Last night at dinner Deaglan told us a story about a new kid in his class. The kid had the same name as another kid. I asked him if he meant that kid – thought maybe he was still referring to him in this way because he was a junior kindergartner while he himself was a senior kindergartner this year.
"No." he explained. This new kid was not the one I was referring to. This new kid had “brown all over himself.”
Shaune and I looked up from our plates.
We have never had any lengthy discussions about race in our house, mostly because the kids are young. But also because a conversation about race these days is made considerably more complicated by the fact that a noticeable number of the kids our kids' ages are of mixed ethnicity just like our boys.
One time before this, when we’d landed on a channel airing The Karate Kid movie (the new version with Will Smith’s son), during a fight scene between a group of Chinese boys and the Karate Kid, Deaglan jumped up and exclaimed very excitedly, “Mom, those are Shilo’s brothers!”
This was at the beginning of the year when we still hadn’t put names to faces of his new class mates. When he kept bringing Shilo (pronounced Shee-lo) up I’d thought maybe it was an Arabic name.
“Oh, does Shilo look like those boys honey?” I asked.
“Yes! I think those might be his brothers. They even have the same hair!”
So when he described the new Nathan and clarified the difference between the old Nathan by telling us that he was "brown all over himself", Shaune and I were amused. The Nathan I was referring to, the son of a work colleague is of African-American descent. Although he is biracial.
“Is he brown all over himself like Mommy and Naveen?” Shaune asked.
“No, he’s dark brown with balding hair.”
I bit my cheek to stay very serious. "Like Daddy's hair?"
“What colour am I?” I asked, trying to get a better sense of Nathan’s background.
“You’re light brown.”
Delighted by the way he saw us, I probed further. “What colour are you?”