Guess what’s back? Oh right, me asking the internet for parenting advice.
But seriously, I’m one of those people who thinks it really does take a village, that the wisdom of women who have forged this path of parenting before me is a gift and I am not about to pretend that I have all the answers. As evidenced in the story that follows.
Anyhow, here’s what happened.
I’m out with Scarlette when she points at a woman and asks “Whas dat?”
And to be honest with you, I was a slightly embarrassed by her phrasing. I mean, obviously she is only two years old but she was still saying “What is that?” in reference to a person who was within earshot of us.
I glance over and don’t see anything that she might be asking about in particular and so I answer “Scarlette, that’s a lady.”
I figured that maybe it was about that time developmentally when we start learning the difference between boys and girls.
A few days later we took her to the zoo. Scarlette pointed at a woman next to us and asked “Mama, is dat a wady?”
I answered that yes, it was a lady.
(And again I was slightly embarrassed because obviously she was a woman and I didn’t want to make her feel badly, like that maybe my two year old thought she looked like a man.)
For the rest of the day she kept randomly pointing at people asking us “Is dat a wady?”
And sometimes I’d answer “Yes, that is a lady” and other times I’d answer “No, that is a man.”
The next night we took her to a fireworks show at our local park and this time she started pointing people out to me and exclaiming excitedly “DAT A WADY! DAT A WADY!”
And sometimes I’d answer “Yes, that IS a lady” and other times I’d answer “No, that is a MAN.”
And I was really starting to wonder why gender was such a seemingly difficult concept for her to grasp.
About halfway through the night I figured out what was actually going on.
She was only asking “Is that a lady?” about people with darker skin.
I think that what has happened here is that the first time she asked me, I did not realize that she was asking me about skin color. And so I told her that the woman was a lady. And since I suppose that two year olds don’t actually know the meaning of the word “lady” she took that to mean all people with darker skin are called ladies.
Stellar parenting on my part, y’all.
It’s incredibly important to me that Scarlette see all people as the same so I picked up a few picture books on the topic (including one featuring the Sesame Street gang because Elmo’s word is gold around here) and am hoping that I can subtly undo the whole “lady” thing and it will just be a non-issue.
(Actually, I had just sort of assumed that it would be a non-issue to begin with because I figured we would just lead by example and all that. Oh two year olds, throwing a wrench in all your plans.)
But I’d love to know: How did you talk to your children about all this? I would seriously love to hear your story.