“You’re turning green!” I teased Rowan after noticing his bare feet were stained from the freshly cut grass. Instantly he started crying, not realizing I was kidding. I pulled him onto my lap and assured him that his pigment was not changing. Not one to miss a teaching moment, I opened the door to a conversation about race.
“I understand that turning green would probably be pretty scary, but it’s okay to be any color. You’d still be Rowan, and I’d still love you no matter what color you were. Did you know that there are lots of people who are a different colors than you and I?” I asked my sniffling son.
“What colors?” He wondered.
“Well, all sorts! Black, white, tan, brown-dark and light-all kinds of colors!”
“Oh.” He leaned back, and thought silently for a few moments. “I bet the mommy’s of the orange kids love them the best. Orange is the best color of ALL the colors! I hope I have an orange friend some day. Or red. Red is good too.”
Stifling a laugh, I sent him off to play.
Later, during our bedtime routine, I purposefully pulled a book off the shelf that features a Hispanic family and an African-American friend. I asked Rowan if he remembered how I told him people come in all sorts of colors, and he did. I asked him what he thought when he saw the pictures of the kids with darker skin.
“I think I really like the little boy’s wagon and he was nice to share. I want to play with the girl too. Did you see she has a scooter, Mom?!!!”
In his wonderfully three year old style he stated what every human should know: Skin color doesn’t matter. Having good toys and being willing to share them does.