Coats were on and heads were being counted when she shared it with me.
“Mommy, I have to tell you something. A girl in my class said, ‘Is your mom Chinese?’ I said, ‘No.’ Then, she said, ‘Well, you have Chinese eyes so your mom has to be Chinese.’ But, I told her, ‘No, she doesn’t.’ “
And a few seconds of quiet and eye contact.
“Oh, honey, did that make you feel bad?”
With a cock-eyed look and the tone of a teenager who thinks her mom was never a girl her age…
The crew got out the door and went on with our plans. Lydia bounced around as usual, filling whatever space she is in with joy and a healthy dose of noise and chaos. Despite the normalcy of it all, I knew I had to get back to that conversation despite the sassy “No” she gave me. I knew I couldn’t just let that be as it was left.
It was a day later when we sat alone at the kitchen table, casually parallel. A blank page laid before her while her fists held too many crayons, about to be put to work.
“Hey Honey, remember that thing you told me about your friend asking if you had a Chinese mom?”
She set to work, her tongue sticking out the corner of her mouth as it does every time she’s hard at work, just like her mother’s does.
“Well, some kids might feel a little sad about that, maybe about the fact that they are Chinese but don’t have a Chinese mom, or maybe just because they feel like someone was making fun of them. Some kids might not at all. But, some kids would, and that’s okay. I wonder if you maybe felt that way.”
“Nope. I told you already I didn’t.”
“Yup, you did. That’s right. But, I just wanted to make sure because it would be okay if you did. Okay?”
She continued to create as I watched beside her, filling the page that was empty with bright color much like she does every time she enters a room. Just when it looked complete and she put down her tools and leaned back to admire it, she abruptly leaned in close as if she was a master painter who noticed her masterpiece needed just one more touch of paint.
She picked up a crayon again and added:
I love you
“Here you go!”
She popped up and put it in my hands, promptly bouncing off to see what her sister was doing and leaving me alone with her creation, a tangible reminder that she and me are “we” even though we don’t have the same eyes. This time someone noticed we’re different and it didn’t bother her. I’m glad it didn’t as any mother would be glad that her little one’s heart is not injured by another little one. But, I’m ready if it ever does. I’ll sit beside her when it does and tell her I’m sorry. I’ll color my own picture for her in words.
I love you
This thing God did by putting us together, a little Chinese girl who has a Chinese mommy on the other side of the world who couldn’t parent her and a white mommy who wanted another little one, is good. It’s hard, and it’s founded in brokenness. But, it’s good. It’s good.