As a kid I hated moving around, city to city, state to state. I didn’t get it and I was always mad when we moved away from friends I had just made. We moved from Northern Indiana to Colorado, then back to Southern Indiana, until we finally settled in Bloomington for the last five years of my education before college. I met all sorts of interesting people and was really immersed in different cultures when I lived in Colorado. As an adult I see how much it benefitted me and made me into the adult I am today. Having made friends quickly, enjoyed different experiences, meeting a wide variety of people, and learning new traditions. My kids, however, are growing up in Bloomington, just here, we don’t plan on moving at all, we might even stay in the same home until they are in college, way different from what my young life was.
Bloomington has a great diversity of people, and I am glad my kids will grow up knowing and experiencing a variety of people. But my three-year-old is just starting to realize not everyone is the same as her.
At two she was pseudo obnoxious in public. But, at three, all bets are off. She is making connections all the time and sometimes it’s adorable, like when she asks *as loud as she can* if any woman wearing a dress is a Princess, then there are some others like, “Oh, that’s a daddy,” when it’s actually a woman with short hair. These are both great opportunities to teach our children about the differences and similarities in people.
I have found that addressing these questions and observations on the spot is the best route. Here are some things that are or will work on addressing on the spot.
Recently, we were in Target when my little declared, “Mama, she has BLUE HAIR!!” The lady she saw heard her, no question, I said, “Isn’t that cool?” And toddler said, “Yes, I like yellow hair too!!”
This perplexes my daughter more than other things because she has a mommy and a daddy, and she can’t quite grasp why some kids have two mommies or two daddies. But it’s important to address. I simply keep saying, “Some people have two mommies, some people have two daddies, and the mommies and daddies love them just like I love you.” We are still working on grasping this concept. She has grasped that my stepson has his own mommy, and I think that is helping her understand that families don’t always look the same. Sometimes her brother goes to his other mommy’s house.
People with disabilities:
It hasn’t come up yet, but I’m more than happy to talk with her about it when it does. We are all people trying our best in this life and depending on the disability, will depend on my response to it. I have found that some people are more than willing to talk with a child about how their disability makes them who they are and can explain how they live their life differently.
So far my experience with race is that my toddler doesn’t see it. I had an African- American doll growing up and I knew I wanted my daughter to have the same, so when she was one, that’s what I bought and that’s all we had for a whole year and I think that has made an impact on her. (You don’t have to have a daughter to get a doll either, boys like dolls too!)
This has come up a few times when we pass people downtown. First of all, I always ask if she wants to give money to them by herself, sometimes she says yes, sometimes no. If she says no, I will do it, so she is getting a good example of helping others. As she gets older I hope to show her more of what we can do for our homeless population, such as getting someone a hot meal, donating to shelters, or volunteering to serve a meal at the holidays.