This morning, having woken up on the Generous side of bed, decided to do something fun with the kids instead of dragging them to Home Depot for the forty-third time. So we went to a little beach park about 10 minutes away. I'd heard about it, but never been there before and it was PERFECT. The perfect amount of grass and sand and calm lake water, no having to drag all your stuff across an acre of sand like at the real beach, and I had kids old enough to entertain themselves in the water and dig in the sand. It was about fifty thousand times better than the wading pool. Never again, wading pool! Even Jack agreed with me.
So I could tell you all about what a lovely morning we had and how totally exhausted I was when we came home, but instead I am going to tell you that every single person at this beach park was either a white 30-something mom or a white preschooler. If you had been listening in on the conversations (which OF COURSE I was doing) you would know that the big issues of the day were Montessori waiting lists, kindergarten teachers, and mothers-in-law who do not mind their own business. The kids had names like Ava and Lucas and were loaded down with sunscreen and toys and floaties and many of them had obviously had swim lessons and it was all very Young-Ish Mom In The City.
I didn't have to notice this, right? I AM one of these moms. My kids weren't quite as white as these, but my Asian-American husband didn't make me any different from these women. I am just like them and I had the privilege of not noticing this at all.
But I did... I don't know if it matters. One thing I've noticed about our new neighborhood is that it has a large population of North African immigrants. There was one time we went to the neighborhood playground and it was packed, but I was the only white person there. (Not counting my kids, though I assume they will identify as Asian-American when they're old enough to identify as anything. Or maybe not. I have no idea.) One thing that is REALLY drawing me to the church and church school near my house is the diversity and the fact that many of the students speak a different language at home. (Other than that, I am MEH on the whole switching churches thing - that's another post.) Our rental house was in a trendy affluent neighborhood. Our new neighborhood feels shabbier, not as well off, more overgrown. And as much as I loved (LOVED) our old neighborhood and would have loved (LOVED) for my kids to attend the excellent schools there, I can also appreciate where we are, the people we run into, the faces we see at our new playground. I want my kids to be part of this.
One beef I had against Catholic school (before I started investigating the local Catholic school options and therefore had no idea what I was really talking about) was the idea that it might be loaded with rich white kids who could afford it. I wasn't sure if I wanted them to be in that environment. I couldn't really explain WHY, but something about it just didn't feel REAL. I grew up on military bases and there are ALL KINDS of people living on military bases. I never ever thought about diversity or race or anything like that. Even though I hung out with almost exclusively Filipino kids - and talking to them a few years past graduation they confessed they never thought about it either.
But I remember walking onto the UW campus at age 18 and being floored - seriously - by how WHITE everything was. (And how many Asian people there were, to be honest.) It was so different than where I came from. It was STRANGE. I got used to it (and it was easy for me, being white!) but now, having kids, I'm aware of it again. And my kids... well, I hesitate to say what they'll think or how things will be when they grow up, but I'm assuming they won't have my "advantage" of not noticing. I want them to be around differences as much as samenesses.
I am making a huge deal out of going to the beach, huh? I didn't have a friend along to distract me, so this is what you get. Overwrought melodramatic discussion over a trip to the beach. This is why I blog! Anyway, I want to be sure you know I am not, like, JUDGING the beach moms or anything (except for the one who named her child Diego), especially as I am ONE OF THEM, but we're part of a pretty privileged group, I think. It's not wrong to acknowledge that.
Do you guys do this? Sit around and see what kind of people are doing what you're doing? Who they are, where they come from, what the stories are? I suppose I need a little more in my life than paint and pregnancy, eh?