Sunday, April 11, 2010

"We all gots belly buttons!"

I grew up in sunny California and a stone's throw away (if you had a really good arm) from Roswell, New Mexico, so I was surrounded by all sorts of people (no aliens, though...unless the overly hostile dude I met at the Rio Grande zoo was an alien...).

California is a melting pot of every possible kind of person, and I generally didn't notice any differences between me and my friends down the street. The only blaring difference between me and most of my neighborhood buddies was our differing religious affiliations (for which they never gave me crap, I am happy to say) and the fact that they had more barbies than I did.

Growing up near Los Angeles, you learned to be scared appropriately. Not senseless fear, but reasonable fear of the scaries who frequent the streets of downtown L.A. Same thing with New Mexico. Downtown ABQ was a scary place. Best to look at the ground, and duck at appropriate times, unless you want to get caught in the crossfire of a gang war.

Then, all of the sudden, I was thrust into Happy Valley. It was very odd at first. No longer was I a minority in religion (or race). And it has had some less than desirable side-effects. Utah should be renamed "The Great and Spacious Bubble."

As a consequence of Utah being what it is, my kids have had little experience with anything other than people like their pasty-white parents.
A few of you who were there may remember Eva's first reaction to meeting her uncles, Andy and Victor. Her hasty retreat under our car was amusing but slightly embarrassing (of course, it could have been Victor's sheer size that set my little lady a-runnin'). Her uncles took it in stride, and with humor, fortunately. Children see nothing wrong with displaying fear...and are never afraid of speaking their thoughts.

As we sat in church today, a member of our ward from Haiti was sitting just across from us. Joshua leaned over to me and asked (in a whisper, thankfully), "Who is that man?? Is his name Brownie? Mr. Brownie. Hee hee!"

Oh dear. I suppose I should have turned it into a teaching moment, but, alas, I failed in my duty as a mother in favor of writing what Joshua said down on a piece of paper and handing it to Jeremy.

I have often told Jeremy we should spend a year in Africa, ideas of possibly teaching and building schools popping into my mind, making our kids eat stuff other than Little Caesar's pizza, and surrounding them with God's other children who are of a different hue.

One of my favorite comic strips addressed this very issue, and tried to not focus on differences but similarities. The conclusion? "We all gots belly buttons!"

Too true!


Katscratchme said...

And we all gots a Mom...

Trillium said...

And we gots a lot of growin' to do.

Enjoying Life . . . One day at a time! said...

So true - I had a lot of different experiences because of growing up outside UT and usually being the only member of the church at my school (and neighborhood really). It was amazing when I moved to NM and actually associated with other LDS kids. Then I lived in UT for 5 years and became used to "the bubble" - that's when I told Brandon it was time to get out. I needed to move. The only time he lived outside UT was his mission, but he was happy to go. It was an adjustment when we moved up here - like seeing wine everywhere, and everyone obsessing over coffee. But after the initial shock, it's been great! And still we are only 10 minutes from the temple!

Rebecca said...

very cute! Your children are funny.

Our experience here in California has taught our children acceptace at a very young age. Their circle of friends come different religions and races.

Tina said...

My sister said the first time her son saw a black man in the grocery store he said, "Look Mom, there's Michael Jordan!!"
She was very embarrassed and the man just smiled. (I'm sure he was honored)

We've had some great experiences here with other cultures; Tongan, Mexican, Black, Hispanic, you name it. It's been good for the kids.

Jen said...

It was Joshua who crawled underneath the car. . .

humvi: the car Joshua crawled under.

shydandelion said...

Was it?? Man, I've got a bad memory. And it doesn't help that Josh and Eva are clones of each other.

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