I met my best friend Ashley the summer between Freshman and Sophomore year in high school. We were a couple weeks into driver’s education class and had never spoken a word to each other. I had however had a couple of conversations and laughs with her boyfriend, unbeknownst to me.
The time had come for us to put down our driver’s manual that was chalk full of road signs I’d never encountered and get behind the wheel of an actual moving vehicle. More than half of all motor vehicle deaths occur among young adults, but this was a rite of passage. The moment we had been waiting for was here!
Rites of Passage
The instructor hung a sign-up sheet on the wall and announced a twist if there was a conflict over a time slot the person who was older could bump the other student from their selected time slot. Little did I know, Ashley wasn’t fond of my chit-chats with her main squeeze, and Ashley wanted my behind the wheel timeslot, Sorry! Come to find out me and Ashley’s birthday was only a day apart. Once we found that commonality all transgressions were forgiven. We’ve shared a solid friendship ever since.
Ashley happens to be bi-racial, a businesswoman and an advocate for healthy living. A role model for my daughters. This spring I decided to take my two daughters Misha and Giana for a trip with just mommy to visit Ashley and her daughter Hayden in Philadelphia. We affectionately referred to the trip as our “girl’s trip”. I prepped the girls with expectations about wait time, lines and proper etiquette in the different settings we would encounter on our vacation. Not only at the airport, on the airplane but also as guests in my friend’s home.
To my delight they didn’t gang up on me, they pulled their own weight in the form of very cute light up suitcases on wheels. They were polite and said thank you to the attendants at every counter we stopped at for snacks, tickets and reading materials. My bag of tricks with various activities from games, to books, to small figurines, kept them occupied. There was no kicking of the seat in front of us, or inappropriate volume when talking and I even got to read a couple pages of my book “We’re going to need more wine” by Gabrielle Union.
I’m thinking to myself, this is good. We are killing this girl’s trip! This is great material for the blog “how to prepare your child for a travel day” or “five ways to make sure your solo trip with the kids goes smooth”. Thank god they aren’t acting a fool.
And then it happened. We were de-boarding the plane and the flight attendant leaned over and asked: “are those your kids?” What was ironic was I’d just been featured as a guest blogger on a site titled that. “Are those your kids?” This mom blogger of biracial children had been asked the question so many times she named her entire blog after it, but it had never actually happened to me. Considering they had behaved so well on the flight, I decided to claim them. She went on to compliment them on their behavior and evaluated the look on my face giving me a compliment as well. “You could be their sister.” I’m thinking, yeah or the nanny.
Dark skin mom raising light skin girls
Was it my dark skin tone that had thrown her off? Was it hard to believe that I could have produced them? Should I be offended? What was the likelihood of a white mother traveling with her white children being asked the same question? What did my girls think of this inquiry? Intuitively, I knew she meant no harm and was blatantly curious. Inevitably she gave me the caption for my Instagram airport pic- Seriously? who the hell would sign up to fly with two kids that don’t belong to them?
For parents of biracial children or mothers raising children in a multiracial family, this is our reality. We have to find appropriate ways to explain our family dynamics in an age-appropriate way. We have to deal with stares, unsolicited commentary and be armed with explanations to ensure our children have positive self-love. If your looking for the verbiage to use in these situations read our post 5 books to teach self-love to biracial children.