Not long after Mikias came home, we were grocery shopping together. He didn't speak English yet, but did say "Mumma" loudly and often. When we were checking out he was saying "Mumma" at his just a click below screaming volume and pointing at the candy. The store manager looked at me sympathetically and said "Foster Child?".
What I thought: Why would you ask me that? Because he is black? I know we don't look alike but if this were a Korean or Chinese child ...you wouldn't have asked that would you? AND...what if he was my foster child? You feel you need to put him in a category? I would love this precious boy if he were my foster child or my birth child or my neighbor's kid. You need to think before you speak! I will shop at a different grocery store from now on. What I said: "No, he is mine." What I know: People say stupid things and I am too sensitive. (But I still don't shop there.)
Last year, when Mikias was in first grade I was helping in his classroom. I went to help the kids with a worksheet at Mikias's table. The work was to unscramble some words, which at the time, was something that Mikias could not do. A girl at his table said to me 'Mikias hasn't done anything and I am already almost done!'
What I thought: Listen you little stinker, Mikias is a smart boy and don't you dare make him feel like he isn't. Mikias has had to leave his country, learn a new language and adjust to a new family. He is working really hard to learn all of the stuff you already know. If you EVER make him feel bad about himself I will....will....secretly dislike you until you both graduate. What I said: "You are doing an awesome job!" What I know: She is a sweet first grader who just wanted me to acknowledge her work. I am completely irrational and maybe shouldn't volunteer at school.
A woman in Target pointed to my boys and asked me if they were mine. I smiled and said "They sure are". "Adopted?" she asked "Yes." I replied without the smile (to discourage her from asking more questions in front of the boys). Just then Jemberu said "Mom, look at this!" The woman said "Oh my gosh! It is so sweet that they call you Mom".
What I thought: "Yes you idiot! I just told you I am their mother, what did you think they would call me?" What I said: "Well, yeah I am their mom." What I know: What I thought was right, no apologies.
At a pool party, Mikias was happily swimming with his friends (all of whom were good swimmers). A mom said to me "Oh my gosh, look at Mikias, he can swim!"
What I thought: You thought black people couldn't swim! I bet you assume he is an excellent dancer too. What I said: "He sure can." What I know: People think and say all sorts of crazy things, including me. Some things you just have to let go.