Dear God, pleeeeeease don’t let my kiddo be racist

Okay, so the other day I experienced something awesome. Yeah yeah yeah, I know you’re used to me spouting off alllllll the bad shit that happens in our house on a daily basis, but last week Zoey and I had a GMO (girls morning out) and holy crap did some amazing stuff happen.

I mean most Sunday mornings I’m like honey can you watch the kids and then I pretend to poop for like two hours while really I sit there reading People Magazine and getting ring around the tushy, but this Sunday Holden had a birthday party and I could either hang out in a crowded room with a bunch of tired dads while I beg my kiddo not to touch me with his nasty frosting fingers (can we pleeeeease make red frosting illegal???), or I could take Zoey for the morning. And even though I bitch and moan about both my kiddos, I picked Zoey because she never has pee-pee accidents anymore and she likes the quiet. Like seriously, yesterday in the car she asked me to turn off the music and I was like uhhh, okay, sure.

ME: What do you want to talk about?

ZOEY: Nothing. I like the quiet.

Be still my heart. I mean usually silence means someone’s in the other room spreading hummus all over my sofa or drawing a mural on my walls with a Sharpie, but silence in the car when the kids are locked in their car seats is like total bliss. Wait, what’s that I hear? It’s my own thoughts! And they’re not filled with curse words!!

Anyways, I think I just digressed like a whole F’ing novel. Back to Zoey and my incredible morning. So Zoey’s grandma did the most annoying thing ever for the holidays. She gave Zoey exactly what I asked her to give her. An American Girl Doll. Yes, if you read my blog, you might know how much I HATE American Girl Dolls, but here’s the thing. Zoey has one and every time her little friends come over to play, she’s like all freaking out and shit and hiding it because she only has one and she doesn’t want to share it. So when my mom asked me what Zoey wants for the holidays, I’m like I don’t give a rat’s ass what she wants. I want you to get her another one of those super expensivo dolls you got her so she’ll stop freaking out when her friends come over.

But here’s where my mom F’ed up. Instead of taking Zoey to the American Girl Doll store herself, she sent a check, so it was up to me to take her there. Kill. Me. Now.

Anyways, as we were getting in the car to schlep downtown, Zoey found a dime on the floor (and a nasty ass veggie straw that she ate). Yup, a whopping ten cents and she practically jizzed her pants.

ZOEY: Mom, LOOK!!! I’m going to spend it at the American Girl Doll store!!!

Bwahahahaha. Wait, I’m not done laughing. Bwhahahahaahahahha. You do that, honey. But since she’s only five and doesn’t really understand the whole money thing yet, she clenched that dime in her fist all day long planning to spend it on something special. And I’ll come back to the rest of the dime story later.

So as we were driving down to the city, we had the following conversation.

ME: Zoey, have you thought about what kind of doll you want?

ZOEY: I want the same one I got last time.

ME: Uhh, yeah, maybe we should get something a little different this time. You don’t want the EXACT same doll.

Even though I should have been fine with this choice because seriously, if my goal is to make her and her friends happy, having two of the same doll would stop them from beating the shit out of each other over who gets which doll. But I was an idiot and didn’t think about this at the time.

ZOEY: Well, I don’t want one with dark skin.

OMG, I think I just had a heart attack.

ME: Ummm, why?

Do I want to know why????

ZOEY: Because dark skin is icky.

OMG, OMG, OMG, I feel like someone just stabbed my heart with a knife. Seriously, I had to restrain myself from pulling over to the side of the road and beating her silly for that comment.

ME: Zoey, dark skin is NOT icky at all. That makes me so sad that you think that. Everyone is different and that’s what makes this world amazing.

ZOEY: Well, I didn’t mean that I don’t like it. I just don’t want a doll with dark skin.

ME: Honey, you can get whatever doll you want, but I just want to make sure you know that all skin colors are beautiful. Some of the most beautiful people in the world are black.

ZOEY: Mommmm, nobody’s black. They’re brown.

ME: But people call them black. Like you’re white.

ZOEY: Mommmm, I’m not white. I’m peach.

ME: Yeah, but you’re a white person.

ZOEY: Well, I’m gonna call myself a peach person.

ME: Whatever floats your boat, Zoey. But all skin colors are awesome.

Cut to us a half hour later walking into the American Girl Doll store. HOLE. E. SHIT. As if the prices aren’t scary enough, it looks like a bottle of Pepto Bismol threw up all over the place and a shitload of beady eyes are staring at me everywhere I look.

So we walked around and checked out allllllllll the choices. I mean yeah, some of them are cool with their histories, like one of them is supposed to be a news reporter and another one is a feminist, and they all seem like nice 18-inch role models, but mostly I was just like pick your doll so we can get outta here and go to the Lego Store and build something awesome. Because really Zoey plays with Legos a lot more than dolls and I’m totally hoping she’s an architect one day because that would be super cool.

ZOEY: I want that one.

She picked a nice fair red-headed doll.

ME: Yeah, okay. Let’s get her and then go to the Lego Store.

HELPER LADY: Can I hold that behind the register for you and you can get her on your way back?

Helllllls yeah, that would be awesome so I wouldn’t have to schlep around that GIANT box with us.

ME: Yes, please.

And then we went to the Lego Store for a while where my kid was a total badass and built this AMAZING people factory that makes human beings. See wayyyyyy better than a bazillion dollar doll.

KayaLego

And then we headed back to pick up little Miss Red-Headed Whitey Pants. Uhhh, I meanlittle Miss Red-Headed Peachy Pants.

ZOEY: Mom? I don’t think I want that doll anymore.

Please say you want Legos instead. Please say you want Legos instead.

ME: (hiding my excitement) Really?!!! What do you want? Maybe that kickass Millennium Falcon you can build out of Legos??!!!!

ZOEY: I want a different American Girl doll.

Awww shit, seriously? We spent like an hour here earlier and now we have to go look for a different doll?

ME: Okay, but we only have 14 minutes until the parking meter runs out so it has to be fast.

ZOEY: I know which one.

And she led me downstairs to the one she wanted.

Not blonde. Not red-headed. Not the one I would have guessed in a million years.

ZOEY: This one.

ME: (very skeptical) Are you sure?

ZOEY: I’m sure.

ME: And you’re definitely going to play with this one?

ZOEY: Yes.

ME: You’re positive?

ZOEY: Yes.

I had this fear that we were going to spend $120 on a doll and she would get home and decide she had made a mistake.

ME: You’re absolutely sure you want this one?

This adorable, leather-clad, moccasin-wearing, DARK-skinned Native American doll named Kaya.

ZOEY: Mommy, YES!

ME: Zoey. You. Are. Awesome.

I wanted to yell at the top of my lungs, “Yayyyyyyy, she picked the one with dark skin!!!!!!!” but I was pretty sure that wouldn’t sound right.

And then we left with her new kickass American Girl Doll.

KayaStore2

The doll she has played with countless times since that day. The doll who is now best friends with the blonde doll we already had. The doll who she chose as the one and only toy she would schlep to Florida on vacation.

KayaMcDsKayaAirport

KayaIsabell

Oh wait, I almost forgot. The rest of the dime story! Yup, at the end of all this, she was still clenching her little dime in her fist as we left the store. I didn’t even remember she still had it until we saw a homeless man sitting outside the exit. Truth be told, I’ve talked to her about homeless people before, but we live in the lame-o burbs and I’m not sure she’s ever seen one.

ME: Zoey, why don’t you give him your dime?

And she didn’t bat an eye. She didn’t argue. She didn’t say she was saving it for something else. She walked right over and handed it to him.

OMG, I think my heart just exploded. In a good way!

Anyways, I don’t mean to be all annoyingly braggy and shit, and pleeeease don’t feel like we’re perfect because later that night she probably did something douchebaggy to piss me off and then I probably yelled at her, but at that moment I felt like shit was going my way, and that doesn’t happen all the time. But sometimes it does.

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There are 30 comments for this article
  1. Adrienne Adams at 8:24 am

    As always you make me laugh, but this time you also restored my faith in humanity….or at least in the future of humanity! You know I spent an entire month agonizing over purchasing a Doc McStuffin doll for my friend’s mini….I mean the kid loves Doc and watches it all the time and has every toy with Doc plastered all over it, but she did not own a single doll. So, I decided I would get her one…then I kept thinking would people think I am pushing the black agenda?!?! Would they think I am being obnoxious because ,I a black woman, bought a black doll for a white (peach) kid?!?!? Then I decided [email protected]!#it…I am NOT going back to Target – and wouldn’t you know, it’s one of her favorites (well for at least as long as a 5yr old’s attention span lasts) – it holds court with her massive collection of Disney Princess dolls. Yay!

    • Monica at 10:43 am

      Adrienne..OMG..I had the same experience with my daughter’s Christmas grab bag at school. She’s the only black girl in her class, actually in her school and she loves Doc McStuffins. So I just assumed that all the kids her age loves Doc but then I started thinking that the other parents would think that I bought the doll because we’re black. I really second guessed myself about it but then said what the hell..it’s a grab bag present and if they don’t like it then they can donate it. The little kindergartener who picked it out was absolutely excited about it and I felt much better.

      • Shanna at 11:22 am

        It’s sad that you had to second guess yourself. Would you have thought twice about a Dora or Diego grab bag or doll? That we have to question if there’s a “hidden black agenda” in a simple gift makes me sad. From a lily-white mama of a lily-white kid, we wouldn’t have thought twice about the gift bag or the doll (other than the fact that my kid is a boy who claims the “pink aisle” makes him nauseous, so he might have questioned the doll purchase) lol. I hope the day comes that you can confidently give gifts that are positive representations of your ethnicity and that they are received with the same love and affection that I’m sure they’re given in. 🙂

    • BabySideburns at 12:52 pm

      Adrienne and Monica, I hadn’t thought of it that way. Verrrrry interesting. I can totally see why you would feel that way. So glad you both went ahead and bought the Doc doll!! And hey, if the kiddo did not respond the “right” way, hopefully their parents would have had a meaningful discussion with them about how important it is to always be gracious and about how all skin colors are beautiful. Win-win. Kudos to you both!!!

  2. Helen at 8:32 am

    That’s such a wonderful story and I almost cried too! But I’m just wondering why the blonde haired doll has an ice pack on her forehead? Maybe she was so jealous of the new do that she almost fainted?

  3. Flannery Aquino Wilcox at 9:50 am

    I think it’s hysterical that the ad at the top of your blog is a coupon for American girl dolls. That said, this is a great karma high five for your munchkin, and every mom who reads this is giving it to her. Yay for Zoey!

  4. Amber C. at 9:52 am

    Zoey is awesome. Also, is that a grass skirt she is wearing? Even nore awesome points. Just more proof you are doing good mama!

  5. Ursula at 10:21 am

    You rock as usual, as does your kiddo. My son also refers to “white” skin as peach – started doing that about the time he learned to talk. I was so proud of him for coming up with that, and for so matter-of-factly talking about skin color as a mere observance (not a context) – the same way we would about hair color. Now if we can just work on all those people and companies that refer to a color like “peach” as “flesh” or “natural” or “nude” (as if that color is the norm, and all other colors are abnormal) – then we’ll really have accomplished something! 🙂

  6. Shanna at 10:32 am

    I guess my parents were ahead of their time, because as a little white girl ( I won’t even say peach, because I’m pretty sure you can see through my skin) in the 70’s, I had tons of Barbies, including the black Christy fashion model, the Christy beach doll and a black Ken with a fake beard. I also had brunettes, an Asian Pippa, Native Americans and the Mormon Marie Osmond doll. lol. My parents made sure I always had a variety and never made a big deal about their blond haired, blue eyed little girl playing with other skin-toned dolls. They also never batted an eye when I played baseball, made mud pies and stole my brother’s Tonka trucks. 🙂

  7. Rachel at 10:40 am

    I love those brief moments when your kids does something so Awesome it makes you feel like you’ve been doing it right and it was all worth it. Even if they DO p**s you off like 10 mins later…. the brief moment of awesomeness out weights all the crappy stuff

  8. Monica at 10:56 am

    Love the article!! Yay for Zoey and you. There are learning experiences in everything as I’m dealing with the same thing with my 6 year old.

  9. Dana Camacho at 11:36 am

    In addition to you and your kid being awesome, I’m so happy that there *are* lots of colors of American Girl dolls. My daughter is Polish, Slovak, Puerto Rican and Mexican. There was a lovely café-au-lait doll there for her. I love that there *are* native American dolls and that Doc McStuffins is black! Thank goodness society is moving in the right direction, at least in this small way. Now we’ve got to work on Barbie and those skinny-a*s Disney princesses….

  10. Robert Voigt at 3:48 pm

    LOVE the roller coaster ride w you and kid! (Just like I was on it.) SUCH an important consideration these days… IYC, Gladwell’s ‘Blink’ has grt rationale about how kids/adults make these quick decisions of life and about what’s cool… Something about our whole experience funneling down to an unconscious knee-j**k about which way to go. In short, our ‘blink’ decision is a thin slice of all our past experiences, feelings, thoughts, etc. He says we can do better tho– If we want better ‘blinks’, we have to inform that subconscious by purposely exposing ourselves to people/culture/world we WANT to be like. Sorta makes sense.

  11. Majaliwa Bass at 4:37 pm

    This post almost brought me to tears but I held it together at work. I don’t many people realize the impact that the color of doll can have on little girls. I love that you talked to Zoey about dark skin not being icky and I love that she’s love her brown doll. What a great teachable moment.

  12. Shannon at 8:24 pm

    That’s awesome. My son doesn’t have any dolls (yet), but I love that we have such a diversity of races in the characters in our children’s books. The Snowy Day is one of his favorites right now, as we’ve been going out to play in the snow. Like one of the above commenters, I too had the black Barbie as a kid and she was my favorite. She was actually the only one I kept when I got rid of the rest of them because I thought she was the prettiest.

  13. Stefanie at 8:43 pm

    I love this. I’ve had nearly the exact same conversation with my child about skin colors. She told me she doesn’t like brown skin, I nearly died. But then proceeded to tell me because brown is not her favorite color. She didn’t see it as a difference in the person with that skin, she saw it as a box of crayons. Peach isn’t her favorite color either., I’m sure she wishes she was hot pink. A few weeks later for her birthday, she desperately wanted the cake with the Barbie (with the skirt made of frosting, etc.) and chose a brown Barbie for it. She also really really wants Kaya for her next American Girl. Kids don’t think of someone of another color being “icky” until someone tells them they are.

  14. Barbie at 9:40 pm

    I have had the same conversation with my son about skin color! He had stated numerous times that he does not like brown and black skin. My response was always lecturing on how everyone is different and we all are loved by God, that is a very hurtful statement. I never thought to dig deeper into his statement, instead I was horrified that he would say such things! I finally just asked him why one day and he just said brown and black is not his favorite color. And the color black means scary and ghosts. I was so relieved to realize he was not hating on the color of people’s skin! I did ask him what color he would like to be and he stated red (which is his favorite color)

  15. Tamara at 10:03 am

    So my husnband is racist. It’s undercover and he won’t actually admit it it, but he really is. I’m always chastising him about remarks made in front of the kids. (We’re African American). Imagine my tickledness when my son says he’s only going to like or marry a girl with yellow hair!! (Blonde) LMBO!!!! I love it!!!!! And his little girlfriend at school is white with yellow hair. It’s hilarious. I love that there are other moms of all races who are striving to erase racism in their children’s generation. 🙂

  16. Punita at 12:25 pm

    Raising race conscious kids doesn’t happen after a one-time discussion, it’s an on-going thing, right? So if this is the first of many chats throughout her life, it’s a pretty good one. Especially because you didn’t react with a “no, we don’t say that,” but actually communicated the why behind “we don’t say that.” Teaching her that all colors can be beautiful was a great first step… and I’m so glad this story ended the way it did.
    I hope you guys keep it up and are able to continue having positive and “courageous” conversations.

  17. Laurel at 9:28 pm

    This makes my heart so happy. I was SO much like Zoey as a kid (I was a creative asshole too!) and Kaya was my favorite doll!! I still have her, of course. She’s great. I’m so happy for the Kaya love ? Have you guys read the books yet??

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