Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Babies and Ballerinas

I've been waiting for the other shoe to drop. I knew that there would come a day when Lucy would broach the subject of race. I kept waiting for the questions and the observations to start. Then, the other day, we were buying some fabric, and there happened to be a display of baby dolls next to the cutting counter. Lucy picked up an African-American doll, and here was our conversation:

Lucy: Mommy, I know people that look like this.
Me: Yes, you do, like Zoey and Cousin Elijah, right? Isn't it wonderful that God makes people in all shapes and sizes and colors? God is so creative, isn't He?
Lucy: Yup!

The end. Very anticlimactic. 

Lucy got a painting set a couple of years ago - one of those DIY deals where you mix plaster and put it in a mold, and then paint the figurines (in this case, ballerinas) when they're dry. She's had a lot of fun with these, and we've had a set on the counter for about a week, waiting patiently to be decorated. I feel silly admitting this, but I enjoy painting them as much as Lucy does - she tends toward the abstract in her painting method, whereas I prefer a more realistic approach. Here are hers:

She's actually getting quite good at layering the paint for different effects - the more paint, the better, right? ;-) PS - I apologize for my grout - yuck!

Okay, show and tell time - here's my first ballerina, from a few weeks ago:

I know...my artistic prowess has rendered you speechless.

Anyway, I guess that conversation I had with Lucy must have still been rattling around in my brain, because this is what I came up with during this afternoon's painting session:

I had a lot of trepidation about painting a doll that did not look like me - it felt weird and somehow wrong, like I was treading on forbidden territory. I have to think more about why I felt this way...it's a loaded subject. But, I really wanted to continue that conversation with Lucy, so I took a risk. Here was what transpired:

Lucy: Mom, she needs more sparkles.

The end.

This conversation will probably replay itself many times - I'm not ready to talk to my five-year-old about Ferguson, or slavery, or all the many forms of inequality that she will encounter. Like I said, it's a loaded subject. But for now, I'd like to think that this conversation means I'm doing my job well.

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