Sunday, February 24, 2008

We are an odd family

We are an odd family. My kids know all the lyrics to La Bamba and Low Rider. We eat beans and tortillas for Thanksgiving dinner and submarine sandwiches on Christmas Day. I am the only white person in the family, and I am the only one who loves greens. Despite having two parents with graduate school degrees, all three kids are in remedial courses. My husband plays the harmonica and wants to learn the accordion. I am about as musical as a tube of toothpaste. My kids won't watch too many cartoons because, in the words of their aunt, the cartoons aren't smarter than they are; instead the kids watch Nature and This Old House. My oldest is a rabid Democrat and at eleven is totally engrossed with the presidential race. Rocky plays guitar, an African-American kid emulating Van Halen.

However, despite the stresses we had in the past, including Rocky's attachment disorder and Nita's health issues, we are also pretty normal. The kids go to Catholic school. We go to church as a family--two sing in the choir. We volunteer at the kids' school. I drive a minivan. We grocery shop, and we go to Kmart after church on Sunday. We eat supper together every night, and we laugh and talk together and spend time as a family.

And in this enlightened age, we still get stared at when we go out in public. Sometimes, when we go out, we feel like a circus sideshow. Yes, we have two Mexicans, two blacks, and a white mom, but interracial relationships and transracial adoption aren't all that uncommon anymore. I am fiercely protective of my kids--when people stare, I smile and say hello, just to acknowledge their attention, not to judge it. Most of the time, people start and mutter a response and wander off. I would be happy to talk to people and answer any questions they may have, but most don't get that far.

However, worse than that are the people who give us money. The most recent time was when the kids and I were in the Salvation Army, and they were Christmas shopping for one another. They did a beautiful job of choosing books for each other and were thrilled with the bounty they got with a minimal amount of cash. Part of the lesson, though, was that the kids couldn't buy all that they wanted and had to make choices about what they were going to get. In the midst of the discussion, this lady rushed up to us and handed each of the kids money. I tried to object, and she didn't listen to my reasoning, just rushing away while I chased after her, and the kids, for once remembering their manners, chimed "Thank you!"

I wonder if that lady would have given cash to an intact family or one which wasn't so obviously blended.

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