Children don’t need to be politically correct.

So I’m home from visiting ‘my wee small boy,’ but feeling a little bit broken. So instead of a moany post I thought I’d repost an old one which hopefully you’ll enjoy.

Living in Australia in my early twenties, was my first experience of living and working,
with a variety of different nationalities.small_722171336
I loved the diversity and made some wonderful friends during my time there. One of my very closest friends, was a wonderful character with a wicked sense of humour, not unlike my own, who so happened to be black. We shared a great year together and I was so lonely leaving her when I returned home.

A number of years later after we had both got married and had children, she contacted me saying she, her husband and young son were coming to visit. I was so excited to see my buddy again. My enthusiasm was obviously catching as my daughter and the little girl I minded were also really looking forward to the visitors arriving.

The evening came and we were getting ready to go to the airport when it occurred to me that my daughter and the little girl I minded had never met,or possibly ever even seen anyone who was black.
They were five years old.

I began to think about that and then I really began to over think it. What if they said something in public about the colour of her skin? What if they insulted my friend? I began to sweat just a little, so thought it would be a good idea to perhaps prepare them in some way.
“Now, I said, when P arrives you will notice she is black”.
They looked at me blankly.
“You see your skin,” I said, “well we would say you are both white, but P is much darker than you, even darker than you would get if you were out in the sun all summer”.
“Oh so she is brown?”, my daughter said.small_4526560765
” Yes like a really dark brown?” said the other little one as they both nodded their heads enthusiastically in agreement.
“No, I said, “she’s not brown, she’s black. That is the colour you call her.
“Oh so she is not brown?” they said.
At this point I was so sorry I had even started this ridiculous conversation.
“Look, I said, it does not matter what colour she is, she’s just not white okay?” Then in a stroke of genius I said,
“I just wanted to tell you both so that when she comes off the plane you’ll recognise her easily.”
Genius I thought to myself, end of questions and no embarrassment at the airport.

So off we went to the airport and the girls were so excited waiting to meet our visitor. I was too. Thankfully they were now talking about my friend with no mention of her colour. Soon passengers began to filter out and the girls in their excitement began to push forward anxious to greet our guest.
I could see some people smiling in their direction.

Then I heard them shout, “Here she is,” and they ran forward. To my horror a lady who I did not know was coming towards them,
who so happened to be black! I roared to them, and thankfully they ran back to me without welcoming this stranger.
“That is not P”, I said, before immediately spotting my friend appearing through the doors.
“There she is”, I said. They looked at my friend then back to me. “She is not black, they both said, rather too loudly, before one of them said, “that lady is black”, and pointed to the stranger.
I was mortified wishing the ground would swallow me up.
I had actually created this issue. I was the one who had caused this higly embarrassing situation, the very situation I had done my best to avoid.small_2107194818
Thankfully my friend was very quick on the uptake and was nothing but amused by it all.

During her two week stay we joked regularly, wondering where the other black woman in Cork had gone. Looking back its amazing to believe that there was a time when Cork was all white. My friend came to visit a few more times as they were both working in England for a time, before she and her family returned to Australia.
However on subsequent visits I left it for my subsequent children to notice her skin colour, or comment about it.
And do you know what? They never did. For that airport ‘incident’ taught me a valuable lesson, that political correctness is an adult led thing, children take as they find.

photo credit: shapeshift via photopin cc
photo credit: Frerieke via photopin cc
photo credit: HAMED MASOUMI via photopin cc

Advertisements

11 thoughts on “Children don’t need to be politically correct.

  1. so very true, tric. when i first worked in an all-black classroom of second graders, as a student teacher, they always made me black when including me in the pictures they drew –

    1. My visit was perfect in every way, but as you can imagine leaving was not easy and I’m feeling more than a little empty. Another few days and I’ll be right as rain, thank you so much. We are half way there now thank goodness.

    1. Thank you. I’m much improved, just wallowed a bit last night. My three at home here are very insulted as they think they should more than make up for their brothers absence!
      Hard to believe, as I see my children educated in a busy comprehensive school of different nationalities, that this was not the way it always was. In fact when I told my youngest two about this post they were convinced I was exaggerating.
      Thanks again.

  2. Oh dear. I read somewhere that kids never think about race and skin color much one way or the other until we adults start helpfully pointing out what a huge difference it makes. It’s a shame. I wish we learned to see things more as the kids do rather than the other way round.

Comments are always welcome.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s