When we were in our pre-adoption stage (pre-Nat), we had to take an extraordinarily silly--maybe even harmful--course via telephone conference that was supposed to teach white people about parenting children of color (it was mostly white parents/Black children, but there were a few other race mixes too).
but its silliness and possible harmfulness aside, I remember one of the women in the course telling us about something that was distressing her, that had prompted her to take the course voluntarily, as she was already raising two Black children. What she said had upset her was that her 4-year old daughter had told her she wished she had pale skin and straight hair--like her mommy.
I remember telling the woman that I thought it was pretty normal for a child of that age to identify with her primary caregiver (this woman was a single mom too--so very, very primary) and that what she had was a teachable moment to start expressing ideas about race and family and identification overtly to her children and create for them a comfort level in discussing those things. Freaking out might be her first impulse, but she ought to take a deep breath and start talking nonjudgmentally to the kids about their feelings about looking different from their mother.
The I made a mental note not to freak out, myself when the same thing inevitably happened to me.
Now, mind you, I am not suggesting that something like that never will happen to me, and I promise not to freak out (too much) when/if it does.
But I was one deeply pleased mama last week when Nat drew a spontaneous portrait of her family, featuring Mama Shannon with curly hair and something that looks to me like crosses, sticking out all over my head. When asked to describe this picture of me, Nat explained that the crosses were my braids.
Nat has never seen me wearing any braids at all in my hair, mind you. I have at various times in my life braided my hair (in one, single, pathetically thin braid) but not lately. But when I saw that Nat had fantasized me to look like her, rather than wishing she looked like me, I must admit it gave my heart a little thrill.
Here's the picture, for those of you who missed it on FaceBook: