boy, ventured to ask my son, “Is he your real dad?” My son, who probably hasn’t thought much about his racial identity yet, says that he replied, “Yes! Who else would be?” B quickly said to the other passenger, “See, Z? I told you that’s his dad.” My son said he asked, “Did you think someone else was?” B responded tentatively something about P not looking much alike his dad. P says he laughed and went through the list of physical differences we have talked about at home – noses, hairy-ness, and other. P says that he ended with, “And my hair’s black and his [gesturing] is” and B filled in, “Gray!” which caught my husband’s ear. At 43 and only the start of a bit of silver around his ears, this is a subject of some teasing in our family.
Over Thanksgiving weekend, my family traveled to a small town on the east side of Washington State to visit friends. While there, we attended the town’s day-after-Thanksgiving pre-Christmas community chili gathering. Many of the town’s residents were in attendance at this festive annual event. It was the first gathering of this size that I’ve attended in awhile at which no other people of color were present. It was the first time my children had been at such a gathering.
The family-style tables were crowded by the time we were looking for seats, so we set the kids up at one table and we adults found space at another. Later I learned that my twelve-year old chatted with a friendly man next to him. He reported that, “Mom, he asked, ‘Where are you from?’ and when I told him Seattle, he said, ‘No, where are you originally from?'” and it was the first time it occurred to my son that based on his appearance someone assumed he couldn’t be from Seattle. It’s amazing to me that it’s taken twelve years for this to happen. I think the world must be changing – or at least some of it!