"Dad, why is my color different from my brother's?"
My first born son is a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, pale-skinned beautiful little boy. I knew the day would come when he would ask about his multiracial, darker-skinned brother wondering why they looked so different. At least I thought that day would come. So when he approached me to ask why his little brother's color was different than his, I assumed he was talking about skin color.
As a parent, I want both of my kids to be kind, open-minded and non-judgmental. We're teaching them not to discriminate against any group of people. I also don't want my kids to be color blind, as I think it's important for them to understand that people have different backgrounds and, unfortunately, often face obstacles and discrimination because of these differences.
So, there I was, ready to tell my son all about how people have different skin colors, different beliefs in God and religion, and love people in all kinds of different ways. I wanted to normalize our differences in order to make him understand that those differences are what make us unique, not inferior, and that they should be celebrated.
As I began delivering this knowledge to my son, explaining how some people have lighter skin and others have darker skin, he interrupted me. "No, no, no, Daddy. I am talking about why he has brown eyes and mine are blue. He's darker than me because he just is."
I was taken aback. The first thing my son notices, or at least pays attention to, is eye color. I asked him why he noticed that difference first among all of us. He responded, "Because that's what I look at and see first when I talk to someone. I see their eyes, Daddy. I look at their eyes."
In that moment I realized my son is smarter than me and probably most of the world. When you really look at someone for the first time, you look into their eyes. You don't see their religion, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, or anything of that nature. These differences all matter, of course; they're what makes each of us unique. Most are probably noticed, or at least assumed, within seconds of looking at someone and one day I'm sure my children will ask about them. But not today. In his mind, those things come secondary or simply do not matter to him at all.
I tucked this little memory away in my mind, ready to use when, or maybe if, he asks about those other differences that he seems to accept now rather matter-of-factly. Wouldn't it be awesome if we never had to have that conversation? If both my children just realized that all people are different and unique? And that questioning why is not only an impossible question to answer, but it's irrelevant since these differences would have no impact whatsoever in the way they'd interact with and treat others? Is this possible? I can dream. But today I don't have to worry about it. Today, my son just notices eyes.