Monday, August 11, 2008

My Son, The Budding Racist

Thing 2 gave us the dinnertime rundown on his day at the local nature center's day camp. The usual -- washed a sheep, played running bases, got kicked in the 'nads.

"We were walking and one of the older boys turned around and hit me with his knee." A spasm of giggles shook his oversized, 6-year-old body. "Right in the peanuts."

This news sends a hollowness into any man's gut. It's a sympathy pain like the one you should have felt when your wife was pushing the kid out, but you were too busy gawking and thinking, "Huey Lewis! Look at that! How is THAT frickin' possible?!"

"Are you all right?"

"Yeah. I fell to the ground. It reeeeeally hurt," he said, snorting and covering his face with his grubby little man hands.

"Buddy, why are you laughing? Dad's been hit there before and it is usually NOT a laughing matter. Unless it happens to someone else, of course."

"I don't know. Heeee-heeee-heeeee."

"What happened to the boy who did it? Why did he do it?"

"I don't know. They made him take a time out."

Needless to say, the next day's pick up at camp required a more thorough debriefing before we arrived home. So when Thing 2 scampered up into the minivan, I Mike Wallaced him.

"How'd it go today, buddy? Any one pop you in the sack?"

"Nope. We picked corn from the garden. And I got to use a rake and a garbage bag to pick up horse poop. Country makes big poop. Missy's are small. She's a pony."

"You," I gasped. "You picked up horse poop?"

"Yep. I picked up sheep poop yesterday."

Hamster starts running on the wheel. Light bulb flickers on. "So, now that you are so experienced, I can have you pick up the dog's poop around the yard for me, right?"

"Daaaaaad! No! This is CAAAAAMP."

Worth a shot.

"And what has been your favorite part of camp, buddy?"

"Hmmm … Cleaning the pig's house."

Geez, I'm shelling out $325 a week ($340 if you include the camp T-shirt) so Thing 2 can to do the counselors' chores?! What the frick?! I can't get him to brush his teeth most mornings, but he's picking up sheep squirts like it was piƱata candy.

"So," I said in disbelief, "you REALLY like this camp, huh?"

"Yep. And best of all, there are no brown people."

Ow ow ow ow! My socially liberal, agnostic-fearin' heart! Someone at the hospital accidentially gave me David Duke's son!

"Uh, come again."

"Brown people smell funny."

I'm hoping he means campers like himself who come home every day covered in mud -- and now, I'm guessing, various barnyard excrements -- but I have my doubts.

"Buddy, have you gotten a whiff of yourself lately? You're not a batch of sugar cookies fresh from the oven."

"Brown people aren't very nice to me, either."

"What are you talking about? What about Quinten and Tarantino in your kindergarten class? You seemed to get along fine with them. Tarantino even came to your birthday party. He gave you the Spiderman glove thingy that shoots Silly String. You loved that."

"Well, I guess some brown people are OK. We do have one brown kid in camp."

"Does he smell?"

"Daaaaaad, it's a g-IR-LLLL."

"I sit corrected. Does she smell funny?"

His eyes roll upward in deep thought. "No. I can't smell her at all."

"Is she mean to you? Does she knee you in the peanuts? Does she?"

"No. She doesn't talk to me."

"Soooo … you admit that not all brown people …"


"And not all brown people are …"

"Mean to me?"

"Boy, that is so right. People come in all different colors, sizes and, uh, smells. Doesn't make them bad, just different. You don’t have like everyone, just be nice and try to get along. Capesh?"


Eh, close enough. Besides, I think the minivan just took out someone's mailbox.

Yeah. It's a brown one.


  1. At some point in a child's life the 'light switch' clicks on alerting them to the fact that people are different. I just wonder where the opinions about those differences come from. Hopefully, the influences will be good ones. But, we can't always be sure of that, can we?

  2. Oh, your story made me think of an unfortunate conversation I had with my youngest earlier this year. I was alone, husband was at work, and I heard the most gut wrenching scream coming from the general direction of the bathroom. My three year old came running out of the bathroom crying and shaking. Apparently, the toilet seat had just slammed on his penis (or his peanuts, as he calls it). Two days later, he zipped it in his jeans. To this day, he pees with the seat down and won't wear pants with zippers. Poor guy, traumatized for life.

  3. LOL...funny how life lessons come in all shapes and sizes..I wonder if another kid made the comment, and he just thought it sounded right...or maybe there was 1 kid who did smell "different" and now it's a general rule...Whatever, kids gonna learn one way or the other...

  4. Perhaps you need to get a dog that leaves turds the size of horse or sheep doo to interest him in helping with the cleanup?

  5. We are just getting to point where my little guy is comprehending that people are different. Can't wait for these conversations to start! As for the penis thing, at least yours wears pants. Mine just wants be nekkid from the waist down and play with his little member all day. He doesn't care what color that is!

  6. Mine doesnt even know his colors or is stubborn enough not to tell us. I have to fight the everyone is different thign everyday. There are to many people out there that just need to get over the whole color thing.
    WE call ours "dude." Little dude is always hitting big dude in the bobo's all the time. I cant help but laugh. That funny as hell to me.

  7. I went to a camp like that as a kid. And being the smart a** that I was (am) I remember actually standing in the middle of a poopie horse stall and saying the same thing to the couselors. "You mean to tell me CAMP is where I do all work for you guys on this farm? I don't work this hard at home- and there I get an allowance. Call my Dad. I am so DONE"

    And you know what? No more horse poop for the rest of the summer. And I was glad!

    way to handle the racist thing.that one is hard.

  8. LMAO - my girls would rather muck out horse stalls (for which I paid $300x2 for a week of mucking) than clean their rooms or their playroom.

    So I guess I'll have to resort to spreading manure on their toys and giving them a rake to get them to clean up.

    Hey, whatever works ...

    PS: They just corrected me - it's not a rake, it's a pitchfork. They still won't clean up.

  9. I have found that the friends they make are kind of grandfathered once they realize the color thing. They grew up with brown, dark skinned friends, but somehow differentiate those from brown, dark skinned friends they haven't met.

  10. my kids didn't mention skin color... until they started school where the unlikely outcome of teaching about different cultures makes the kids recognize skin color.

    these days, they're all about celebrating diversity:

  11. Great post...important issue to deal with, but...great post

  12. We got to meet Michael Clayton and hubs and I were so excited (he was on my fantasy football team that year) and he was doing some charity work with the cancer kids. He reached down to pick up Peyton and she did that "melty bone, sink into a puddle) thing and squirmed free.

    She ran over to me and announces "I didn't want that big brown boy to hold me."


  13. Way to go, AHAU, you managed to teach your kid a life lesson AND entertain us all at the same time. BRAVO.

  14. This is the funniest shit I've read all day. I have so many thoughts I don't know where to start. Here goes:
    First, if you are paying for your kid to shoveling animal poo, just send him to our ranch. Normally, we would pay a kid for this, but since you are generous enough for you to pay FOR your kid doing it, we'd love to have him.
    Mike Wallacing him? Seriously? How pissed are you going to be if I steal that for my everyday life.
    On a more serious note, it is expected for children to notice differences and be confused by them. Totally natural, really. However, it is not natural for adults to cultivate it into a means of oppression like what still happens in the some families. You dealt with this the best way a parent could, you talked to him without freaking out.

  15. Fotunately at least the different people kids already know personally are ok. It is the unknown that is a problem.

    Come to think of it, adults are pretty much the same a lot of the time.

    It is good your kid is learning that there is some element of sh!t in every part of life and sometimes we just have to stop and shovel it.

  16. Maybe by "brown people" he means his fellow campers (regardless of skin color) who have been working on the chain gang with him all day, shoveling poo? It's within reason to expect that such "brown people" would be smelly indeed.

    Gazangus. I can hardly wait to tell my boys how cushy their day camp is!

  17. My 5 year old daughter shocked me by saying she doesn't like "brown skin people". And this was said last year, when she was 4. Yikes!

  18. What kind of camp is this again?! Also, I will pay this boy cash money to come muck out my basement. It's full of toys, not animal waste, but I swear, it looks like a hell hole down there. Then we'll say 'peanuts' a lot, and I will laugh and laugh, and it won't be the least bit weird. No. It will be adorable!

  19. Funny ass post. First time visitor and glad I stopped by. Oh and you can call me stalker now.

  20. i go away for a while and come home to Uncool life lessons. about shit and race relations. i am never, ever leaving again.

  21. Oooh, I've had conversations similar to this with Noah. His Other dad is of the David Duke variety and sometimes there are conflicts.

    Also, if the other kid kept kneeing him in the balls, and teachers didn't see or help, what would you have him do? When words wouldn't make him stop. Would you tell to fight the kid?

  22. So there's a kid in camp named Quinton and another named Tarantino? Your boy better keep on his toes for sword play and bad 70's b-movie references.

  23. man, nice alerting your kid to reason and logic.

  24. My three year old monkey asked my native american friend "can you speak spanish?" She said "no" and he replied "yes you can, you're brown." We explained to him that not all darker skinned people are spanish. He then replied with "Can you say juanita?" I don't know where that came from... lol.

  25. I can only assume you've already written up a treatment for this, next year's hottest primetime buddy comedy.

    If not, let me know and I'm off to the bank.

    I mean, it's not a good idea and you should not want to do anything with it. Please sign here to that effect.

  26. Camp does wierd things to young minds.
    Good luck with that.

  27. Oh dear. Well handled. Now get that kid a cup.

  28. That was great dialogue. I'm taking my pointers from you.

  29. Everything poopie is fun....unless it's in your own backyard and your dad tells you to clean it up.

    My kids are now teenagers and have moved on from the "brown people" thing to letting me know EVERYthing is "gay".

    I guess it's true when my mother told me raising children takes not only patience but forty-seven rolls of duct tape, a club for their heads, steel-toed boots, and beer.

  30. Holy crap, I just can't stop laughing over here.

    Please, please tell me that you made up the Tarintino part. No one is really that mean to their kid, right? Right?

  31. Wait until some of the other prejudicial phases hit. The teen years are the worst. Just when I thought I knew what group Motley thought was cool, she was bagging on them! Luckily, at 19, I think she's got stuff kinda figured out now. *sigh*

  32. $340 a week, that is not bad. cAn't find anything for that around here.

  33. Yeah, I feel ya on the racial thing. Sent the first kid to a public school with kids from 25 different countries. Felt all Angelina Jolie-ish about the wonderful world of diversity we were providing. Wasn't possible with the second, she's been in private school for 6 years. In the third grade she leaned back into a restaurant booth, sighed loudly and said, "I am SO glad I have white skin."
    Dead silence from entire table.
    She looked around and said, "What? I like to get all brown in the summer and if I was already brown I couldn't."
    Meanwhile the oldest is now watching the Olympics with the sole purpose of finding a "hot Asian husband."
    I rock as a mom.

  34. I think all parents have an "Ohhh my God, my kids' a RACIST!" moments at one point or another. You handled it beautifully, I think. Not that you need me to validate your parenting or anything.

    Dude..I have a German Shephard and she poo's enough for my entire neighborhood. I will GLADLY let you pay me $325 to let your kid come hang out all week and clean up my dog's poo. I can call it the HMC's camp for peanut kickers.

  35. The Girl once asked me if you had to have brown skin in order to be a bus driver. I still don't think I have answered her question adequately.

  36. This was so funny! Thanks for the laugh!


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