Thursday, November 15, 2007
All Chinese people live in Chinatown.....right?
I don't always like to admit that my seven year-old teaches me important lessons on a regular basis. After all, I am the parent-shouldn't I be omnipotent?
The other day, my gal was standing with three boys watching an adult take a tennis lesson. The boys began speculating about the man's ethnicity. After testing out several theories, one boy said, "he must be Chinese." His buddy replied, "nah, it can't be all Chinese people live in Chinatown."
I was about to come unglued when my daughter calmly said, "That is not true. All Chinese people don't live in Chinatown." The other boys looked at her, like she had given them winning lottery numbers and said to their friend, "she's right, that doesn't make any sense. People can live anywhere."
We talked about the exchange in the car on the way home. Showing my anger at the entire situation, I asked her why she didn't tell the boy that his comment was just plain stupid. "Mom, calling him stupid isn't the right thing to do. Stupid is a bad word and he wouldn't listen after that."
I actually learned two important lessons from her yesterday:
1: A simple factual, calm response to ridiculous statements can be more powerful than an angry, 'in your face' response (which unfortunately is my style.
2: As much as we want to make folks understand that bias and bullying are learned behaviors, our responsibility as parents means that we have to equip our kids with the tools to handle things on their own. At the end of the day, our job is to make ourselves obsolete.
Sometimes, it takes our children to remind us and/or teach us the very lessons that we are trying to teach them.
What did you learn from your kids today?