me: Here’s my plan. I’ll do my questions and at the end we have something different. Ready?
me: What are your favorite frozen yogurt flavors and toppings?
T-man: Favorite toppings? Candy corn – ’cause you won’t let us have that at the house – hot fudge, and skittles. My favorite flavors would probably be the ooey gooey cinnamon bun and cookies & cream.
me: Those are both yummy. What movie would you recommend to a friend and why?
T-man: Ms. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children ’cause it’s like a horror/comedy film. And it’s kind of weird to think about, like with the loops.
me: I agree. Let’s say you get $40 for your birthday –
me: What do you do with it?
T-man: I would probably buy…jeez, I don’t know…oh, iTunes!
me: Apps or music?
T-man: Both…crazy apps are like $7, like Minecraft.
me: I don’t buy any apps that cost that much money!
T-man: Everybody has it and it’s actually pretty fun to play.
me: So what do you think about what’s been in the news lately?
T-man: About Trump?
me: Sure. He’s been in the news.
T-man: He’s crazy.
me: What makes you think that?
T-man: He says some really stupid things that are really annoying.
me: What has he said that you’ve disagreed with?
T-man: “We will build the wall!” Not this week, but, you know…just in general, that’s a sound bite.
me: All right.
T-man: Other stuff in the news…the girl that got taken from [local middle school].
me: Yeah. What do you think about that?
me: It is…and apparently she was with a friend, she wasn’t by herself.
T-man: Oh! Really?
T-man: So her friend got taken, too?
me: No, I think they just grabbed her off the street. It’s kind of scary…Do the kids at your school talk about things that are going on in the world?
T-man: Not really. Except for ISIS. That’s about it.
me: What kind of stuff do they talk about besides ISIS? If you’re walking down the hall what do you hear?
T-man: Who’s dating who. New trends. Really fun video games.
me: This one’s a thinker. How do you see adoption portrayed in movies and tv shows?
T-man: I don’t know.
me: Have you noticed it in any movies or tv shows?
T-man: No, except for Annie. But I haven’t seen that in a long time…
me: That’s true, it’s been a really long time since we watched that one. So there wasn’t anything about Annie that struck you?
T-man: No, not really.
me: What did you think about Finding Dory? That wasn’t really an adoption movie, but it did talk about her going back to find her parents.
T-man: It was intense. All she goes through to find her parents.
me: It is. I remember you saying it was a very emotional movie. (T-man nods.) Let’s say you could create a tv show that had adoption in it. What would it look like?
T-man: I’d probably have a kid who gets adopted to several different people and finally finds a suitable family for him.
me: So it would be about his search for the right family? I bet people would watch that… What does being black feel like in your school?
T-man: It’s different ’cause there’s nobody else that’s black.
me: Wait, nobody?
T-man: Well, not nobody, but it feels like that.
me: It does? Wow.
T-man: Well, kids are always saying “That’s racist!” and stuff like that.
me: You mean they’re saying it when it actually isn’t?
T-man: Yeah. Like, if you say the word “black” or “white” they’ll say “That’s racist!”
me: That’s so weird, that came up with a kid in my reading group this week…You know what’s interesting? There’s this whole generation of parents that were raised to think that the perfect world would be colorblind. Have you heard the word colorblind before?
me: They were raised to think that if we grew into ourselves, color wouldn’t matter and color wouldn’t even be noticed. So you would walk around and ideally you wouldn’t even see it. I don’t believe that anymore.
me: Because God made us all different for a reason, and I think just noticing that you’re different from someone else doesn’t mean that it’s racist, it just is. Can you think of an example of something someone said and someone else called it racist?
T-man: There are so many examples that I don’t really remember.
me: So it’s come up a lot…you say you feel like the only person. How many kids in your classes are black?
me: Wow. So when you meet other students who have brown skin, you’re meeting them in the cafeteria or the gym?
T-man: No, not really. Wait, what?
me: Well, you said you only have one in your class. So when you’re in the gym and you’re waiting for dismissal…I don’t know if you want to use percentages or fractions…I mean, more than half? Less than half? When you look around that room at all the faces how many people would you say are brown skinned?
T-man: Less than half.
me: So you feel kind of like you stick out. (T-man nods.) Are you okay with that?
T-man: Yeah. I’ve been living in a white community for so long that I’m kind of used to it.
me: That’s true. So what’s your favorite thing about middle school?
T-man: Freedom. A lot more freedom. We get to walk on our own to places, and we get to have our phones with us.
me: Okay. What’s your least favorite thing?
T-man: Reading class is extremely long.
me: So it’s not the class itself, it’s just that it’s such a long block?
T-man: Well, I’m not a big fan of reading class.
me: That’s true, that’s never been your favorite subject.
T-man: So I don’t really like the class and it’s three times longer than any other class.
me: Your teacher sounded like she wasn’t such a big fan of the schedule either.
T-man: I like how there’s a break, though, in the middle.
me: Alright, I want you to think back…what’s your earliest memory?
T-man: My oldest memory…? Going to the beach. It’s been a while since we have.
me: So when you picture yourself at the beach, the very first time that you see it, are you walking? Are you swimming yet?
T-man: No, I just kind of picture the house. Like I remember where everything was. (describes house layout)
me: Do you remember being out on the deck? Do you remember the beach fireworks?
T-man: Oh yeah! I could never get to sleep.
me: All right, at the end of each talk we’re doing Flip the Interview which means you can ask me one question. Anything you wanna ask, I’ll answer for you.
T-man: Hmmm…oh, I know. Why are you such a crazy mom?
me: Define crazy.
T-man: Wait, you’re not crazy like (makes a weird face). You’re like fun-crazy.
me: (laughing) Well, first, thank you. That’s a very nice compliment. I’ll take it… That’s a hard one to answer. Why am I such a crazy mom?
me: I think because I only get one go-round with you guys in your childhood. I get to see you move through these years, and the older you get the more fun we can have. It’s kind of neat. Like, when you were younger we had to do a lot more following rules so you would learn them, being more strict to keep you safe…but now that you guys are getting older you’re a lot of fun! So it’s easier for me to have fun, too. And I’ll tell ya…I’d say going down as the crazy mama sounds pretty good to me.
T-man: Nice answer.
You can check out T-man’s last interview here.