Explaining Diversity to Kids

I hate to think my boys are the only kids that ask cringe-worthy questions, and in public places too.

You know questions that make you feel like O.M.G…not so loud…and not here!

You ever been there?

Kids tend to exhibit their curious state anywhere and everywhere and God help you if you are close by without a ready answer, carefully thought out or not.

As parents, we may sometimes need/want to ‘save face’ and end up sacrificing having to rightly address their curiosity on the altar of embarrassment, particularly in public places and when the tide isn’t exactly favorable.

The ‘different’ questions come often and if you are like me, you may have slammed the lid on their curiosity about differences and diversity by hushing them or at best telling them we are all the same, without elaborating further.

Kids are really just mini-adults with super sharp minds…more observant and detailed than adults, …and very quick to pick out (and voice out) differences all around them.

Differences in their school bags, differences in their lunch packs, differences in shoes, differences in facial expressions, differences in appearance, differences everywhere.

Differences in color. How red differs from blue…yellow from green…black from white.

I wonder about colors…so do they.

They ask questions about colors and things they see or imagine.

D1 asks about a million questions per day. Okay, I exaggerate a little…nope, much…but he has a very inquisitive mind.

Why is that man walking with a stick?
Why is that woman sitting on the wheel chair?
Is her leg paining her?

Why is D2’s tummy bigger than my own?
Are you thinking about your mother that died when her car somersaulted? (Out of the blues when I’m pensive)

Why do cats like fish? Why do the mouse like cheese?
Lion and tiger, are they the same?
Why is the lion called the king of the jungle?
The lion and tiger, which one is stronger?
Can a lion kill an elephant? 

Why can’t God make cats like cheese and mouse like fish?
Are the Chibok girls not children of God?
Why do God allow people to die?

Why is it dark?
Why….
Why is it white?
Why is he white?

Like he asked out loud at the Supermarket when we stopped by to pick up groceries on our way from school yesterday evening.

“Mummy, that man is really white…is he a foreigner?” (He’s currently having mid-term tests in school and the topic of ‘foreigners’ came up during Social Studies revision time)

And like the typical mum…hush…hush…shhhh

That’s rude.
Or just plain curiosity.

We I tend to cloud their unassuming and harmless observations and questions with our my ‘superior’ judgement..sometimes.

I looked at ‘me’ and I looked at him…and at the ‘foreigner’ who thankfully was not paying attention to the little 6year old and his silly mum.

Would I allow him bear the weight of ‘shhhhed’ unanswered questions just to avoid ’embarrassment’?
Would I allow him form his own opinions without guidance?
What’s a parent to do…every time?

Worse still…would I rather these boys move away from anyone perceived to be different from them?

Different in appearance, skin color…religion…opinions…etc?

I think of the men I want these boys to grow into…men that hold the hand of the lonely…men that speak out against ills…men that wouldn’t allow color color their perceptions (pun intended)…men that positively impact their generation…men that embraces all regardless of religious inclinations or social standing…regardless of color of skin or hair…regardless of physical differences …regardless of educational differences and I think of the mother I need to be…

…a mother that patiently encourages questions and stimulates their inquisitive hearts by answering all questions as truthfully as she could. (hand on chest…God help me)

If your child has questions about diversity / differences in physical characteristics or cultural practices, discuss them openly. This teaches your child that it’s okay to notice differences, and more importantly, it teaches him that it’s good to talk about them. Learning to appreciate all kinds of differences—not just racial and cultural but differences in socioeconomic levels, gender, and even disabilities is an important skill in today’s diverse society. – See more at: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/parenting/school-age/10-ways-to-teach-kids-about-diversity#sthash.Yp9gcN4T.dpuf

…a mother who encourages questions about physical or cultural differences and openly discusses them.
…a mother who teaches her kids it’s okay to observe differences and loudly or quietly ask about them.
…a mother who teaches her children to appreciate all kinds of differences -be it cultural, racial, educational, gender, social, economic and even disabilities.

“mummy, I.B too is white in my class”
“I.B is not white, just lighter than you in complexion” 
“Ok”.
“Does he eat in class like you?”
“Yes, mum”
“He’s your friend, isn’t he?”
“Yes”.

“See, I.B is not really different…he does everything you do”.

“See…that man too is buying bread and we are also here to buy Semolina (and beverages)” (Of course, delivered ‘hush-hushly’)

“So he goes hungry and eats like us”

Although we look different, we are really all the same, my boy…created by the same God.
We are all the same…yet different, with or without the same skin color….with the same color of blood flowing in us.

He’s white, we are darker.
We are different yet the same…same on the inside, driven by the same hunger – goals and aspirations.
We can join hands and dance the ‘victors’ dance and sing…’cos we have the same features, same capabilities…

Different does not equate ugly…different does not equate bad.
Same is good…different is great.

So our dear ‘different’ friends, be kind enough not to cringe when a certain 6year old wonders aloud and also please permit his silly mum ramble through the truth of our diversity.

(Definitely going to use the eggs to drive it home further…in the morning)


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