Thursday, July 12, 2007

And I thought it was just a trip to Target

Tuesday night I had decided to get the sets of Rubbermaid drawers we were planning to use in the new apartment so I could go ahead and pack some clothes into them, then move the whole thing. L was already in bed and K asked to go with me, so we took off.

As soon as we got in the car, K started in with some hard questions. That day a friend we hadn't seen in ages had invited the girls over to her house and, at 6, K has started noticing things. Things like the fact that my friend's older daughters have darker skin than her younger children and K wanted to know why. My friend's story includes many elements of bad decisions, brave choices, an amazing turnaround, and inspiring work to help others avoid the same things, but it's not quite the thing to tell a 6-year-old. So I tried to delicately explain that the older girls have a different birth father than the younger ones, one who has darker skin, but Mr. H is adopting the older ones. K's questions led to the topics of one parent adopting the children of another, parental rights, severing or giving up parental rights, why L's parents would have given her up for adoption, why people in China need sons, L's heart condition, then back to the original question of why the girls' skin is dark, so we got into genes and how traits are passed on from parents to children. Of course, all this in terms that a 6-year-old can understand and process.

This, of course, took us the drive to Target and through most of the store. Whew! I almost kicked myself for agreeing to bring her on what should have been a quick simple errand, but it was rewarding in it's own way since I'd rather her learn this stuff from me than from the TV or her friends or just make something up in her own head. Parenting is not a job for the faint-hearted and schooling is not something that just happens between 8 and 3, August through May.

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