More

My mixed daughter was told it's 'weird' that I have dark skin. This is what I told her.

An African-American dad had a conversation about race with his mixed daughter in terms that a preschooler could understand.

Asking how a preschooler's day went can bring about some interesting conversations. This one took the cake.

My daughter is like most 5-year-olds, especially when her stream of consciousness starts flowing.

"The sun and moon are friends, right?"


"It's not fair that I can't eat bacon every day."

"Can we live at Disneyland?"

Sure, kiddo ... whatever you say. GIF from "Community."

But on a recent drive home from school, she stopped me in my tracks when she told me what one of her classmates said.

"Daddy, Marcy [not her real name] said your dark skin is weird. Are you weird?"

Oh boy.

For some background, my wife is half-white, half-Japanese. And I'm black. My daughter's preschool is predominately made up of white and Asian children.

To be clear, this isn't an indictment of Marcy, her parents, or the school. As we all know, kids say some pretty wild and unfiltered stuff. And in the interest of full disclosure, my kid says some pretty wild stuff too, so I'm not sure if her encounter with Marcy went down exactly the way she described it. Regardless, it certainly gave me an opportunity to have my first in-depth conversation about this with my young daughter.

I did this once before with her regarding the happy holidays "controversy" and it worked well, so I figured I'd try to explain race in a way that a preschooler could understand.

1. There are a lot of mixed children out there.

My daughter recently turned 5. If I pulled out a bunch of crayons and tried to engage her in a "yellow and blue makes green" conversation to explain the appearances of mixed children, her reaction would be like...

Try again, Dad.

But without going into too much detail on the "how" part, I explained how two people with different skin colors can create babies who are a mixture of both parents' complexion. More importantly, there are a lot of those little ones out there — from everyday children like mine to celebrity kids like Walker, the son of Taye Diggs and Idina Menzel.

Walker, pictured with his dad, Taye Diggs, is one of millions of mixed children in America. Photo by David Buchan/Getty Images Entertainment.

In fact, according to studies, the percentage of mixed-race babies in America increased to 10% in 2013. Back in 1970, that number was only 1%. About 7% of the adult population in America claims to be of mixed race.

That's when I asked her: "Isn't it cool that we live in a world where kids can look just like their parents or a little different?"

She nodded in agreement.

That was relatively easy, so I decided to dig a little deeper.

2. If you like (or don't like) someone, skin color should never be the reason why.

My daughter owns many of the royal dolls from the Disney universe. To prove another point, I asked her to choose her favorite and least favorite from the bunch.

Disney royalty (from left to right) in the form of Queen Elsa, Princess Ariel, Princess Jasmine, and Princess Belle.

Her least favorite was Queen Elsa from "Frozen."

Why?

"Because I don't like the cold."

Word. That's why we live in California. (I guess the cold really does bother her, anyway. #FrozenJokes)

Her favorite was Princess Jasmine from "Aladdin" because she loves her rendition of "A Whole New World" and wants to ride on a magic carpet someday. Makes sense to me.

Don't you dare close your eyes! GIF from "Aladdin."

Here's what I asked her next: "Did their skin color have anything to do with your choices?"

She shook her head slowly as if she wondered why that would be an actual reason to make such decisions. When I asked her why not, she said, "Because that isn't nice."

As a society, we have a long way to go in terms of achieving racial and ethnic tolerance. Heck, because of Islamophobia, some people believe we should bomb Princess Jasmine's fictional kingdom of Agrabah. You know ... just because.

My goal is to teach my daughters to be tolerant of different races, religions, sexual preferences, and anything else that makes people unique. In other words, if they choose to like someone (or not), it should be due to what's inside of that person's heart and nothing else.

3. Being "colorblind" isn't the answer. It's about noticing racial differences and embracing them.

There are well-meaning people who say: "I don't see color. I only see people." However, arguments have been made about how ignoring race can be a problem because it closes off people to the experiences of those who are different from them. I mean, it's pretty hard to empathize with someone if we think everyone experiences the same stuff, right?

That's when I asked my daughter the final set of questions. "Blue is the color of the sky during the day and black is the color at night. If colors could talk, do you think they would tell the same story about what they see when it's their turn to be the color of the sky?"

Predictably, her answer was no. But why?

"Because kids play outside when the sky is blue and they sleep when it's black." Parents know that isn't always true, but I think she knew what I was getting at.

To that point, I try to teach my daughter to be a good listener (she's 5, so that isn't all that easy). Everyone and everything — including colors — has a different story to tell. By listening to the feelings and experiences of others, we can learn more about ourselves and the world around us.

As corny as it may sound, every color has its own story. We should listen to all of them. Photo from iStock.

To answer my daughter's question — yes, I'm weird. But my skin color has nothing to do with it.

I'm a grown man who is obsessed with superheroes more than a grown man should be, I'm deathly afraid of frogs, and I don't like the taste of potatoes. In my mind, that makes me a little "out there."

We all have things that make us unique. My hope is we can create a world for our children where those things can be celebrated.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

A simple solution for all ages, really.

School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.

Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.

The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”



“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.