For the past 2 weekends, my family and I have been visiting these indoor playgrounds so that our 5 year old can play in a more controlled atmosphere until the weather is a bit more steady…….and the really fun places start opening their doors for the season :D. All you hear are children screeching and screaming at the top of their lungs. All you smell is burnt pizza, processed food and feet.
As my husband and I watched on as our son played, I noticed such a divide. The Hispanic parents and children stuck to their own. The Caucasian children spread themselves out a little more, were a little hyper but they also stuck to themselves and the African American children played with their own and were a little more aggressive…..that is a whole different topic to be addressed, and aggression within the black community including our children, really does bother me.
We are instilling confidence into our child and the ability to look at people as himself, no matter the race or culture. What I disdain severely in adults and what we are fighting to raise our son against, is this passive segregated state of mind…..where every church is one color and race, play grounds where children only play with their own races, families who will fight and disown one another due to children, cousins, siblings falling in love with people outside of their circle, color and language. I hate this with a strong passion. We know that it will never change in the world, so we are working hard to make sure it is different in our son’s perspective in life.
My husband, being Cuban has this belief at times, that Hispanics stick together. I am not so optimistic about that, because I do not believe that to be true. I do not believe this to be true in any race. People stick together to familiarity. This can be a black person who has strong history with their Hispanic friend, like that of my husband and a buddy of his who still calls him up about fishing and they have not worked together in a long time….however the Hispanic neighbors that we live next to, he talks very little to. So my dear, you have contradicted yourself…..but I still love you! 😀
When we go to a place where there are Hispanic and African American children, I want to have some level of comfort knowing that my son will ease his way right in there. I mean, he is Latino, Black and Native. That should make a difference, right? This is almost never the case. My boy is as American as sweet apple pie and hot dogs…..from his mannerisms, to his attire, to his discipline, to his personality….just seasoned with other cultural additives 😀 . He is all around American and has a very tolerant and accepting personality, which a lot of kids are not being raised with these days.
As he started playing, my husband and I are coaching him to be outgoing and introduce himself (He is a little shy and getting back out there with other kids after so long, is a little testy at times..some days much more than others), meet other children and ask if kids would like to play. He took our approach and as he went up to this cute little Hispanic boy with the most squeezable cheeks and he began conversing with this child, the little boy gave my son the most discourteous look and turned away from him to go to his own people. I looked at the situation, puzzled, and I thought to myself..”Good grief kid! Are your parents not teaching you manners?” Of course he was not my child and he was probably no more than 6 or 7. Besides that, we tell our son, when kids do not want to play with him, do not take it personal, shake it off and play with other kids. If no one wants to play, have fun doing your own thing. 🙂
I also understand with immigration being a factor that is displeasing to many Americans, when you have groups of people, whether Somalian, Guatemalan, African, Mexican, etc. coming into the US legally or illegally, it strikes a cord in many that oppose it, that causes these groups to want to stay amongst themselves, as security, safety and tolerance. So we have a certain level of understanding.
Don’t get me wrong, these children played with whomever, but their choice in playmates to stick closely to , were like their parents choice in adult friendships…naturally. Social environment plays a significant part in these choices as well. So our son played with a little of everyone who was willing to play, but only for moments at a time, and eventually they gravitated to their own. Some of you may not see this as a problem, but it is. It is not the fault of our children. It is us. Adults are the reason behind the racially divided and diversity issues of our children.
We share our pride with our children, we even share our racism with our kids. What we embed, is what they dispatch on the playground. The influences that they receive from the adults in their lives, not just from parents but those within our groups, this is what they portray in the tolerance or intolerance of other children.
About an hour later, a couple arrived. An Asian man, a Caucasian woman tightly holding an Asian child. As the parents sat on the other side of the window, this little boy began to play on his own. Immediately, my son went up to him, and they played non-stop like 2 peas in a pod. The little boy and our son were running around together, screaming together, had energy out of the roof and just completely enjoyed the company of one another. As our son took breaks to drink his water, the little boy stood and watched….a little hesitant to come to our table and sit with our child, even after my son invited him. This little boy was waiting to see my husband and I smile to know that it was okay to sit with us.
When our son ended his break, the two of them went back to playtime. You would think they knew each other their whole short lives. The boys father walks in and talks to my husband and I, and he said to us, with a heavy accent, that he and his wife recently brought their son from China to America. Their little boy did not know any English.
We watch Ni Hao, Kai-Lan at home. I try to dodge the cartoon because it is so brightly colored that it gives me headaches. I can not watch that cartoon unless I am drinking very strong coffee. Any excuse…right? 😀 I always thought; “Why would my son need to know Chinese?” Hoping that he will have a great encounter one day. There we were, faced with a real life answer. I said to my son; “Tell him NI HAO!” So you hear these 2 cute little kids saying; “Ni Hao! Ni Hao!” My husband and I just gushed over that. It was so cute.
We had the Blessed privilege of speaking with both parents for a while and found out how similar our children were. Because the little boy did not speak English, he sometimes has a bit of trouble expressing his feelings. Our son is the same way for different reasons. They are both very friendly kids who just want a buddy to play with, no matter how you look or sound….”Just play with me!” They both like being silly and dancing, etc. Their personalities meshed very well together.
They played for about 2 1/2 hours straight and were the last 2 children left, playing together in the whole play area. The parents were so happy to see that another child played with their son right away, in spite of differences.
I most certainly thank God for allowing us to think the way that we do in order for our son to grow up with an open heart for others. Our little guy is a Blessing full of work, as all kids are, but he has a great big heart made of gold. He really cares for people which is so exciting to see in him at such an early age.
Of course our play time ended with an exchange of emails between 2 excited mom’s.
Through all of these sparks of goodness, It saddens me to see such a racial divide amongst people who live in America. Of all of the places in the world, we are one of the countries with the strongest issues of hate amongst our own people. We are spreading poison to our children. Really what we are doing is teaching them to live in fear of others and making it hard for them to possibly become an outstanding success in this world. Who knows what they can become…international executives, highly paid traveling bloggers, Missionaries, Ministers, International evangelists.
We are raising up our children with a George Wallace mentality, before he denounced his segregationist policies. We are teaching them that their dreams must stay local and with “their own kind,” rather than letting them know that God is the God of ALL races, cultures, and languages and that they can find their success in Asia, in the US, in Europe, in Africa. There are no limits through Christ.
As I continue to hate cookie cutter images, seeing churches fill with just one race, look and sound at a time, Dad’s and Mom’s being fearful of a little black, a little white, a little brown and red mixed with their children, I am constantly reminded that this is our society, but it does not have to be my home. I cannot change the whole world, but my family will continue to thrive beyond our repressed and stuck society…..in politics, in faith & church, even on the playground.