Explaining “Black People” to a Five Year Old


united-colors-of-benetton-kidsThis weekend our family drove on the Jackie Robinson Parkway in New York. We asked Lady C (our 5 year old) if she knew who Jackie Robinson was because we previously told her about him and wanted to see if she remembered the history lesson. She said he did something in football (cue her father rolling his eyes) which we corrected to baseball. Then we told her he was the first black person to play major league baseball.

She paused a little and Aisha asked… “Do you know any black people?”

Lady C confidently said “NO”.

Ok… so, we asked if she knew any white people and she named several of her classmates and explicitly excluded a black girl in her class … let’s call her “Kelly”. We asked her what Kelly was and appropriately, she said Kelly was … a brown person… aha!

Lady C said: “She’s brown like me and you and daddy!” At this point, we didn’t realize that she left someone important out…

So we used the reference to brown people to explain that when people refer to black people they are talking about brown people whose ancestors are from the African continent. We had to have some discussion and correction there because she thought it was riiiight next to America. We let her know “Africa’s far”! Then came the interesting part… she said that Lady H was not black. She was a white person because she was tan like white people…

And then she asked us if allllll brown people are black people.

Whew… *Pause*

It ended up being a wonderful conversation about the fact that black people whose ancestors come from Africa come in all sorts of wonderful colors of brown ranging from the color of her little sister, all the way to the color of her mommy. We also told her that some brown people come from all different parts of the globe and not all brown people are black people…

It shed light on the very important and often overlooked fact:

Talking about race is NOT easy! 

When people want you to simplify things they say, “Explain it like I’m a 5 year old!” But ACTUALLY explaining race to a 5 year old is not that simple!  In fact, we had to draw from a bunch of different sources to get the point across:

  • From Mulan, the movie (to explain ancestors)
  • From Crayola (for the names of different skin tones: tan, brown, etc)
  • From her classmate (to give examples of non-black)
  • From genetics (to explain why Little Sister looks different from the rest of the family)

So clearly race shouldn’t be treated like it’s an easy topic. Maybe more people would  get along if they didn’t treat race like it was a black and white issue…literally!

How do you discuss race with your kids? In fact, WHEN did you start the discussion? Did you wait for them to come to you or did you “prime” them when they were about to start playing with other races? We’d love to know!

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Hello Halloween!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Costume Memory Lane

If you know the GreenEs you know that we love to dress up for Halloween as a family unit. Since our first daughter was born we have picked a theme and all dressed up together and we are ready to go for 2014 too! Each year we find it more and more difficult to choose a costume given our older daughter’s “opinion” about what she should be. Just like every other little girl, she wants to be Elsa or Anna from Frozen but… oh well, on Halloween we have a bit of a dictatorship.

Nope – we are not revealing our costumes in advance… you have to wait until October 31 to see what the Greenes will be but let’s take a walk down memory lane to see some of our prior costumes.

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It all started in Year One – October 2009. Wizard of Oz… please note Mr. GreenE commitment…. in sweat pants LOL… Sometimes you have to work with what you have!

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October 2010 – inspired by Aisha’s favorite musical we dressed as the cast of Grease. Yes, we know Hayden looks like Elvis but he’s actually Danny. Aisha is Sandy (pleather pants owww) and Lady C was a pink lady!

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October 2011 – The year we dressed up as Austin Powers, Dr. Evil and Mini-me. Pretty sure that Lady C will never forgive us for putting her in a bald cap but look – we MUST commit to the costume!

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October 2012 – Mario, Luigi and a Mushroom. Aisha was pregnant with Lady H so a costume that worked around the growing belly was crucial.

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October 2013. The first time Lady H had the pleasure of experiencing Halloween with the Greenes… she hates us too. We present- Gru, Agnes, a good minion and an evil minion.

Do you and your family dress up for Halloween? What are some of the cutest family costumes you have seen. What do you think the Greenes will be this year?

eta: October 2014 family costume – Annie

Miss Hannigan, Sandy, Daddy Warbucks and Annie

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Top 5 Reasons Parents Should Travel Without Their Kids

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Refreshed and happy parents!

The grown up Greenes just got back from vacation… like real vacation, not a trip (which is what you do when you travel with your children) and boy are we recharged and feeling goooooooot (that’s good, with a cherry on top). Before we had kidlets, the Greenes were traveling fools! The traveling did not stop once we had children – both of them have passports and have traveled abroad already – but now our travel is more dominated with separate travel for conferences or travel with the children. We love traveling with our children – it’s fun and it’s a great way to show children different parts of the globe but… it’s no vacation. Even with all the babysitting amenities available… it’s not the same. We decided, after a two year hiatus to travel for more than one day, together, without kids… and it was a VACATION. We earned it – we deserved it – our relationship deserved it.

We understand that not everyone can travel without their kids because of childcare issues but if you are one of those parents that don’t want to travel for emotional or attachment issues, let us help you out with the top 5 reasons parents should travel without their kids sometimes.

No. 5 “Travel lite”

We can’t remember packing so light and so easily. When you are traveling with children, particularly an infant you tend to pack a LOT. And you have to check luggage… and pay for that checked luggage. And you have to drag that luggage around. First World Problem but annoying. When you travel WITHOUT kids … You can pack one tiny itty bitty bag! It was so freeing! Don’t need diapers or wipes or sippy cups or their favorite snack in case they reject the other food… bathing suit, check… uh, yea – done packing!!!

No. 4 “Kiddie Confidence”

It is actually a good thing for children to feel safe and secure with AND without their parents around. It can give them the sound mind that other trustworthy grown ups in their lives can be a source of fun for them. When we went away we had the awesome experience of having multiple caregivers who all chipped in to help. Both grandmothers, a god mother and a family friend who happened to be having a sleepover that weekend all helped us to have a great experience and make our children comfortable too. Give it a try!

No. 3 “Sleep When You Want”

We are pretty strict parents about sleeping and have sleep trained both of our children. When on trips with the kids, one of the toughest parts is that one or both of us needs to call it an early night so that we can get the kids to bed. Lady C (currently 5 years old) can adapt to staying up late for special occasions but Lady H (the toddler) is a grump when she’s not in bed by 7pm… it’s put a cramp on when we eat and when we retire to the bed and who stays behind. And we also wake up too early. Kids don’t understand sleeping in for vacation. When the kids are not with you – you can stay out and got to bed when you want and wake up when you want!! Granted, on this vacation, we probably still went to bed earlier than most but dammit – that was OUR CHOICE. We also slept *gasp* on the beach… in a hammock… This hammock…

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Doesn’t that look relaxing??? Reading a book… in a hammock…

No. 2 “Romance Rekindled”

The strain kids put on romance cannot be overshadowed. Once you have children it is very easy to forget about you and your mate and what makes you go vavavoom. It’s not just the physical – it’s the long walks, the candle light dinners, standing in the rain or swimming in the water and just kissing for no reason other than that you can pay attention to each other. When you travel with the kids, at times it can be exhausting so it ends up being more like you are traveling with your co-parent as opposed to your hot and sexy spouse. On this particular vacation… well, we rekindled!!! *Dancing*

And… the number 1 reason to travel without the kids…. I think we said it before and will say it again… IT’S A VACATION!

You can do what you want, when you want, how you want… or do NOTHING AT ALL. You can lay on a beach and not get buried in the sand, unless you are into that. You can drink grown up drinks and it does not matter if you have a headache in the morning. You can sleep in late. You can read a 900 page historical fiction epic trilogy that you’ve been meaning to start (shout out to Ken Follett)… and you can miss your kids just a little and go back home and snuggle them and plan for your next adventure with them. You will miss them, they will miss you but it’s worth it for you, for them, for your marriage and for your sanity.

SO – sound off any parents out there traveling without their kids? Anyone hesitant to do so and still not convinced… Discuss in the comments below!

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