We only needed a few things from the grocery store, so I took the three kids by myself right after breakfast. It was still early in the day when we arrived, but it was raining.
I carried the babies through the parking lot while “M” ran behind me. As we tried to get inside as quickly as possible, I kept reminding her, “Stay close. Don’t jump in the puddles. Keep up.”
My sneakers were already soaked by the time I looked down and saw that we were standing in two inches of water. One huge puddle blocked the entrance! It could not be avoided. We trudged through it for about 15 feet before “M” stopped in the middle of the busy parking lot. “Mom! I am wet!” she cried.
“I know, sis. Keep moving. It’s okay,” I replied as I glanced over my shoulder. The babies were starting to slip and my glasses were covered with rain drops.
“I am WET. Why are we walking through the RIVER?!!” She remained motionless in the puddle.
“M, let’s go. You cannot stop here,” I said in a firmer voice. She whimpered as she moved toward me.
We made it inside Kroger, and I began loading the kids in a cart. I was beginning to doubt the urgency of the trip. “M” kept repeating “I’m wet” as if she were processing trauma. I continued to rearrange the children until everyone fit–the youngest baby was in a carseat (baby carrier) in the front of the cart while the two older kids sat in the basket area. An elderly woman walked by and asked, “How will you have room for groceries?” I smiled.
We rolled into the produce section, picked out bananas and strawberries before moving on to collect cans of baby formula. Everything was going well, despite my soggy socks and M’s blank stare of disbelief that her pants were wet up to her knees.
We grabbed milk and then checked out. On the way back to our car, “M” remained quiet. She began talking when I put her in the car, “It’s cold. And I’m wet, Mom!” She was wearing rain boots but somehow her socks were drenched too.
I kept laughing at myself on the ride home. The previous fifteen minutes were quite an experience. I didn’t see it coming, but I should have. It had been raining for 24 hours straight. Going anywhere alone with three small kids is a juggling act — I’m used to that, I guess. But adding bad weather to the mix is an equation for real… fun.
Often in life, we look down (or up) and find ourselves in a mess. It was unavoidable, but, nevertheless, we would have appreciated a warning.
As a transracial adoptive family, I realize that there are conversations that I MUST to have with my Black daughter. I am starting to recognize white privilege and how it is so much a part of my life that I never saw it. Moreover, I know that she is given certain protections while she’s in my home because I am White. But – even then – she will experience ignorance and hatred because of her skin tone.
An adult adoptee recently encouraged all White adoptive parents to talk with their children about racism. He essentially said: To not talk to your child about racism is like not telling them how to safely cross the street. It wouldn’t protect them from the real dangers. When they face racial aggression (not if, when) and they are unprepared, it will be emotionally devastating. Your child of color needs tools to prepare them for the inevitable experiences of racism.
His comments were based on personal experience.
Then, I was reminded that this morning I had instructed “M” to put on rain boots, yet it didn’t prevent her from getting wet. She was prepared but not completely covered.
It’s a silly illustration for a very real problem. I was thankful for the reminder.
Compassion. Empathy. Preparation.
“M” is still a preschooler, but we talk about hard issues now. She listens but does not get it. I know one day I will be the one listening without the ability to fully relate. So we are praying about how to best prepare her for life. We are praying for Christian men and women of color who can be role models and friends with our family. It is best for our whole family.
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Elaine and her husband, Joey, are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home in Ohio.