Monday, February 21, 2011

How'd you react?

There are situations when you just can't decide at that moment what/how to react but, later on reflecting on it, you just don't like the fact that you did not react at all. But in this particular case, I am still unsure how I should have reacted.

Last weekend, my son was playing with his usual group of friends, just some of the kids from the neighborhood. One of the kids, A, in this group is the 5 year grandson of our next door neighbors. They are an elderly couple and the kid A is their only grandson. His dad died very young, so they are extremely fond and protective of A. I hate to say it, but this pampering does show as some spoiled kid behavior on A.

On that particular day, the kids first rode their bikes and then one of the kids brought out his brand new scooter to play with. All the kids were taking turns on that. When it came Aayush's turn, kid A just refused to let him have his turn. Aayush asked him politely twice and then looked at me. 

I went and asked A what the matter was and why would he not let Aayush have his turn. And this is what he told me: "Only those who have white skin can have the turn on the scooter. Not Aayush"

And then he took the scooter and went away from there. 
I was amazed and dumb at his response. Just couldn't decide how to react.
Should I go inside and talk to his grand parents?
Should I call the kid back here and have a straight talk to him?

I live in an all-white community
I work in an almost all-white work environment
My son goes to a school where about 95% os the kids are white.
So I am aware of the cultural differences.
But some one pointing out the difference based on skin color: this had happened first time on my face.
Luckily, Aayush did not understand the entire issue. He just thought that A said that whoever does not have any white clothes on, doesn't get a chance on the scooter. And he's still upset about that.

I have been thinking and thinking about this incident over and over in head.
And I know it is the time to start this conversation with my kid now
Teaching him that there will be moment and people and remarks like these
But he should never be tongue tied to voice his dislike about it.
And before I do that, I want to take him to A's grand parents place with me and have a direct talk about what happened and what shouldn't have.

What's your take? What would you do?How would you react?
Do you suggest me doing anything differently?
Would love to know.

Edited to add: I did go and talk to A's grandmother and explained the entire incident to her. Even she was quite surprised to hear this and promised to talk to A about it.


Anonymous said...

Oh that sounds awful. It certainly makes us feel bad, when KIDS do this. I mean, I can understand adults behaving this way, but kids are innocent, so if they say the same thing, that means they are learning this behaviour from someone/somewhere. There certainly are cultural differences and I've seen racism too, but to see children behave this way is very disturbing.

As for how I would react, I think I will just ignore the child, and talk to the grandparents instead. Very tough situation, though common, when we are in that spot, it does get very very difficult.

sm said...

"Only those who have white skin can have the turn on the scooter. Not Aayush"

yes you have to think about it.
tell him and prepare your kids for this.
if you got the good relations with grandparents tell them, if you got community paper or blog encourage people to speak on subject racism avoiding this kids play.
Kids are funny they fight and forget but we keep thinking.

Shilpa Garg said...

OMG!! That's an awkward situation! I guess, you must talk to the child's grandparents and Aayush is too young to understand this!

Raam Pyari said...

hmmm....this is bad. Your son cannot be made to feel any less for his skin color. And kids can be really mean. I would def have a talk with the grand parents....a sensible smiling conversation that conveys the message....

Smita said...

I think you shud talk to A's Grand Parents! There is a possibilty that they might not find anything wrong in his behavior but it always makes sense to tell such people that they are teaching wrong things to their kids!

And though I feel u shud tell ur son about what he might face but then when I think that in a way we are putting things in a innocent mind then I feel u shudn't. There is no easy way here! Just do what ur gut feeling says!

Dil se said...

@All: yes, I finally went and had a detailed conversation with her grand mother. She did say she was going to have a conversation with A and make sure this does not gets repeated. As for the kids, they are back to normal, playing again, as if nothing happened !!