It was 5:38am this morning when I found myself nose to nose with my 5 year-old twin girl. She was already wearing most of the costume, and I knew the question she had asked meant ‘could she leave the house with it on?’
When it comes to my kids, I have a very high set of standards. I don’t meet them dead on every time, but I meet it 94% of the time (+ or – 3). These standards include how they dress, how they act in public, what they do in school. To some, it may seem I’m being over the top, but my kids don’t understand the world we live in.
The reality of it is, my black family is looked at differently every time we leave the house….no, you don’t get to counter with your argument…this is our reality. Our reality is that if my 5-year-old twins act like your average five-yea- olds in public, people who don’t look like us suck their teeth, but laugh the “precociousness” of the blonde kid ripping candy off of the cash register aisle. Our reality is, I have been told twice that I “must be a really good nanny,” when I’ve had my kids out at a restaurant or store. Our reality is, I’ve been asked on several different occasions are my kids’ “fathers,” plural, in their lives. Our reality is, when telling my kids names I’ve been asked “Do they all have the same last names?” All these questions and comments by people…who don’t look like me. And it doesn’t matter if I make sure my diamond wedding band is prominently displayed on the correct finger, or that I try to drop the hint that my marriage is three years more mature than our oldest son…the comments still happen.
“Why did that mom pull her kid off the playground?” is something I’ve had to explain.
This is our reality.
And because of this, I hold my kids to higher standards. They must dress better, be better, act better…just so that these people, who don’t look like me, won’t have anything to say…even though it’s not their business to say. I have to make sure my kids have a chance in the world we were given.
And then November 8th happened.
People misunderstand my disdain for his appointment. I don’t fear the power of his position; I fear his permission. I fear the permission he gave to people to say, and do, whatever they want, even though I’ve gotten enough of that already…but that was with the filter.
The filter has been removed now, with his permission.
“Can I be Doc McStuffins?”
The question hung in the air.
No, you can’t be Doc McStuffins, because people will not see a kid in a Halloween costume on November 9, and think how cute she is, they’ll think I’m trifling and don’t take care of you or have enough money to provide you with the proper clothes. No, you can’t be Doc McStuffins, because people won’t understand how excited you are that there’s a cartoon character you identify with because she reminds you of your aunt who is an actual doctor. No, you can’t be Doc McStuffins, because at the end of the day I have to set you up to be treated like the actual queen you deserve to be treated like, not “the n*gger,” “the thug,” or “the welfare queen,” they have called your mother.
And then I realized…she’s 5. She has absolutely no idea what the heck is going on right now….and it’s my job as her mother to try and perpetuate the idea that she can be anything she wants to be, for as long as I can.