I fully understand that we cannot completely insulate our children from bullies. Is it a perk of homeschooling that they aren’t tossed into the fray all-day-every-day? Of course. But it would be naive to think that young kids, especially an interracial sibling set, wouldn’t run into some kind of hatred at some point.
And “at some point” happened last Friday.
Fernando took the kids to the park to give me some photo editing time (bless that sweet, sweet man) and they chose a park a little farther from home to change it up a bit.
A nearby school had just let out, flooding this particular park with unsupervised elementary aged kids, all matching in both their identical school uniforms and in their pale complexion.
Fernando told me how it all went down, and how he heard every word. Daniel and Violet were on their way up to the top level of this play structure to go down a big slide, but a group of 6 or 7 older kids stood at the top of the ladder, one boy blocking the way.
Daniel: “Excuse me, please.”
Boy: “You can’t come up.”
Boy: “You just can’t come up.”
Daniel: “My sister and I want to go down the slide, so excuse me.”
Daniel just started climbing anyway. “My sister and I are going down the slide.” Boy moved reluctantly. Yay for Daniel’s big muscles.
Daniel: “Come on Violet, let’s go.” Daniel grabs Violet’s hand.
Boy: “What, do you like her or something?!”
Daniel ignored him, moving Violet closer to the slide.
Girl #1: “Hey boy, do you like her or something?”
Girl #2: “Boy, do you like her!? Or wait… is she your sister or something?”
Daniel: “Yes, she’s my sister.”
Girl #3: “That’s ridiculous. How can she be your sister? She’s so dark and you’re so light?”
Daniel: “She is my sister.” He helps Violet into the slide.
Girls #3: Loudly, to the group. “I don’t want them up here anymore. We can’t have them up here anymore. Especially the little dark one.”
Daniel: Turned around sharply. “You are MEAN. Your words are mean. She is my sister. God made our family special, we are all different, and that’s ok. We love each other. And you are being MEAN.”
Daniel turned around, pushes Violet down the slide and follows after her.
Girl #1 or 2: “Yeah, you shouldn’t really be saying that stuff. It was kind of mean.”
How Fernando managed to restrain himself is beyond me. The tragedy of Violet having heard these words at the age of four is devastating. And how my little boy learned to be so brave, so heroic, I have no idea.
But he protected his sister, without hesitation or fear. Calmly, matter of factly, surrounded by bigger kids, knowing exactly when to ignore the aggressor and when to stand up against them.
Violet mentioned it a few days later, while discussing why Cinderella’s step sisters were so mean to her. “Why couldn’t they just help Cinderella? And be kind to her? I have a good brother… He protects me. Like when those kids were being bullies at the park… He protected me.”
I am consoled by the thought that if this early incident of racial bullying sticks around in her permanent memory, so will the memory of her brother coming to her rescue.
My heart is both broken and full.