Okay, so we have this kid in our neighborhood. He is pretty odd at times and tends to make adults feel uncomfortable. Weird uncomfortable. He just says a ton of odd things that maybe a six year old shouldn't say, or can't understand why he would say, I don't know just weird stuff.
Like one day he was over at my house and he asked me, "Are different when I am not around?". To which I curiously reply, "No, why do you ask?". Then he proceeds to go on about how he thought that I was different than I am and just to nevermind. I wanted to know if I was different good or different bad. At least he thought I was different good, but still - weird question coming from a six year old right?
If any of you watch Desperate Housewives, remember last weeks episode about Eddie as a kid? He's weird like that. Says and does stuff like that. Only I'm not saying that he is going to turn into a serial killer or anything but this is the best example that I can think of that describes this boy's odd behavior to a tee.
Anyways, on Tuesday he called Oscar and just wanted to chat it up with him on the phone. That in itself I have always thought was a little weird. Oscar doesn't like to use the phone, most six year old boys don't, at least the ones that I know. Whatever. Because Oscar doesn't really know how to use the phone properly I always put it on speaker whenever he is talking to someone to make it easier for him. Chatting with this kid is no exception.
So the conversation starts off pretty normal, when can he play at his house again - typical stuff. Then it took an interesting turn. This boy asked Oscar where he was in our house. Oscar told him, in the kitchen. He then asked Oscar to go upstairs, to his bedroom and shut the door. He wanted to tell Oscar a secret, a secret that Oscar had to swear not to share with anyone.
Obviously, this peaked my interest. There should be no reason whatsoever in my opinion that six year olds have secrets - that I can't know about. So, naturally I followed him all ninja like so I could hear what the hell was going on in there. Keep in mind - speaker phone is still on and I can hear everything pretty well, so I intently listen to see what the big deal is. Then I hear a little something like this...
".....so, you know that they call black people (insert worst racial slur ever here) right? Yeah, did you know that, Oscar? ......black people.....(racial slur, again)..."
Upon hearing this I bust into the room! Oscar has no clue what the hell is going on. I'm not even sure if he really was even paying attention to what that kid said. He's not a very good phone listener. But my eyes are telling him that something is definitely wrong. I told him that he needed to hang up the phone, we needed to talk.
I told him what I heard, and then asked him if what I heard is what I thought I heard. I mean, I didn't want to be calling someone's mother about something like this if I was wrong. Its a hard enough conversation to have with my kid let alone another adult - especially when I am accusing their son of sharing the info in the first place.
Oscar seemed pretty confused about the whole thing. He did tell me that what I said sounded pretty much like what that kid said. I was in shock for a moment. I never thought that I would have to have this conversation with my kid at this young of an age. Thanks neighbor kid, thanks for that!
I explain that he is never, ever under any circumstances to use that word. That word is worse than any cuss word out there. It is only meant to hurt someone based on the color of their skin.
Then, this is the part that had me in tears. I never really have explained to Oscar the difference in skin color between his dad and myself. It is clear that his Dad and their family look different than me and my family but we just don't talk about it.
I told Oscar that there are bad names for every skin color out there, none of them are meant in a nice way. Its not fair to call someone a name that applies only to their skin color, its hurtful. I said, "You know that Mommy and Daddy have different colored skin right? We don't really talk about it because it doesn't mean anything to us. Skin color doesn't define you as a person. We love each other for who we are on the inside."
(just in case you don't know me and are reading this, I am white and my husband is from El Salvador)
I went on to say, "You and your brothers are special because you are half of Daddy and half of Mommy. You wouldn't want someone to call you a name just because of what you look like, you can't help it, your were born that way. We are all born one color or another and our differences is what make us unique and special"
He looked at me and quietly whispered, "I'm half brown and half white"
I told him that he was right, and that he should be proud of who he his and where he comes from. My son is a smart little dude. He knows what's up. I love that he will play with any kid. I think that most kids that are exposed to diversity, whether at home or in the classroom, don't see color. I mean, they probably see it, but don't think twice about it.
That is until somebody brings it up and points it out to them. Again, thanks weird neighbor kid!!
Anyways, now I had to call this kid's mom and tell her what happened. Not an easy task. I like his mom and all but she can be kind of abrasive. She is really funny and cool, but she and her kids have been through a lot. Exposed to more situations than most people should have to be. I knew this was gonna be tough but I felt that I had no choice, I had to tell her.
And to be honest, I was pissed. Pissed that I had to mention this whole thing, to her or to my kid. The whole thing just sucked.
I sent her a text telling her that we needed to talk about something that her kid said to my kid. I'm sure her parent "Oh shit!" alarm was going off.
She called and then I explained to her what had happened. She told me, which as I am sure any adult called in this situation would, that that type of language was not tolerated in her house and she would get to the bottom of it. Great.
Five minutes goes by and she calls me back. She goes on to explain that is kind of a funny story, but not really. I'm all ears. Seriously, I would love to hear the defense argument for this.
She then tells me that for some reason her son has been listening to the band Nickelback a lot lately. He has been asking them if the lead singer of Nickelback is a black guy. So you see.... Nickel...back.....(racial slur) and black.... That's what I must have heard.
Okay - I'm not a total idiot. Not for one second did I believe this ridiculous story. I mean, come on! Nickelback? Those are a bunch of rocker white dudes! I told her the part that doesn't really add up to me is that if he was really talking about Nickelback, why did he want it to be a secret? Why did he want Oscar to go to his room and close the door to tell him about Nickelback?
Yeah, let's just say I will be monitoring how much interaction my kid has with her kid from this point forward. I all ready thought that he said weird crap but this is unbelievable. Who knows what he would say to my kid if I'm not there!
Looking forward to awkwardness at the bus stop in the morning....ugh. Thank goodness Tammy is there so I don't have to chat it up with her by myself!