She Didn’t Believe Me

Jackson & Grandpa Bob at the Lindsay MuseumMy Dad volunteers at Jackson’s school on Thursday mornings. He gardens. When I picked Jackson up today, I asked him if he saw Grandpa Bob.

Jackson: Yep. I sure did!

Me: Was that fun?

Jackson: An elementary kid didn’t believe he was my Grandpa.

Me: Why not? (I figured I knew why not, but I didn’t want to jump to conclusions.)

Jackson: She thought my whole family was brown.

We talked for a bit about the fact that there’s another brown girl in his class who has a white Mommy. (For that matter, there’s another brown boy in his class who has a white Mommy.) I pointed out that if Jackson still lived with S, his grandfather would be white, because S’s father is white.

Jackson: I know.

Me: How did that make you feel?

Jackson: Sad. And angry. She just wouldn’t believe me!

Me: Well, you know Grandpa Bob is your Grandpa, and Grandpa Bob knows Grandpa Bob is your Grandpa, and that’s what matters.

I’m really surprised that the elementary girl argued with him. I could see being surprised – a few of Jackson’s friends have asked me why we’re white and Jackson’s brown. Jackson likes to tell them that “my birthmudder” or “my other mudder” is brown, and we say he was adopted. The kids accept that and move on.

Jackson couldn’t recall exactly what was said during the argument. I’d like to know. I’d like to know if it was long or short. It could have happened during a time when they weren’t supposed to be talking at all, so there would be the additional anger of being reprimanded by a teacher for talking if that happened.

We live in such a diverse place, and the school is really diverse, with a lot of seemingly mixed race families, that I’m puzzled by the girl’s insistence that my Dad couldn’t be Jackson’s Grandpa.

I have responses prepared for a lot of common situations, but not this one. It seems to me that the best thing to say is what Jackson said: “Yes he is.” and leave it at that.

Thoughts?

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3 thoughts on “She Didn’t Believe Me

  1. This reminds me of when I was 8 or so and had a VERY heated argument with another kid on the playground. I mentioned to this boy that Jesus was Jewish, and he was like, uh, NO, he was *Christian*, and it quickly turned to us screaming at each other, until the boy ran to get a playground monitor to resolve this (in my favor, of course). Incidentally, both of us kids were Jewish ourselves.

    Not that this story is about assumptions about race like yours, but it is about the rigidity of thinking that kids can have.

  2. I think keeping it short is the best way to go…I find that interesting as well because there are so many types of families (esp in CA)…and its certainly not limited to adopted families. My family for example is a mix of 4 different races…my mom is white, my step-father (who IS my “real” dad since he’s raised me my whole life) is black, my brothers are white/black, I’m white and my husband is mexican/greek, and so my son is white/greek and mexican. So Colin’s grandpa doesn’t “look” like him but he is ABSOLUTELY Colin’s grandpa as much as any other member of the family and I’d also have a strong reaction if anyone tried to say he wasn’t because of skin color or blood lines.

  3. I’ve wondered about this too, since we live in a very diverse area. In fact, in our neighborhood, and neighborhood school, MANY of the families are racially mixed. But last year, a black child refused to believe that Olivia was Miranda’s sister. Apparently, the child had seen us all walking in to school one day, and he asked her later who that baby was. She told him, and he told he “no, she can’t be your sister”. Miranda (who happens to be Hispanic and has an Asian brother, and white parents) was really upset about it, so the next day I went into the class to introduce Olivia, Miranda’s SISTER, to everyone.

    I thought it was really odd. As I said, there are so many mixed families, I really thought it would be a non-issue. So, no advice here 😦

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