Ever had one of those weeks when your brain’s all jumbled? When thoughts are bouncing around like a box of ping pong balls dropped down a flight of stairs? Yeah, it’s been like that around here. For me, anyway.
Which makes writing for Fridays a little difficult since, by their nature, Forever Family posts require focus. After two failed attempts I’ve realized I’m trying to shove a square peg in a round hole, and I’ve given that up for Lent.
Foster parents are made of strong stuff.
They find it within themselves to open their hearts and homes to children in need, offering a stable life to young people struggling to find their way.
They work to maintain relationships between children and their biological families, often while those families are working through their own issues. They take charge over souls who have experienced unspeakable trauma and walk with them through the fire of recovery.
And they love these kids deeply, unconditionally, despite the fact that they might only be in their lives for a short while.
There’s nothing like some good conversation over hot fudge sundaes to make my week.
Lately I’ve been thinking about my younger days.
See that sweet face? (Yeah, BrightSide, too.) How innocent, how naive…ready to go along to get along, keep the peace, calm the waters no matter what.
Well, lately I’ve been thinking about what I’d tell that 20-something me.
Bear and I used to read The Colors of Us by Karen Katz together. She’d ask to hear it almost every day.
“My name is Lena, and I am seven.
I am the color of cinnamon.
Mom says she could eat me up.”
Lena wanted to paint a picture of herself, but her mom pointed out that brown isn’t merely brown. Bear would ooh and aah as she turned the pages, absorbing the medley of shades in Lena’s neighborhood.
The children’s picture book took a simple approach, describing each character’s skin tone as something the main character understood…french toast, honey, butterscotch, peanut butter, chocolate cupcakes, nutmeg. Bear would point excitedly at a page and name someone she knew who looked like that. She never tired of naming which skin tone was hers, and it was her favorite game to match people we knew to characters in the book.
The book’s message is clear: brown is not simply brown. Brown is a palette. Brown is beautiful in a hundred ways.
It’s been years since I watched Whoopi Goldberg’s “long blond hair” segment in her stand up routine, but it’s something I’ve never forgotten. Whoopi plays a young black girl who dreams of being white. She drapes an old white skirt over her head, smoothing it as if stroking her luxurious hair. The character wistfully hopes to become white with long, blond hair so she can appear on The Love Boat.
The implications are clear: beauty is measured by a white world’s standards, and those standards are what you aspire to if you want the American Dream.
While we talk a good game about diversity in American culture – models of all shapes, sizes, and colors; movie roles for minorities; increased visibility for people of color on television – you can’t expect the tide to recede just like that. It took a long time to shape our culture, and it won’t change back overnight.
Writing a stream of consciousness birthday post was so much fun I thought we’d roll with it for Forever Family. (I first stumbled across this concept over at The Captain’s Speech. Paul’s sharp wit keeps me in giggles – you should check out his blog.)
So buckle up and let’s go.
Celebrations are powerful, especially for children. They don’t understand I’m not really up for Christmas this year or let’s just let this birthday pass quietly. They understand the inherent joy in special days, and they’re drawn to reveling in them. They’re children, after all, even after they’ve morphed into bigger bodies, and if we’re lucky they haven’t lost the magic in marking milestones with joy.
Which has made this past year somewhat difficult for me.