Skin is not a color it’s an organ

As we approach Ayzia’s 6th birthday, I’m reflecting on the past year. Soon after she turned five the shift in development was evident and I struggled with it.  She wanted to do more and whether she could or not, I was reluctant.  Why was I reluctant? Maybe I was used to doing mostly everything for her, or by nature I just like to have control of things. The thing I’ve learned, it’s important to use her help and more times than not, it makes my job easier.

What I wasn’t ready to deal with was all the new emotional, politcally correct terminology that needs to be taught. It started when she entered Kindergarten.  She comes home from school describing her friends mostly by their hair; the boy with black hair, the boy with curly hair, the girl with hair like Brave.  But the types of description I struggle with are the ones like; the boy with a big belly and the Chinese girl. Is this appropriate or not? I don’t know. I try to encourage her to get their names, and eventually she does.

Some of my failed attempts to teach proper descriptions were that of the; don’t judge a book by its cover, but I ended muddled up in my own words. How can I expect a 5 year old to get that analogy when I myself don’t entirely understand it?   But now looking back, this concept refers to judging, not describing. She wasn’t placing a judgment on them. The world may interpret her pure form of description as something as a judgment. So I feel the need to teach her how to use proper words that will easily be decoded by outsiders. But it gets tricky.  What makes one description better than the other and why? Who says it’s true? Example; when people ask me which one is Ayzia and which one is Eden. In public I don’t refer Ayzia as the girl with glasses, or Eden with the short legs and bubble-bum. I find these endearing, but if I heard someone else saying them, it would very much bother me.

Recently our girls were coloring a picture.  They were fighting over the peach color. One girl kept referring it to the ‘skin color’. I thought my first attempt went well. Skin is an organ that covers our bodies, it isn’t one particular color. Apparently they didn’t get it because when they were back to fighting over this same color, the same child again referred to it as ‘skin color’. She wasn’t doing anything wrong, her intent was clean. Maybe it was because they were arguing, but the ‘skin color’ got under my own skin. As an adult I know what this could imply to be, that skin should be peach color. So I went off on a teaching rant about how skin is an organ, showed them that the crayon they were fighting over was in fact called Peach. Skin can come in cream, black, and brown and in various shades from light to dark. It can have hints of red or yellow.  After my rant, Jake asked rhetorically, “How do you really feel about it?” I thought to myself, well if I wondered how I should teach my kids about the different colors of skin, guess this was how.

What does it matter any way, what type of skin color one has or their ethnicity? Well I’ll tell you. When you are drawing a portrait of someone, it matters.  Ayzia is constantly drawing people and I hope she develops this talent to her highest level of ability. She just drew a picture of her Nana and I was impressed she got her red hair color right. It took effort I could tell. So maybe I let her get by with the ‘big belly’ but instruct to stay away from the intolerable word ‘fat’


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