Monday, January 18, 2010

Let Freedom Ring!

I had a great day with all my kiddos at home due to the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. I think my girls feel a bit left out when they hear of the fun the boys have while they are at school so we took full advantage of this time with everyone home. It's neat to hear four kids of varied ages and both genders playing together. (The pic above was from Saturday night as we celebrated some birthdays at our house with extended family. The pic below was today at the playground.)

Like probably many of you, when I think about Martin Luther King, Jr., I think about his "I Have a Dream" speech. I remember how moved I was the first time I heard it (I was probably about 8 or 9). It wasn't just the poetry of what he said, but the passion in which he said it. Although I can't possibly understand the pain from the past and hope for the future that inspired his words, his eloquence helps me understand how far we've come in recognizing that all men are created equal.

My favorite line is: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." Now that I have a child perfectly pigmented with a dash of cocoa (and would love to have a rainbow of sweet faces around my dinner table one day), I am even more grateful that this dream is in many ways a reality.

Our family is fortunate to live in a culturally diverse community. And our church and school have many families with adopted children from all over the world. So having a son who tans better than the rest of his family is not a big deal. But I'm starting to realize that sometimes the world is not color blind.

Nothing offensive has been said, but we do get stares on occasion when people see our family and do a mental "one of these things is not like the other." (It actually seemed to be more of an issue when we were living in Guatemala.) I really don't think it has anything to do with race, it's just that people are curious and want to know what the story is. The issue is not the color of my skin or his, just that ours don't match. If only I looked like Eva Longoria, life would be easier. (In many ways.) Fortunately Daniel seems oblivious that mama is "melanin challenged."

But I am overly sensitive to curious looks and am vigilant in preventing ignorant comments. We were at the grocery store the other day and got a few stares. (Although I'm sure we were a sight to behold with two boys in a buggy shaped like a race car with full sound effects being added by the under-aged drivers.) When we'd get a lingering look, I'd say something in a loud voice along the lines of, "Daniel, you pick out the bananas and YOUR BROTHER can pick out the grapes." Or, "Brady, ask YOUR BROTHER if he would like a cookie."

We had made it to the check out without incident. And then . . . the lady at the register said, "Oh, this must be a playdate because obviously. . . ." I cut her off like a body part with gangrene and gave her a look that said, "If you finish that sentence, I will scan my Kroger Plus card across your forehead and take my business to Publix where shopping is a pleasure." Then I simply responded with, "It's better than a playdate. It's two brothers who have fun wherever they go." I was grateful that Daniel completely missed the exchange as he and HIS BROTHER were giggling and shooting eachother with bananas.

I have many dreams for my children--but my list of dreams for Daniel is a bit longer. I want him to know he is loved as much as his siblings. I want him to forget the years of abuse and abandonment and remember only the years that he was loved and cherished. I want this special boy to enjoy "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" to its fullest.

And as I watched him today in the playroom and at the playground, his face seemed to announce in MLK, Jr. style, "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, I am free at last."

Let Freedom Ring!


Ginny said...

I admit, I just skimmed your post because I'm in a rush. I want to say that I know myself, I will notice when 1 or more children don't look like the parents. For me personally, it has nothing to do with race. Like you mentioned, I wonder the story.

I hold adoptive parents, foster parents & family members that take on a niece/nephew, etc with such a high regard. I almost just want to comment & tell them that.

I found your blog on Mommy Bloggers Club by the way. Glad I came across you, you put a smile on my face today!

Teri said...

THANK YOU!!! Preach it sister! I feel ya!!! =) Although Hannah is not officially our child she is in our hearts and she is in our house about half of each week. Plus often some or all of her siblings. When Sam and I have them in the store with us we have 4 brown kids and one white and OH THE STARES WE GET!! I have had moments where I just want to get on the speaker and announce to the whole store that it is none of their business and to stop staring at us like we are aliens!! =)
Great post! I love the pic of Daniel singing, so cute!!

sierrasmom said...

Wpost!!!I always cry when I hear that part of MLK Jr's speech and you are right, now it really hits home!!