“Mom, I need to talk to you about something,” my 4-year old said. Uh oh. This is NEVER good. Never ever. “Sure, what’s up?” I asked. “I don’t think some of my friends like you,” he explained, “and I think they won’t be my friend because they don’t like you. Because you are different.” Hmm – OK this one has me stumped. Nothing is entering my mind. All the general reasons for discrimination are running through my mind: I’m white, I’m straight, I’m married, I dress decently but not overly high-end…. Oh wait – I am probably 15-20 pounds over my ideal weight. I gear up mentally to deal with this, as I ask, “How am I different?” He takes a deep breath, looks me right in the eye, and says, “You have curly hair, and I don’t think my friends will like you because your hair is different.”
REALLY? I immediately think of two other mothers who have hair that is curlier hair than mine.
It was so hard not to laugh. I mentioned the two other moms that have curly hair. He looks at me like I am the dumbest person in the world, and he really doesn’t have time to explain this – he is playing with his new Star Wars light saber, after all. “MOM,” he says, full of exasperation, “their hair is BROWN.” I’m a blonde.
Oh – well THAT clears up everything!!!
We spent some time talking about how people have different hair: different colors, different lengths, etc. It was actually a great way to talk about differences and why we shouldn’t judge people on physical traits. He still isn’t sure that his friends will like him because of his mother’s hair, but he’s OK with that. Let’s hope I can continue that throughout his life, with other more critical issues.
And life goes on…