It takes all sorts18 February , 2014
Conversations with Nicola can sometimes leave me a bit stumped. To a certain extent I blame school for this. I don’t always get the frame of reference of what she’s talking about…but I try. I really try. I have to figure out where they were trying to go with something and then work my words of wisdom in to fit the theme, and at times turn it on its head if needed.
Example: Any of you who don’t have the “standard” family set-up of mom, dad, maybe a sibling or two will probably enjoy the family themed lessons just as much as I do (as in NOT AT ALL). This year for instance they had to make a family tree, but not of what their family actually looks like – just a standard sort of template tree. I calmed myself down about this figuring it was actually more about the cutting out of circles than about the tree, and for some reason all 20 children in the class had to have a mother with red hair, a dad with dark brown hair and two siblings – one of which had to be a baby, and one a brother, plus a grandfather but no grandmother. At some point I do hope we’ll get to discuss a tree that actually sort of resembles the one we are.
This obviously raises all sorts of questions and I try to answer them in a truthful and sort of PC way whenever I can. When Nicola wants to know why she doesn’t have a dad or siblings like her picture has, I say families are made up of all sorts of people. Almost no one’s real family looks like that. You get families where there is only a mom and a daughter, like us. You get families that only have a dad, some where there are two moms or two dads, some where the parents and the children don’t even look like each other. The more important thing is that they all love each other and consider themselves family, than whether they look like a cut out template family tree.
Then she says something like, “Mmm…yes” and just as you think she understands and agrees with you she adds, “but MY pink dragon has a baby brother” or something similar. I just breathe in, breathe out and let it go. No doubt we will discuss this again next year when family tree week rolls by, and maybe she’s taking in more than she is willing to admit to – she often quotes me on things I have said years ago, and never again, with frightening accuracy. So just because she starts talking about pink dragons, doesn’t mean that she didn’t hear or believe me.
Other than the skill of cutting out circles, I think this kind of thing is probably good for a different kind of life lesson too. It’s about cookie cutters, and not necessarily being one. The powers that be have expectations that you are not always going to meet, and that’s okay – you just be you, and let them deal with their own expectations. I’ll be the one here in the background instigating that it’s okay to cut out the circles if someone says cut and paste THIS family tree, but to make a big stink about it if they expect the same saying cut and paste YOUR family tree, and it doesn’t look like your family.
Yesterday, she let loose one of these conversations on me again. This time it was about skin colour. She says, “Mamma, het jy geweet mens kry bruin mense, EN skin colour mense?” (Mom, did you know you get brown people, and skin coloured people?). Me, “Ja, ek het geweet – maar Nicola bruin is ook ‘n velkleur. Mens kry mense in pink, beige, geel, ligbruin, donkerbruin, swart – amper al die kleure – en hulle is almal “skin colour” want dit is die kleur wat hulle vel is.” (Yes, I did know that – but Nicola, brown is also a skin colour. You get people in all kinds of colours, pink, beige, yellow, light brown, dark brown, and black – almost all of the colours you can think of – and they are all “skin coloured” because that is the colour that their skin is. She looks like she’s thinking this over and then says, “yes, AND you get them in skin colour…but not green or blue, right mom?”
Hahaha, no – I haven’t seen people in green or blue yet either. I guess we’ll park this for the next round then. Thank you to whoever at her school taught my daughter that the light peachy colour crayon is skin colour. And when I say thank you, you know I mean something altogether different, right?
Do you have these kinds of conversations with your children? I can’t be the only one fielding these kind of questions…