Thursday, October 22, 2009

What I think, What I say, What I know

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 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.


  1. Ignorance seems to be the norm in this country. You just have to consider the source and remember not to take it too personally. However, there's nothing wrong with gently getting your message across...something along the lines of a less venomous "what you thought" response. You would be doing the collective idiotic a service by forcing them to carefully think about what they are saying before they actually engage their mouths.

    You are a good person Alison. People can learn from you. xoxoxo Mrs.JNFHS.

  2. People can be so thoughtless and critical! I get similar questions about my grandson, Max and my age..."is he your son"? "How old is your daughter(his mother)"? Yes she is 24, yes she had him when she was 16, yes she was pregnant at 15........I want to say so much while I see them thinking it all out, but I usually don't say much. I just let them know how much I love him!
    No, it wasn't planned but we do what we have to do. He is a blessing and a daughter is a better mom than I ever could have been. She took a difficult situation and turned it into something wonderful.
    She is my hero, I am amazed at what she has done with her life...finished highschool, almost finished college, and has been married for a little over a year. She has accomplished this without complaint, or regret. She loves her life. I love them both!! T.Ross Mattson

  3. I like to respond to stupid comments with "a punch in the face!" :)

  4. See, to that little kindy kid, I would NOT have given positive feedback (and I'm a teacher!) If she were in my class I would have said "well that isn't a nice thing to say. Do you think it makes him feel nice that you say that? He's a very smart boy because he has had to learn a new language. Do you speak another language?" I hate smart ass little crap heads. Even if they are only 5 or 6. Geez, note to self: never adopt a kid who doesn't look like me....because I too am WAY over sensitive!

  5. I love this and love that I have found your blog! just got matched with a baby boy from Ethiopia... we already get the questions, such a release to see other people feel the same. can only imagine how protective and sensitive I'll be when my boy is with me!