Friday, June 24, 2011

"Thick Skin."



When I was 8 years old, I went to a small elementary school in the middle of Oklahoma. To grow up here meant to understand that everyone liked you and was nice...until they found out you were different.

There were only a handful of us – coarse hair, wide noses, slanted eyes, and skin color ranging from olive, to deep, ebony brown. I was somewhere on the lucky side, yet still foolish to think that the other children believed me when I said that I was only darker than them because of how much time my family spent outside. They stared in response, and I felt 5 inches tall.
For the most part I slipped through shadows, and escaped my first few years of school with only a small mess of heartbreak and realization about how cruel human beings truly can be. Ten years old, and I had already been called Nigger twice to my face. The first time, the words stung my skin. I didn’t know what that word meant, but I knew the tone behind it. And at that moment something inside me changed, and for the first time in my young, innocent life, I was made to feel that I wasn’t good enough.

Somewhere on the other end of the most unlucky in our handful, was a little girl. Deep, ebony brown girl. Her hair stood off her head in one puff of a ponytail on the back of her head. Round bottom in leggings, strong legs, and skin so smooth and sable, shining under the fluorescent lights of our grade school cafeteria.



Last night I swung outside with my husband and the night was still, and dark. I closed my eyes and in a flash, 20 years of my past life disappeared into the one memory of this little girl.
“There was this girl I used to go to elementary school with….”
I stopped, my grief, a 50 pound weight in my throat. In the dark, I could see him smiling at me. The moon and stars reflecting off his white grin.

“What is it?“

In my head, I was finding the only words I could put together to explain my memory of her.

”She was only a little girl.”

And in a flood of tears, my words drowned and were lost before they ever left my throat.
She never said one word. The only sound I remember coming from her was muffled cries. She sat in the corner of our lunch room, alone, dark skin shining under the fluorescent lights of the grade school cafeteria. She sucked her thumb, and she cried, and cried, and cried. I will never forget her face, not until the day I die and I am free from the sad memory I have held tight from this little girl.

On her face, were two white, salty streams. Falling from her almond eyes and rolling down her cheeks, she sat in the corner and I stared at her dark, ebony skin. I remember the way those two lines of tears looked, but not much else, anymore. She was just tears, to me.

After that year, I never saw her again. I found my solace in a small group of friends who were like me – the daughter of two college professors, she loved to try our food and play in my Mom’s garden with me. And a little girl, adopted from Korea when she was a baby. We were the lucky ones, we had each other and something about that made us feel a little less different, less odd, and less like the little girl with the dark, ebony skin and white tears.

Over the years my skin grew thick with the exposure to what the world was really like, outside of my own little village. There was no solace or mercy when I walked out the door and away from what I loved. And for years, I was lead to believe that who I was, was not good enough. They like you, until they find out you are different.



One day, Elodie will come home from school with her own streams of salt staining the cheeks of her thin, olive skin. Because someone was prettier than her. Faster, smarter, thinner, braver. Because the boy (or girl) she loves chose somebody else. Leaving her wondering ”What does she have that I don’t?” Because she was left feeling not good enough.

In my moments of quiet reflection, I wish for the strength to put on a brave face and teach her to find her courage to go on, with her head up high and her feet planted strong. Even if it means that after she goes to bed, I will stand over her and drown in my tears – devastated to know that something so innocent and pure has felt pain to this capacity, for the first time. Please let me find that strength.




Tonight, I am left wishing that every Mother, Father, teacher, friend, and peer could see the importance behind teaching kindness.
Tonight, I am left wishing for Elodie’s skin to grow thick, a lot faster than mine ever did.


Tonight... I am wishing for that little girl. Today, she is a woman, almost 30 years old. In my heart, I dream that she has a beautiful little girl with her own skin tone and wild hair. Those strong legs, almond eyes, and only a picture of pure happiness painted across her thick, ebony skin, her white smile will be the only memory of her I will choose to remember.





Happy Friday, friends.

Thank you for your sweet words on Round One of the styleathon, and your concern over the storm.

We have been cleaning up our backyard, and making it feel like home again. Fortunately, my veggie and herb garden, as well as quite a few sunflowers ended up making it through the damage. I'm also happy to report that Michael spotted two of the baby birds last week :) The best news of all. On the sad side, Petey has $3,000 worth of damage! Our poor adventure-wagon.

Leigh is hosting another giveaway for Round Two of the styleathon, and you can visit her to enter for a Sakura Bloom silk sling, and Marla Sielo Wristlet. Follow this link, if you are interested.

We have our Round Two assignments, and I am so excited for this one. We have 350 words to describe why we wear our children, and how baby wearing has affected our lives. How many adjectives can I come up with to fill 350 words about how amazing it is to nurse your baby while you brush your teeth?! :)




Happy weekend, friends. Is there anything you hope to accomplish over this weekend?

We are going to start the hard transition of moving Elodie to her own room, to sleep in her crib. I have a feeling there will be a lot of tears. From ME :)

We are also spending time with family, taking Elodie to one of my childhood watering holes, and I'm going to read up on this blog I came across when searching for Wallflower lyrics from middle school. Random, right? I love the internet for those very reasons.
The words in the photo of the girl came from a song on that blog, and I just so happened to stumble across it this evening as I was putting these words together to put here.





Sometimes I guess the stars and moon align, and we are blessed with tiny reminders of who we are, and who we want to be. Be kind, friends. Our words and actions leave bigger marks than we allow ourselves to think.

80 comments:

Jessica said...

I love this post. As a teacher I know I need to teach the curriculum, but to me, the most important thing that I teach my students is acceptance, to be respectful, and love our differences. If they take one thing away from me I hope they remember to always be kind.

Wendy said...

What a beautiful message to share! I, too, wish that more people stressed the importance of kindness to their children. My daughter is biracial and I worry about the way she may be treated one day. I'm doing everything I can to build up her confidence now so that she knows she always has a safe place to come to with her mama.

Caitlin said...

This was absolutely beautiful and riveting. It's crazy to me how hateful people, and by extension their children, can be. Wishing you and your daughter all the luck and strength in the world, and wishing the best to the little girl in your post. <33

Blessed Rain said...

I grew up where "white" was the majority only because we had so many other races that 40% white was the highest statistic.
Its a trade off I grew up in a sea of color and differences were celebrated - the trade? Good education.
Growing up in a melting pot is great and Awesome!
However, there is always a price and our is bad neighborhoods and low education.
My daughter doesn't know life as anything else.
I just wish that one day we could have both - the melting pot AND a good school system.

I am glad that you found your way - I join in your thoughts and prayers hoping the other girl did too.

Aura said...

Thank you for being one of those wonderful teachers, Jessica :)

Michael is working towards his secondary education degree, right now. We talk a lot about the things he will teach in his classroom, someday.

amanda said...

Yup. That made me cry. I can relate as one of the outsiders. You are beautiful, more than words can describe.

Gramerly said...

As a teacher, I am always worried about the kindness factor. It's always been strange when I have a child who seems to have this knack for zeroing in on a child who is easy to bully. I will work all year to keep nastiness at bay and am successful in my classroom, but on the playground or in the lunchroom, all bets are off. Why, I ask, but I don't know.
My daughter is your age and is also adjusting to life as a new mommy with her ten week old. She nearly died getting him here, so there will be no more that way, but she'll lovingly accept whatever color baby comes her way next. For us, ebony and puffy hair will be a cause of rejoicing, but I know all won't feel that way.
I don't even know you, but I'm glad you remembered that little tear stained dumplin'.
You have a beautiful family.

Kayla Poole said...

Oh sweet Aura, I've seen that little girl. My own version of her, back when I was a child, and now, as a teacher of three and four year olds. I see her in the faces of my cosmopolitan community, in the pages of the books I read in undergrad and graduate school. I see her and want to give everything I have to make her laugh again. Thank you for this post. Elodie will be thick-skinned because she has you. What a gift.

jociegal said...

Wow - really beautiful. I too, can relate. In school, I was made fun of for my freckles and height - constantly. I hated my fair skin and the fact that I was the tallest one in class. I used to cry on the bus almost every day, wishing I could be anywhere but there. It is a deep pain that I know is still within me. I love what you say about teaching kindess. It means so much. Can you just imagine what the world could be like if kindness were talked about as much as politics, celebrities and who's right vs wrong. Really powerful stuff...

Olivia Grace said...

Your beautiful posts make me cry, every single time. In a good way, because they touch my heart. Our oldest daughter came home from school during her kindergarten year crying, her heart broken, because a group of little girls had called her the "n word". She had never even heard that word in her life, so when she asked them what that meant and why they were calling her that, they told her "because you are dark and ugly". She was devastated. And we were beside ourselves, holding her so close and wishing it all away for her. We teach both of our children to embrace who they are, to love their gorgeous bronzed Mexican/Cajun skin, and to treat others with love and kindness. That's all we can: live through love and turn the other cheek. Even when it's hard, even when you are hurt: live through love and embrace yourself and those around you.
And cheers to baby wearing, it is so amazing in every way!!!

Jessica said...

Aura,
This post brought tears to my eyes. So many memories I had forgotten, of my adolescence, being picked on for my hair or glasses or braces, or not having the right clothes. Painful things that have long past, but still sting at the thought. As a mother to my own little girl now. I hold her tight in hopes to protect her from anyone's harsh words or actions that would make her feel less than the beautiful, amazing, little girl she is and the woman she will become. I know I will not always be able to keep her safe from hatefulness, but I will be able to wipe away the tears and tell her she is loved. To teach her that maybe by her actions of kindness and compassion, that she can be a living lesson for those other children who do not have such a presence in their own lives.
Thank you so much for posting this.

I hope that you, Michael and Elodie have a wonderful weekend.
Love and Blessings

Morgan said...

love this post.
everyone has days or longer feeling like they aren't good enough and it's just not true.

Jaymi said...

What happened on TB was awful and I'm sorry. Obviously, you are better than that.

Katie said...

Best of luck with moving Elodie into her own room! My husband and I are currently working on that with our baby boy, Eliot--and he is five months old! We started moving him over at three months, but was getting up about five times a night to nurse. I just couldn't keep up. So, now that he gets up about three times to nurse at five months, we figured we really should try. And while I miss him so much at night and feel like I sleep less, he is perfectly content in his crib. In the end, I think it is me who needs him more in the night. :) Though it is hard for me, the space and independence is a good thing to develop. I'm sure you know these things, but I just wanted to say that I know how you feel!

O'Melly said...

It's wonderful that you were able to find a secure sense of self growing up, despite the judgement and weakness of others. I was an extremely sensitive child and it took me a very long time to develop thick skin, and I wasn't an ethnic minority, so I can only imagine how hard it must have been. People are often so afraid of what they don't understand, that they must hurt or destroy it. It's a sad and cruel world sometimes, but it's those challenges that make us stronger.

Your daughter will be very thankful to have such a strong mommy.

Melissa said...

Thank you for writing this. I am currently pregnant with my first child and have has thoughts similar to this often during the pregnancy. I am a Mexican woman who grew up just outside Los Angeles and never really knew I was "different". When I went away to college in Eastern Ohio, it became alarmingly apparent there weren't very many people who looked like me at school or in our college town. Then when I moved to my husband's hometown in Michigan it was the same all over again. I was a grown woman of 23 getting looks in the super market or at the mall and it made me feel smaller than I'd ever felt in my life. I pray our child, who will probably have my skin tone, hair and dark eyes and not my husband's porcelain complexion will never be able to share in those feelings.

Lastly I came across your blog about a month ago and simply love it because I feel I can relate to you in so many ways but mostly because it is so wonderful to find another beautiful, confidant woman on the internet who looks similar to me. Thank you.

mama d said...

thank you for this post.

a reminder.

and best of luck with the transition. it will be hard, but well worth it. for all three of you.

happy weekend!

jodi said...

you'll have so many moments like this aura, when you remember your childhood and think of elodie a little more grown and dipping her toes in the big, wide world. Kind words are oh so essential. and they start in the home x

Kathleen said...

Beautifully said! I distinctly remember a girl who came from cambodia in first grade. She did not speak a word of English. The teacher asked for a volunteer to show her around during recess. Not a single volunteer. I'm the first generation born in the US, I knew what it was like to be "different". So, I raised my little hand. Everyone in the class giggeled and snickered at me. I felt embarrassed I raised my hand, but I knew it was the right thing to do. That day at recess the little Cambodian girl and I held hands and walked together in the playground. She held my hand so tight and wouldnt let go.We didn't have a common llanguage, but that day, I knew what she was saying. Its good to know that in different, sometimes we aren't alone.

Sini said...

beautiful post. So true, adults can be mean, but so can kids. When I grew up, our city didn't have any people with dark skin. I was so jealous (in a good way) to my turkish cousin, she was so pretty and I loved that dark skin of hers. Every summer we were comparing our arms and legs, how different it is. I am happy that I grew up in a family where we love everyone, not looking the origins or skin color. This is why I could bring my foreign boyfriend to home, too. Now living in France, I see beautiful and so different people around me all the time, what there never was when I grew up and it's amazing! It's a mix of different cultures :)

And you know, everyone can be teased at school. I was, because I have nose that gets red easily. So I was teased to be drunk. And because of my hobbies (riding) and it got bad, violent teasing sometimes. I came home with black eye once,it stopped as my dad came to the school to talk with the teachers.

I hope Petey will get fixed soon, it's just huge amount of money. That sucks. Take care of yourself and happy weekend, Aura!

Betsy said...

Look at her! So perfect!!

we just started the crib transition thing. he does his first stretch in his own crib (giving him a chance to miraculously sleep thru the night when he decides to) and then we grab him and bring him to bed with us for the remainder. cause he's a total boob monger. makes the transition more bearable...

Tina and Curtis said...

This is such a beautiful post, and I can absolutely relate to this. When our family moved to England my sister and I were bullied constantly for our thick American accents, even though in every other way we were the same as the rest. She has a thick, Yorkshire accent now that she adapted to very quickly, and I have a weird mix because I tried so hard not to allow mine to change. I am training to become a teacher, and teach a lot now, and I hope that the kids I teach learn to love and embrace difference. I hope that this new generation - Elodie's generation - can be just that bit bigger, kinder and more accepting than ours.

Pam said...

it's sad how those first run ins with hurt and insecurity can leave their marks on us, some of us have it worse then others but i think everyone has that memory of the first time someone made them feel less then, mine was during my second or third day of summer day care when i was 8 or 9, we had a certain day of the week where we all went to the ymca to swim, there were a lot of kids there that weren't in our day care, some older and some younger, a group of the older kids made fun of me in my bathing suit that day and called me fat, i remember crying all night to my parents and my dad telling me that i needed to develop a thicker skin and not listen to what people said to me, but it was the first time that i realized that i was different and that people could and would make fun of me for it, i don't know if it was for the best but i spent the summers with my grandma after that, i didn't go back to daycare, it was the beginning of a long road of self awareness and acceptance, i wish everyone was taught at a young age the power of words and the importance of kindness and acceptance towards others

The Maiden Metallurgist said...

I think you handle yourself beautifully and with a lot of grace. I suppose that is part of having a thick skin, and you wear it well, but I wish it wasn't necessary. I wish women (and girls too) would learn to be kind to each other.

A Cappelli said...

This is the most moving post and it hits so close to home for me. I went to a small Catholic elementary school. I am of Italian descent- but, with my thick dark hair and darker skin(than my light skinned, light haired classmates)- people could not place where I belonged. As if by my looks- I needed to be "placed." I always felt so conspicuous- so different. It changed, of course, when I got older. In college, the "exotic-ness" of my look, attracted people who mistakenly thought I was this worldly girl on exchange in Buffalo, NY. They were often disappointed to learn that I was "just Italian" and had lived here my whole life.

Skipping forward to today- my children have also found themselves to be "conspicuous" in school, in our neighborhood. Three of my four children have bright, rich red hair. They all attend inner city public school- where they are the "minority." Where their light skin and copper hair would have been well accepted in my childhood grammar school- they are now the foreign, different creatures in their own schools. They have been the objects of equal amounts of teasing and over the top admiration (from strangers who fawn over the uniqueness of their appearance).
I think that the experience of being different, definitely helped to shape me (and my children) into compassionate, empathetic, respectful human beings- accepting of other people's differences, uniqueness.

You are a wonderful mother for, among so many reasons, putting your experience, your views into words for your daughter.

Melstrick said...

Aura, I am a lurker, but I had to come out to say that I was that little girl in the cafeteria. Not literally, but I remember 24 years ago, in first grade in my school in New Jersey, being the only black girl in a sea of white faces. Although no one ever called me any names, no one invited me into their circle and I remember crying on the playground every day, and not being able to explain to my white teachers and playground aides why I was upset. I just wanted to belong. I wanted to not feel so different. It was the first time I became keenly aware that I was different. Your words brought back so many memories of that vulnerable little girl, that insecure little six year old, who only wanted someone to run and play with but was not invited solely because of the color of her skin. It was not until another black family came to live in town, with a daughter my age, that I had a playmate and I experienced social happiness. The fact that you were called the N-word, my heart bleeds for you. Your blog shows you to be a beautiful person. Thank you for articulating this so well. Keep writing. I love reading your words.

foxtrotrevival said...

It's funny. Before you have children the parts that you think will be the hardest are not at all the parts that really are. It's not the crying, the late nights, the lack of sleep. It's the worrying, the thoughts about when your sweet baby will come face to face with something that cracks their shell of innocence. It's the hope that fills your heart that they will be treated kindly and treat others kindly, as well.

great post, aura.

Such a lovely post.

jennifer said...

Thank you for writing this. I can relate to the pain of other children's cruelty. Although I homeschool my girls, as a parent I can't shield them from this inevitable part of growing up.

Viator said...

Dear Aura,
Thank you so much for your words and pictures. The peacefulness that emanates from your words, photos, and philosophy helps direct me back to myself, to renewal, after long days at work. Work that is draining and often devoid of beauty and peace.
I'm so glad I found your blog.

Anna of IHOD said...

Heart wrenching and riveting. Beautifully written.
Thank you for being a testimony and witness to promoting love and understanding to all of our neighbors. Memories can burn and run deep. I hope our nation only continues to step forward in compassion.

Victoria said...

I love to wear my Aubriella. She sleeps in there or peers out into the world. I love to wear her out to the stores cause it seems like less people touch her if she is attached to me.
Last week my husbands grandmother tried making me feel guilty for "letting her hang off me".. I almost cried.

Mary said...

lovely post aura. i totally agree with you - that whole thing about sticks and stones will break my bones will never hurt me - it's just rubbish. what maybe good for you to remember though is that your family's love for you and the wonderful home environment you had growing up today probably enabled you to overcome the harsh words and ignorance of the kids you went to school with. and you no doubt will provide the same love filled home for elodie - how could she turn out anything but kind and wise with a mother like you and a father like your husband. our home environments shape us most i think for better or worse. to think those kids thought calling someone the n-word was a normal response to noticing their skin colour was slightly different to their own presumably pasty version... they obviously grew up in different homes and hopefully now different times. i'm not excusing their behaviour obviously by trying to rationalise it - it seems shocking to me. i guess in that way i'm naive. anyway, i agree so much - being kind is so, so important and we learn that first of all at home.

MelissaOklahoma said...

Oh, I can relate to this! First off, I should say that fortunately I haven't had too many run ins with racism directed at me. Most of the time I don't even think about color of skin... of course there are those few times when I become hyper aware of it. Like the time we went to the noodling festival in Paul's Valley a couple years ago - oh my! was i ever aware that my skin was darker. Another time a boy in middle school called me a "chink." Which proves that racism is really just ignorance - because a "chink" is pretty much a slur against people of Chinese descent, and I'm half Filipino. But he probably was of the thought that all "Asians are the same"...I do have to say that I am thankful for a mother and father that taught me to be confident and proud of who I am.

Meggie said...

Beautiful. My son was born at the beginning of June and as I hold him I often think about the years to come and the pain he will face at the hands of other children just for being who he is. Strange how such young people can be so cruel. Elodie is lucky to have parents that love her so much!

Anonymous said...

This post is the reason why I love this blog. I myself experienced horrible words growing up, I found my fight because of those words. But the words still echo in my head. I am married to a wonderful man who experienced horrible words growing up too, and we now have a beautiful daughter.

She is to young to know that she has already experienced the sideways looks and words. It breaks my heart knowing that she will experience those words too. But I know that she will find her fight because of those experiences.

steph said...

thank you for sharing these words. my husband is from west africa, and our son has the most beautiful deep, carmel colored skin and gorgeous black curls. i hope with all my heart that he will encounter only love and acceptance, but i silently brace myself for the day that he will come home from school with tears streaming down his face and difficult questions. thank you. i hope that i can find the strength to give him strenth.

Jamie Nicole said...

This brought tears to my eyes. I am *obsessed* with your blog which I happened to stumble across just a few weeks ago. I've been reading back, back, back, and you have motivated me to start writing again. Thank you for taking your time to write in here and really make your readers think. I have done more introspection on myself then I have done in a while, thanks to you.

chambanachik said...

Beautiful.

Olivia said...

Wow...this hits home. I'm half Mexican. In the 1st grade I moved to a new school, and on recess a boy...probably in the 5th grade pushed me down and called me a "nigger". There was a crowd around laughing. Like you, I had no clue what that meant, but I knew the tone was not good, and for the first time in my life I felt different. That memory is never far from reach. In my darkest moments of insecurity this memory plays in my mind like an old movie reel. That single event lasted maybe 2 minutes, yet it made it's mark, and has never fully healed. I pray that if my children ever face such cruelty that I can lead them on the high road, even if my heart is breaking every step of the way. This was a great post. Thanks!

17 Perth said...

Such a beautiful post. Amen to your desires for your little girl, (I hope she never has to experience what you or the other little girl did, but if she does, she is lucky to have a momma to remind her how beautiful, strong and loved she is) and I pray that the little girl from your childhood has a family, and has a little girl that she is teaching to be strong and confident too.

Growing up in a very southern, very baptist town I was the "catholic girl". I didn't attend the very large church that all my schoolmates attended, and I can remember the first time someone told me "God doesn't love you because you are Catholic" (around 8 years old). Utter confusion. But, one of my best friends (until this day) I met that year, and she was a girl seeking solace in the corner of the gym because she too had darker skin and didn't feel that she "fit in". To this day we laugh about us being "Mutt and Jeff"....but she is one of the most beautiful women I know who taught me so much about what it is like to be different, even if it is in the smallest of ways and how to love yourself despite those differences.

I'm so happy to hear the reports of the birds--that is great news! : )

Have a great weekend, we will eat this weekend, kayak on the beach, and spend some time in our backyard.
xoxo

Lia said...

Like many of the people that have posted comments already, I can totally relate to this. I'm biracial and went to an all black elementary school. Many, many years of being asked "What are you?" always in a condescending tone from people who made the assumption that I would know exactly what they meant, made me have my thick skin. It also, eventually, made me start responding "What do you mean, what am I?" I'd come to the conclusion that if they were willing to ask such a question, in such a way, then they should be comfortable enough to explain exactly what they meant by it.

I'm 22 now and if I have a child someday, I think the only thing I can do is to hope that the world keeps getting better when it comes to race relations. The state of acceptance when it comes to race, gender, sexual preference, might seem bad sometimes, but really it's always getting better.

Lady Jennie said...

That story makes my heart sick. Growing up in NY, we were fortunate and open minded, raised to be that way. My adopted sister is Korean, and my adopted brother was half black. (He died).

Still, it didn't stop me sitting alone at lunch for years, feeling all the wounds of not having friends and not feeling good enough, white as I am.

allsmileskendra said...

Wow. I just came across your blog the other day, and I must say that I am blessed by your sharing. Honestly. As a black woman, I often think that I am at the bottom of the barrel. It gives me great hope to know that there are other people who can empathize and truly lift us up. Thank you so much for sharing, and for raising your child to believe that our differences make us beautiful. I pray that one day, there will be no "normal" or "typical beauty," but we will all celebrate the variety of humanity. Again, thank you.

Anna said...

I too hope that little girl, now a woman, has her own little daughter. I hope she holds her head high and knows how worthy she is.

jbok said...

Aura, i am in tears for the girl from ur school. kindness is so important. hopefully some of the children who tormented the "different" kids have grown into adults who have learned to be kinder and more accepting.

on a lighter note, nursing while brushing teeth, glad im not the only one lol!!

brooke

Sarah said...

This was post was great in such an honest and sad way. What struck me was your line "I hope her skin grows thick earlier than mine." I have 3 little brown babies and everyday I wish they can remain soft and innocent a little longer. I'm sorry to say how much it hurts when they first start to roughen their skin. It means that someone else with their sharp words or sideways looks were noticed. That they noticed they were different. It's a painful day for you as a mother that I pray never happens. I pray someday, soon, before your sweet Elodie is too old, that people stop seeing 'different'. But I know for certain she is so very blessed to have you, because she will already have the strength of knowing that she is loved and beautiful beyond measure.

Brighton said...

As a teacher I spend a lot of time teaching/modeling kindness. It's something that children need to see daily. I tell them "You will leave my room and not remember one specific thing I taught you, but you will always remember the way I made you feel". I live by that, and by the end of the school year they do too : o )

Kristin Jo said...

Thank you. Your Elodie is a few months younger than my Georgia Elodie.

I too hope to raise a kind soul. Kids can be so mean and I dread the day when she will feel it for the first time (its inevitable, isn't it?).

Fashionably Learning To Be said...

Thanks so much for this lovely post. I also endured some mean words from children because my family did not have much money. I will always strive to teach my children to be kind to others and pray for those who suffer.

Melissa said...

This is so beautifully written! This is something that I pray my daughter doesn't have to deal with..but I know will. And at that point I just pray I will know how to console her. Thank you for your words:)

Nolita said...

I relate to your feelings of being different growing up in this small town. I was 10 by the time we moved here and there were not many Filipino/Americans and I sort of blended in with the darker skinned girls. I didn't appreciate my unique look until later in life.

My experiences weren't as bad as my daughter's though, and she JUST turned 9. Her first experience with ignorance was when she was 4 and a classmate told her she couldn't be a mermaid because she had brown skin! I was furious and hurt for her and wanted to tell that little girl that there WERE no mermaids, but instead I found a brown mermaid Barbie for my little girl to bring to show and tell to prove her wrong. To this day they are good friends. She's dealt with ignorant comments from kids and also some very mean comments from kids who are different from her and they've been extremely hurtful. She knows so much more about life than THEY do and it breaks my heart for her lost innocence. She's not a shy little wallflower though and I am glad for that. We emphasize being comfortable in the skin that God gave us because we can't change that. It's boring to just blend in anyway.

Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. I hope that little black girl that you described in the cafeteria has grown up to be a compassionate woman who hasn't let her childhood experiences scar her self esteem.

Happy Monday!

Kelly @ Dare to be Domestic said...

I love, love this post. And I love the comment you left on my blog. It's funny how two girls who have never met think of each other when we smell or hear about stinky trees! oxox Sadly after the big storms in Alabama our Bradford Pear lost a huge limb and now looks bald on one side. It was the worst damage we got so in retrospect we were blessed and lucky, it's just sad to have such a pretty fluffy tree feel slightly off now... but it still smells "delightful" haha. oxox THank you for thinking of me!

Marie said...

That story was heartbreaking. I felt a stab in the heart when you described that poor little girl crying in the school cafeteria. Oh, I hope she is happy and strong and proud now.

I'm like you. Dark hair, olive skin, I was in the handful minority growing up, but I was not the unluckiest.

I have a son now. He's straddling the line between baby and toddler. He has blue eyes and light brown hair, almost blonde. (I don't know how! He has none of my coloring, whatsoever!) I think the kindness you want is inside him, and I will do everything in my power to reinforce it. There is never an excuse for hurting another person.

That poor, innocent little girl. I wish I could pick her up, dry her tears, and spirit her away.

Anonymous said...

I tried finding an e-mail on your page, but couldn't. I have a question: I see you take so many pictures at different places and not just your home, what kind of camera bag do you have?

I'm trying to find one that isn't too big and bulky and that I would be able to carry anywhere, thanks!

April 11 Momma said...

What happened on the bump was horrible. You didn't deserve that. Those women were cruel and seemed jealous. Your positivity remains intact. You win.

stacy said...

Aura,
If more parents would be as loving and insightful as you are, the word would be a better place. The bullies who talk like that learn from emample at home. Its so sad and sickening. When children hurt other children, they have no idea of the pain and suffering they will cause for years to come. They must be taught acceptance and diversity at home. My daughter is two and I am already teaching her these things. Thank you for writing so openly- love this blog.

Becky said...

I too remember getting picked on as a little girl for being "different." And now I too have a baby girl and hope that she is spared any bullying. However, when she does, inevitably, witness or receive cruelty I hope she will have the strength to not give it a "moment of her worry" as my own mother used to say. LOVE your blog. LOVE it. Good luck on the crib transition. We co-slept until 6 months when we couldn't take her kicks or "bed wanderings" any longer!

Julie said...

Beautiful, Aura.

WendyF said...

This post made me tear up - I grew up in a small town. Few minorities and as a Korean adoptee, I often found it difficult to share with my parents the experiences I had of being teased. Sometimes it was down right cruel, however it has taught me valuable lessons of compassion and understanding, to have an appreciation for differences.

The littlest said...

oh aura, it is so difficult to think of our sons and daughters suffering at the hands of others. my little sister, cassandra, reminds me so much of you. you even look alike (i'm the lightest sister in my family)- she would always come home from school crying because the other kids called her Paco or Aunt Jemima (i was also called this because i had thick lips) - her two daughters are half african american and she is already seeing the prejudice emerge. i have to believe that these things will help us become stronger because the alternative is too heartbreaking to imagine.

in the meantime, it is in our hands to be kind to others, you are absolutely right!

xoxo elizabeth

Laurel said...

Beautiful.

There will be tears. It was SO hard for me but after the fact I was so glad that we did it when we did. It's more freeing than you know. Sad and scary but freeing.

Good luck.
Shed the tears. It's what we as moms do.

Glad to hear about the garden and sunflowers. My heart broke for you when I saw the pictures!

Pink Ronnie said...

What an amazingly beautiful post. I'm so sorry that you were made to feel that you were not good enough at such a young age. What you wrote really touched me and I want to thank you for sharing it.
Love,
Ronnie

besswess said...

This is so beautiful and tragic. Loved it! Thank you for sharing.

Valerie said...

Aura, I want you to know how amazing I think your blog is! I very much appreciate your words and how, as a mother, you echo my thoughts about my own children. I dread the day my girls come home crying or worried about something some unkind soul said to them. Growing up, I usually fit in well with my peers but this did not make me immune to unkind attacks. Comments like "your forehead is really big" or "stupid outfit" or "You're ugly because you have freckles" still resonate in my mind and I've been out of school for many years! Your blog gives me the inspiration to FINALLY chuck those hideous comments and grow a thick skin between them. And to all the bullies out there, I happen to LIKE my big forehead, my clothes and my freckles because they make me ME. :)

Danielle said...

Couple of things :)

1.) The random blog is one of my best friend's little sister! Bianca's little sister. PS - Bianca is in love with your blog. I got her hooked :)

2.) I think it's so weird how every time I read your blog, even if it's not on the day you post it, it somehow intersects with something that happened in my day. The "pastor" on CHK campus/champlain gave a little talk today in my benefits orientation, and one of his biggest points was to perform 3 random acts of kindness a day. His other main point was to read or to learn about The Four Agreements - a book by Don Miguel Ruiz. It gives a code of personal conduct, there's four, obviously, to live tell yourself and live by everyday. You should google them for yourself - you may come across something random and cool :)

Danielle said...

Ha! Scratch #1 :) wrong tab. Sorry! But I did get Bianca hooked on your blog, she loves it.

Chrissy said...

First of all, BEAUTIFUL post. And so right on. I recently came across your blog and I just have to tell you I love your pics! Gorgeous! I started a blog last year but I kinda suck at the technical part...lol. Anyways, so I have to tell you--we have adopted 4 children. Our first we adopted when she was 7. And ironically she looks just like me. Blonde, skinny, freckles. People are always surprised when they learn she is adopted. Then our 3 younger children. We got the surprise of our life when instead of getting one we got 3. True, Jude and Rowan are mexican and Navajo. They have brown skin, shiny black Navajo hair and dark dark brown eyes. So its pretty obvious they are adopted. I dont mind. I am OK being a conspicuous family. When people see our family, its immediately obvious that they are adopted. However, its amazing to me the STUPID comments and questions people ask me. I am shocked every single time. I dont even see skin color anymore. I really dont. I worry about my kids as they get older (they are 2, 3 and 4--biological siblings all 10 months apart--whew!) and Im SO glad they will have each other. So thanks for your beautiful words--and Im sorry that you felt such inadequacy as a young child. I hope as we raise our kids that we can do our best to raise our kids right and teach them what is really important. Because its not about skin color.

Snappy-Q said...

Wow, that was such a powerful post. Aura, you have a way with words that is so amazing. Thanks for sharing once again.

the lil bee said...

Isn't it amazing how cruel children can be? We look at our little babies and can't imagine they'd ever grow up to hurt another person or feel pain themselves. What a horrible thing you had to go through, and that poor sweet girl who wasn't as fortunate as you. Bullying is awful and yet, somehow, it makes us stronger. My heart goes out to that little girl that you were. You're such a good mom, Aura. xo

Laceface said...

love it!

<3lace
http://singalongforever-laceface.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Aura, By God this reaches you.
I have been following you since the beginning, and I thank you for making my heart flutter every time I see you have, indeed posted something new. I have never asked anything of you, but today I find I MUST, in order to save my sanity. I have a 2 month old angel (yes, I have grown with you.) The love of my life has recently not been the love of my life. He struck me. He hit my face in front of the baby just because he got annoyed with me. I am a "stand by your man" type woman, and I love him more than I could ever love anything in this world. But he treats me awful, .. lies to me, and today, after getting back from a business trip, he told me, (glass in my heart) that he did, indeed sleep with another woman. OHH AURA he BOASTED it, he bragged about it, he said it with such a pouring spout of hate. - I don't know why. I have been a loyal woman. I just, and fair woman, and fun. (Believe me you would be the last person I would lie to-this story sounds soo strange) I really have.. been a wonderful woman to him. I rub his back each night, and do more than I want to in fear of his bad moods and pleasing him.. and my body.. MY SACRED body; to find it was used so poorly. I feel like a fool. - I ran home to my mother... I ran away to another city, hundreds of miles away.. - I know you don't like giving advice like this.. but you must know that I am a loyal follower, and now, in my time of need, I wait to hear what you say/read what you type. I need your opinion, your strength.. .. even if it isn't what I want to hear.. I value your opinion closest to God himself. -
Your life seems perfect, it is everything I long to have. .. Even your feet are gorgeous..
<3 all of my heart and strength- just a mommy and her baby.
Thank you for all you have done to enrich my life.

jaime said...

Like your friend, my twin and I are Korean adoptees. We spent about 10 years of our childhood in Texas where our blond-hair blue-eyed sister was adored. We spent 10 years wishing for blond hair and white skin. It didn't help that our mom told us we weren't Korean. I thought if I wished hard enough, I could be white. There was a point where even our sister didn't want to play with us because she thought she'd turn dark from association. I hated the shame of being different from the rest of my family. As children, we didn't know better. As an adult now, I feel sadness. I actually forgot the self-loathing until your post. Thank you for reminding us all to be kind. I never want my daughter to wish she was anyone else; she is beautiful and perfect just as she is.

zoe dawn jane said...

if you ever get the time, there is a
series i would love for you to see. its
called 'Go back to where you came
from." It is about six australians who
have preconceived notions of refugees
& asylum seekers and are challenged to
go through a refugee's journey in
reverse.

i was really shocked at some of the
things these people were saying. how
could they be so cruel? i am
constantly amazed at the human
heart. how much we can feel & understand & yet how calloused we
can be. i hope you can watch it
sometime!

zoe dawn jane said...

here is the link to the show if you'd
like to watch it! forgot it in my last
comment-

http://www.sbs.com.au/shows/goback/episodes/page/i/1/h/Episodes/

Michelle said...

Love this post. Makes me hope that when our little ones grow up that the world will have come far enough to see beyond. I hope that as a mother I remember the strength, confidence and compassion in that teachable moment.

elsagedesigns.com said...

What a powerful lesson and beautiful words. Thank you so much for sharing. I am a teacher as well and I'm fortunate enough to work with students of color and a large bilingual population.

I teach a class called AVID, Achievement Via Individual Determination. The program is fabulous (your husband might be interested). I would love to use this post as a source for one of our discussions. Would that be okay with you?

The world needs more stories like this, shared in such a straightforward and honest manner. I hope that our kids can see a different world, one where we are accepting and interested in the ways that we are different. Rather than afraid of those differences.

{ T G L } said...

What a poignant account on the devastating power of racism and exclusion. I sure do hope that 'little girl' is out there, strong in her skin, happy in her life. And I hope your 'little girl' can walk through life unscathed.

We truly live in an unredeemed world.

Blessings,
This Good Life

Linka said...

Absolutely beautiful! I love this post and it rings so true for me. It's just not fair!! I would scream often, but who cares about fair. Life's not fair. She'll be tough! And so will my son! They've got their mamas with battle wounds to prove they can survive!

Mahfam said...

Wow, I'm so lucky to have found your blog and lucky to have come across this story!
I too, grew up different in Arkansas. Like yours, my parents are also from Iran and when we moved to AR from AZ (I was 9) we were the only "different" family there. I really relate to your story and I too, hope that I can set an example for my baby boy who is 11 months.

:)Mahfam:)

Jess said...

I loved your post. I remember when I was in third grade we went to a school where I was one of three "white" kids in my class.
Apparently I cried almost every day.
I don't remember that though.

And can you explain how to wear your baby and breastfeed!! That would be bliss!