Thursday, December 30, 2010

opposite man

Santa brought the kids a Wii this year. After a couple of days of demonstrating my incompetence at modern electronics, I finally got the darn thing working. (bonus points - I did not have to buy a new TV for it. We used the TV my brother gave us for a wedding gift 20 years ago- YES!!)

Anyway, one of the first things you have to do is design your Avatar (I'm sure most of you already knew that). Marin designed a beautiful brown skinned avatar for herslef. Then Emmy designed a beautiful brown skinned avatar with big blue eye shadow and big red lips. It was hilarious. Then I designed my avatar to look like me. The kids said "No, make him taller.", then "No, make him skinnier." Finally, I was about to hit the save button, and both kids looked at me, drop dead serious, and said, at the same time "Daddy, aren't you going to make him brown skin like us?"

So here I am - opposite man. A short, fat, bald, white guy with a tall, thin, brown, hairy avatar.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Blue Christmas

Blue was my family's Christmas colour when I was young. Grandmother's tree was trimmed totally in blue lights. My grandparents' parlor in which we trimmed the tree and exchanged gifts had blue carpet and blue wall paper. Elvis' Blue Christmas was the family Christmas carol. Most of the gift wrap was blue. And on and on.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago we are at the florist choosing a wreath for my mothers' grave. (reminder that we had a stone carved for our childrens' birth parents and placed it next to my mothers' stone) We asked the kids if they wanted to choose the wreath because it was for their parents, too. Out of hundreds of wreaths, what do they choose? A beautiful wreath made of blue spruce, decorated with blue ornaments, and a large blue and silver bow. It made a lump in my throat.

Unfortunately, the wreath also set off a two week period of mourning, especially for Emmy. She cried herself to sleep every night and woke up crying each morning. She wanted to know why we had not taken her African parents to America so we could all live together (they are deceased). And why we did not pay for doctors to save her parents. And its' not fair that other kids get to see their Moms and Dads at Christmas by Emmy does not. Emmy asks the deepest most heart breaking questions about sickness, death, afterlife, heaven, and so on. It was a truly blue Christmas.


The kids are really self conscious lately about being brown. Marin always wears long warm ups (instead of gym shorts) to basketball and to indoor soccer. She says it is because she wants to cover her brown skin. I told her the kids can still see her face. Instead of helping her understand how irrational she was, it just bummed her out. Then I felt even worse.

Last night Emmy and I were snuggling before she went to bed. She pulled my head under the covers with her and whispered " I don't like my brown skin. When I go back to school I am going to cover my whole face with a white permanent marker. "

We are constantly telling our kids how beautiful their skin is (it really is), and how much we love it (we really do), and we kiss them all the time and we tell them white people spend all their money going to tanning booths so they can have beautiful brown skin. It isn't working. Suggestions welcomed.


I took the kids to one of those arcades that spits out tickets and then you use the tickets to claim a crummy prize. I know, total ripoff, but the kids had a ball. What do they choose for prizes? Whoopie cushions.

I gotta hand it to my kids. Instead of just farting and giggling like juveniles, my kids created little skits incorporating the whoopie cushions. For example

1. Excuse me. I'd like to speak to the members of the town council. You're all a bunch of ............................

2. Good afternoon. This is Barak Obama and I want to talk to you about ..........................

3. Good morning. This is Dr. Rhoads (school principal) and I want to tell you.......................... Wait, was that you Miss Maggie (school secretery)?

I had to pull the car off the road I was laughing so hysterically. My stomach was cramping and I was crying.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Google it

So here we are, watching the Christmas special "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" on TV. The kids are watching intently, trying to figure out exactly how all this happened. Finally Marin says "Daddy, Google where did Santa come from".

American History Museum

We all went to DC for Thanksgiving. Like any family with kids knows, you have to get a hotel with a pool in it. So there are the kids in the pool, making friends with another little girl about Marin's age. You just never know where these new friendships are going to go.

Marin: Where are you from?
Friend: Georgia. Where are you from?
Marin: Ethiopia.
Friend: What? Is that in Africa?
Marin: (encouraged) Yes!
Friend: Wow, you are so lucky you got out of there. If you lived there a few years ago you would have been a slave!
Marin: What?
Friend: You know, a slave. Where white people beat you and make you work and buy you and sell you and you can't go to school or have friends or anything
Friends Mom (as alarmed as I am and trying to recover) No sweetheart, that was a long time ago and it doesn't happen anymore. Your new friend has nothing to worry about.

We spend the next three days reassuring Marin that she will not become a slave.