Monday, November 19, 2007

Her Skin is Not the Same

Yesterday, Viva and I were out and about. She was in a great mood because we had spent pretty much the entire weekend together and I am about 85% back to normal health. This means I’m not running around in the backyard playing tag with her, but I am able to spend several hours at a time with her before needing a break. We have been cooking together, drawing together, reading, playing games, doing puzzles, and the like. Despite her being in a very contrary phase wherein if you say one thing, she will say the exact opposite for no apparent reason, I have really been enjoying our time together.

So we were in the Cost Plus World Market, chumming around together, picking out a few Christmas ornaments (which, really, is ridiculous since it’s mid-November, but don’t even let me commence) and getting some curtains, and then we went to pay for our purchases. As we were being rung up, the cashier looked at Viva and back at me and said, “She is your daughter?”

“Yeah, yeah she is,” I said, picking up one of the bags and putting it in the cart.

“She looks so different from you,” she said.

“Do you think so?” I said. “I think she looks a lot like me.”

“My daughter is sort of like that,” she said, staring at Viva. Viva started to wrap her arms around my leg and hide her face. “Her skin is not the same.”

“Hmm,” I said, because at that point I just wanted to get out of the store. I don’t think this woman (who had white skin and spoke with an unidentified accent) was trying to be rude, but if in fact she did have a child who looks different from her, she might be expected to understand that it’s not polite to point that out. I had no desire to bond with her over whatever she felt we had in common, it was clearly making Viva uncomfortable, and added to that, there was a line of people behind us – none of whom was (visibly, at least) a person of color. I realize to most people we look different because they are not looking closely. I look white, and Viva looks black. The fact that we are both a mixture of both is not readily apparent. It is not easy. It is not comfortable. It’s also not anybody’s business but ours.

Anyway, we paid for our things and we left the store, and we ate ginger cookies in the car on the way home, me and my little daughter whose skin is not the same. And by God, we were happy to be together.

All the same, it’s been nibbling away at the back of my brain. I’m irritated. And Viva, home today with a nasty cough, is evidently not napping, so this post ends here.


Janie said...

Can we just round up all the ignorant folks (both intellectually and socially) and enroll them in biology and etiquette classes?!

I'm glad your feeling better and that you and Viva were able to enjoy the rest of your day!

Lisa Blah Blah said...

janie, I think you should open a school! :)

Thanks for your kind words and have a happy Thanksgiving!

Nerd Girl said...

I am 35 years old - my mother is quite fair, I am not. People are always asking us if we're mother/daughter. Does the fact that I'm calling her "Mom" not tip these people off? Not to mention, that much like Viva and yourself, we do look alike - we're just different shades o' brown. Janie's right - a refresher in genetics would come in quite handy. Punnet's square anyone?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mango Mama said...

Girl, Folks are so consumed skin color and don't believe the hype, it's not just here in the States, it's all over the world, and oh... by some maddening phenomenon, it's always the darker hue that gets the short end of the stick, no matter where you go. But honey, you did the right thing, keep it moving and try your best to keep you fabluous little girl out of the fray.

Liz said...

I was just talking to someone today about what happens when folks make these kinds of wack comments and statements in front of your children.

My dad once commented to someone who said something similar about us, "Gosh, she's so beautiful, I'd be lucky if I looked more like her!"

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

KD said...

WTF is wrong with people? Sigh...I'm going to apply to be a teacher's aide at Janie's school...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Lisa Blah Blah said...

Happy belated Thanksgiving to all!

Woo, do I have stories. If I had time during NaBloPoMo, I could probably post one every day about people who feel the need to get all up in my business about Viva. Hmm...maybe that will be my next post.

Nerdgirl! Ironically, my mom went through the same thing with me. She is tan, with dark hair and dark eyes, and often mistaken for Latino. People always either thought she was my babysitter or marveled at how different I looked from her, with my light hair, light eyes, and light skin. Ugh. So it continues to the next generation...

Mango Mama: I know that's right, it is everywhere. And people are lucky that I'm so polite (translation: usually so shocked by the rudeness that I don't know how to respond). My husband's response to my story is completely unprintable!

Liz: Your dad had a very sweet yet "put you in your place" answer! And BTW, I wish I did look more like Viva sometimes!

I'll write more on this later. I'm still recuperating from Thanksgiving...

Lisa Blah Blah said...

KD, I am telling you I do not know. I do know that between you and Janie, you could straighten some people out! How is life behind the Orange Curtain? Will you ever move back to L.A.? Inquiring minds want to know.

Janie said...

Hi Lisa Blah Blah,
I'm tagging you! See my post " Tag-I'm It" for details!