This question came from our new housekeeper. “Why is he so white?” That was posed to me by a coworker. “Can you believe this is his baby?” That beauty was uttered by a family member as she presented my son to her friend. This in small part has been my fatherhood experience. I’ve tried my very best not to let statements such as these bother me but how do you react when someone asks whether or not your son is yours? Or whether or not your wife is white? As if it matters. Or as if it is even a possibility that she couldn’t be. Look at the boy! As frustrating as it can be to navigate through these conversations I must remember to focus on the important things. The things I need to learn immediately to raise and protect my very awesome and pale child. Two things in particular stand out to me.
Sunscreen. I know nothing about sunscreen. What isle is it on at Walgreen’s? What’s the better brand, Copperstone or Banana Boat? What does SPF stand for? MM has continued our vegetarian cloth diapering hippie style child raising way by buying him vegan sunscreen. Seriously. It’s fragrance free, vegan, contains no gluten, soy, oat or dairy. Is that stuff usually in there?!? Sunscreen sounds delicious. It also does not contain any harmful chemicals as defined by the EWG. MM is smart and does her research so I’ll have to trust that this is good stuff. It better be for the ransom they charge. That 6 ounce bottle of sunshine repellent cost about as much money as it takes to run this blog. It’s so rich that when I put it on him he resembles a wet powdered donut. I’m probably putting too much on him but I can’t help it. I’m paranoid. I’ve never had to think about skin damage from the hot sun. As I discover more information I’m learning that I should be more mindful of it. According to the Skin Cancer foundation, in African American skin, melanin, provides a sun protection factor equivalent to 13.4 compared to 3.4 in white skin. 3.4? That’s almost nothing at all. Needless to say I worry about the sun damage to his skin far more than I’ve ever worried about mine.
Another big difference between he and I is our hair.
Look at it. It’s like a second child. Totally wild and independent of the kid it rides on. When he was born it was long and flat. Easy to manage. As he has gotten older, long thick looping curls have emerged. His hair is starting to become the perfect blend of me and his mother’s hair. But now what? I’ve never had hair like his. I don’t know what to do. I’ve never had to deal with curls this long. Mine are nice and tight. Wavy on a good day. My hair does what it’s told. When I get a haircut my hair will obey me for at least 5 or 6 days with minimal maintenance. His hair is different every morning. It tangles and snags on the teeth of the comb. There’s a section in the back that refuses to lay down. Then there’s the issue of getting it cut. Where do I take him? We can’t go to my barber. My barber is highly skilled and trained in all the latest styles and techniques of fine Black male grooming. He is an artist. When Saturday rolls around he becomes Michelangelo and my head the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. But that’s my hair. What about Donny? Has my barber ever cut a loose curled brunette like my son. It might be equivalent to asking Larry the cable guy to read Tagalog. And don’t even get me started on style. When I was a kid I rocked a hightop fade. I couldn’t possibly shame him like that. Not in 2014.
Sunscreen, hair, Black G.I. Joe vs. White ones. Very small and insignificant things to figure out. To be honest I’m not that worried about it. What I really think about are the questions he will undoubtedly begin to ask. Questions about his own identity. “Why is Mommy white? Why is Daddy Black? Why are you `different`? What am I?” The truth is he’s neither. He’s human. He’s an individual. The only one of his kind. He’s a being with a brain, a heart, and emotions. Capable of deciding to be whatever or whoever he wants to be. The world will always try to categorize him and file him as a certain “type.” For no other reason than, that’s the way it’s always been. I always hoped that it would be my generation who would change that. However, some days I feel we have moved backwards. Perhaps his generation will finally be the one to remove all the labels and skin color bull– and see each other as what we truly are. People. All struggling and fighting to attain the same thing, happiness. If he must be labeled in some way that the world will understand then like his mother and father he is an American. In nationality and ethnicity. “Mixed” is the way you describe a cake. Not a beautiful baby boy with all the potential in the world.
- Thing I learned today – Did you see it up there?!? Sun Protection Factor. SPF!
- Sports Minute – FOOTBALL SEASON IS ALMOST HERE. I know its fake football but I still love the preseason. So much hope and enthusiasm. When you’re a Raiders fan hope is all you got. Time to get Donny a new set of Raiders pajamas.
Thank you very much for stopping by. This is the fifth edition of Daddy Day By Day. Already working on the next one; Donny’s first bully experience. If you have any questions, rants, feelings, anything positive, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or simply comment below. And please follow my blog. I’d really appreciate it. Talk to you soon…