The other day I was texting with a girlfriend — a fellow adoptive mama who also happens to be an amazing homeschooling mama. She asked me if we had read The Little House on the Prairie books at our home yet. I let her know that while we had the whole series (books leftover from my childhood), my 6-year-old had only read the first one. She told me she had just read the third one out loud with her girls (like a responsible/non-lazy parent), and was appalled by the attitudes and language expressed towards and about Native peoples.
I ran downstairs to skim through some of the books. Sure enough, we’ve got the lovely, mostly-exemplary character of Ma saying, “The only good Indian is a dead Indian,” calling Natives “Savages” over and over, scolding her kids when they get too tan because now they look like Indians (which is apparently insulting), etc., etc., etc. Not to mention the time when they attend a Minstrel Show, and Laura calls black people “darkies.”
Dang. (Also, why did I not remember any of this from when I read these books as a child?!?!)
So there I stood in our home library, clutching these much beloved books of my youth in horror, wondering how to make the best parenting decision. Do I…
1-Let my daughter continue to work her way through the series without talking about it. After all, she didn’t bring it up…
2-Talk to her about the attitudes expressed in the books.
3-Read the books aloud to her, skipping and editing when necessary.
4-Host a book burning.
Thankfully, she’s moved onto the Chronicles of Narnia for the time being, giving me time to mull over my plan for the Little House books, and any other classic children’s lit (The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is another one that comes to mind…) that may be influenced by incorrect — and at times, sickening — ideas about race within historical contexts.Read More»
I have a story that I’m going to share here — and it’s one I’m really ashamed of. During her preschool years, used to take my daughter to a preschool story time at her school. It’s one attended by future students of the elementary school and I absolutely loved meeting the other families and getting to know the librarian and the facilities a bit.
Except there was this one time when “that kid” was there. You know the one. The one who is disruptive and loud and a little handsy. “That kid” was there with an aid — and obviously had developmental differences. I remember thinking to myself, “I hope that kid doesn’t end up in the same classroom as my daughter.”
Two years later, my daughter is in kindergarten, and I visit her school once a week to have lunch and play with her at recess. There is a little guy in her classroom — deemed the class troublemaker but seriously my favorite kid in her class — who always runs and gives me a big hug and tells me how much he loves my bear hug (I give them to him because I know he has SPD and craves the input). “That kid” from story time often sits next to us at lunch and asks me one question after another. A few of “those kids” — the ones I see getting pulled out of the classrooms to work with the Special Needs Educator — are the ones we always reach out to on the playground and invite to jump rope with us. They are the ones who wrestle with my 2-year-old when he comes along for recess, because they speak the same language, if you will, and totally get that head butting one another does not mean they are bullies, but just kindred spirits who are meeting one another’s needs.Read More»
It’s no secret that diversity in children’s literature is something that I’m passionate about. I recently had the awesome privilege of participating in a community wide multicultural book drive, and as we researched the statistics and data about diversity in kid lit, I learned even more about the NECESSITY of it.
I’ve been long trying to build up a diverse home library because I want my son to be able to see himself in picture books. But as I worked with others to articulate to our community why we were holding a multicultural book drive in a largely white area, I discovered even more deeply the importance of diverse books not just to black and brown children — but to white kids as well. If your child lives in a largely white area and isn’t having regular contact with a person of color, he is more susceptible to negative stereotypes and attitudes about black and brown people.
All that said, I wanted to share with you today some of our favorite children’s books that feature African American protagonists. (Since I have a son, this particular list includes many books about AA boys, but you can find some excellent books with AA girls in them here and here. ) This post contains affiliate links.Read More»
This past January, during a family vacation to Salt Lake, we attended a worship service at the church I grew up in. As I was busy catching up with old friends, my ever social 2-year-old was making new ones in the form of third grade girls. They were running around the church narthex together, and I could tell the girls were getting upset with him, though he wasn’t doing anything to harm them. I asked what was going on, and they complained, “We’re trying to play tag but he isn’t following the rules!”
I looked at them for a moment, and then a light bulb went off in my head.
“How old do you think he is?” I asked them.
“Five?” they chimed in unison.
When I told them he was only two, and that he probably didn’t really get what they were trying to tell him, they were visibly surprised.
It’s rare for me to post a photo of my son on Instagram or Facebook without at least a few comments of, “He’s so mature looking!” or “He’s not a baby anymore!” or “He looks so much older than two!”
The thing is….he is tall. He has grown exponentially since he came to us at nine months old — nary on a growth chart and with repeated worries from the doctor that he would always be small after suffering from kwashiorkor. His feet are now longer than his 6-year-old sister’s, and he can do pull ups on our kitchen island. He is also very verbal and social. He’ll approach a grown woman at church, look her in the eyes and say, “Nice haircut!” All this to say – I get it. I understand why people think he is older than 2.
But these comments don’t always sit well with me. I know people mean well and are speaking honestly, but something about it always makes me nervous. My biological daughter is on the opposite end of the spectrum, so comments from strangers or friends usually describe her as, “petite”, “tiny” or even “ethereal”. Yet comments about her being small don’t leave me feeling uneasy. Why? Is it because I’m not used to these comments? Is it because I still see him as my baby? Is it because of Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin? (Spoiler Alert: It’s kind of all of the above.)Read More»
It was a moment I’ll never forget — and one I can never really do justice to describing. There was so much love, joy, gratitude, awe and overwhelming relief when I held his tiny, wiggly frame in my arms. He immediately began touching my face and smiling. After months of being up all night worrying and praying for him, I cuddled him to my chest and we both slept deeply and contentedly for four hours.
Over the past two years, I’ve learned that my son — now a wiggly toddler — is perhaps the most resilient person I’ve ever known in real life. He is strong in every way, completely hilarious — and joyful. He came that way. Since the moment I held him in my arms for the first time — he was a smiley, happy, joy-filled little soul.
The past two years have humbled me as a parent. Perhaps the title of this post is a bit misleading, because in many ways, I’ve learned that I really know nothing at all. But here I go, trying to sum up my nothing….Read More»
So…I’ll be honest. I was more than slightly bored during tonight’s Oscars. I love me some Neil Patrick Harris because he is immensely talented and a true class act, but…sorry, Neil.
On the bright side, I think it was an UH-mazing year for Oscar fashion, don’t you? Here were some of my faves, though it was hard to pick:
Rosamund Pike was totally smoking in this gorgeous red lace gown. Even if I am scared of her in real life after seeing Gone GirlRead More»
We’re getting ready to move Baby Boy into a bed. (He’s actually napping in there as I write this…phew!) A year ago, I started collecting some things and painting furniture in anticipation of their shared room. I take FOREVER to put together a room. I never know exactly what I want until I see it — which means I am never shopping for something specific — and I hate buying meaningless things just to fill spaces. So it usually takes me awhile to put together an entire room!
I knew I wanted to keep with the French Country-ish feel of our house with a bit of a shabby chic spin on it. But we also didn’t have much of a budget, so I had to re-imagine some furniture already in our home to achieve the look.
This isn’t a home decorating blog by any means, but I thought I’d share a little bit of their combined room in case it gives you any shared bedroom ideas.Read More»
Last night, my husband and I went to our local theater to see Selma.
Selma was not originally scheduled to play at ALL in my town, but thanks to a barrage of e-mails and phone calls to Regal corporate offices, it was finally brought to our town a little over a week ago. (Sadly, it has not drawn in audiences the way the manager has hoped, and if things don’t pick up in the next two days, it will be on its way out after a much-too-short two week stint.)
The Academy Awards are my Superbowl, and I used to make a habit of seeing every single nominated film. Since becoming a mom, this has proven to be impossible, but I managed to watch Boyhood and Selma this weekend.Read More»