About Me

My little button

Our Little Tongginator

Blog Archive

Design by

Weaksauce Blogs
Friday, February 26, 2010

I Still Heart Her

I know many of y'all are waiting to hear how Ms. Confetti dealt with the email I sent her two days ago. Well, suffice it to say that I STILL adore the Tongginator's kindergarten teacher. She responded, which - I'm sad to say - is half the battle. And I think she did a fairly good job navigating the situation.

I'll tell you more in a bit, but first I wanted to point y'all to two sites. The first is Kristen's post from yesterday, little bigots at basketball, which covers so much of how I felt while I held the Tongginator as she cried. And how I felt when I called Tonggu Grammy, desperately asking for her help in crafting my email and wondering if I over-reacted.

The second site touches on the very topic I struggled with so much yesterday: how much do I share about the Tongginator's experience, especially when I know the information will be helpful to other parents who adopted transracially, except it's mostly the Tongginator's story and not mine? If this is a topic near and dear to your heart - as it is to me - please consider voting for the Adoption, Infertility and Loss: How much do you share online? Room Of Your Own break-out session to be presented at BlogHer '10 in NYC in August.

As for the school response to my Chinese Food Email, Ms. Confetti read the email several hours after I sent it because - ya know - she's teaching in the classroom. With no assistant. And she seemed properly concerned about the Tongginator, especially since there was a substitute teacher on the day it happened, so Ms. Confetti didn't know if the taunting continued onto the playground or in the classroom later that day. (It didn't.) AND because the Tongginator seemed very out-of-sorts yesterday, even going so far as to create this little gem during morning work time:

Morning Work: How are you feeling today and
why? "I feel sad because I miss my mommy."


Ms. Confetti actually called the Tongginator out of art class yesterday afternoon to talk with her about the situation. Then she called M1 and M2 (not in any way related to M3 ... I mean, in case you wondered about that) out of art class as well. Ms. Confetti prompted the Tongginator to share how she felt about the lunchroom incident, then asked the girls their version of the events.

Thankfully, they told the truth. And it lined up with the Tongginator's version of events almost exactly.

Mrs. Confetti then helped the girls talk it out, with both M1 and M2 required to apologize to the Tongginator for saying what they said. And that was it. Which I actually think is appropriate, given that the girls are just five- and six-years-old and exploring the boundaries of power and friendship and differences and manners. And because - having been a teacher myself - I know what a HUGE DEAL it is to young elementary school students to be PULLED OUT OF CLASS to talk with a teacher. It was a good teaching moment for everyone, including the Tongginator, who learned that it's okay to speak up and that those types of comments are NOT acceptable.

Now if these girls had been six or seven years older... WATCH OUT.

Because, believe you me, you do NOT want to make Tonggu Momma angry.

(Remember the - ahem - shoe throwing incident?)

Do I think that Ms. Confetti actually got the racial undertones of the entire incident? Actually... I don't... not fully, anyway. Then again, even I don't believe that M1 or M2 intended to racially taunt the Tongginator. In fact, if all they had said was that the Tongginator's food looked like throw-up, I probably would have comforted the Tongginator and walked her through responses if it happened again, but I would not have contacted her teacher. But M1 and M2 didn't say just that... they said that it "was Chinese food and it looked like throw-up." And therein lay the difference.

(especially since it wasn't even Chinese food... it was homemade hash browns... and, although they are a healthier version, with equal parts shredded potato, carrots and zucchini, they pretty much look like hash browns that you can purchase at McDonalds)

Now... that doesn't mean I think these two little gals are racist. Because, goodness, y'all, they're in KINDERGARTEN. I believe that they saw food that looked different (code for "wasn't a sandwich") and they decided it looked weird and, therefore, like throw-up. And I believe they didn't have a reference for that "different" food, so they assumed that the Tongginator ate it because she was born in China, which is also "different" from them.

End of story.

Except that doesn't mean it wasn't unintentionally racist: her food was "different" and she is "different" because she was born in China; therefore, the food must be "Chinese food." And yes, the Tongginator told the girls it wasn't Chinese food, but they argued with her and insisted that it was. Regardless, even if you personally don't feel that falls into the category of racism, the Tongginator FELT that it did, even though she didn't have the vocabulary to accurately label it. (All I did was provide the word... she described the feelings perfectly.) I don't know that Ms. Confetti fully got that.

Then again, five or ten years ago, I don't think I would have gotten it either.

You see the world through new eyes when racism directly effects a loved one.

I'm still okay with her teacher's response though. Because Ms. Confetti addressed the comments and the hurt feelings. And, having been a teacher, I know she wrote letters home to the other parents because she didn't simply talk to the girls, she pulled them out of class to do so. And the racial aspects of the comment didn't go ignored because I addressed the racism. And the Tongginator felt heard and empowered and is happy again to go to school. AND she's decided she's gonna eat those hash browns even if other people think it looks like throw up.

So there to them.

25 comments:

Aunt LoLo said...

I think all three of you handled it very well. I also think you handled yesterday's comments well - there were 37 of us that left comments, ranging from "Oh, your poor baby!" to "What?! Where's the racism???" And thus...the beauty of an online forum.

The point is that Miss T felt singled out BECAUSE OF BEING CHINESE, and therein lies the problem. 5 is as good an age as any to learn social boundaries!

Rhonda said...

Sorry I haven't commented lately. I just got caught up on this incident and I think you all (or is it y'all?) handled it wonderfully. I think it's fantastic that your daughter spoke her mind and that you took the ball and ran with it (so to speak). It's what any parent should do.

I'm so glad that I have your blog to read and the experiences that you share with all of us (the good, the bad and the sometimes very ugly)...it's reason #83743 why I luv ya.

Elizabeth@Romans8:15 said...

I don't know what else to say but that I am glad that everything was handled well. I am so glad to see examples of people going through this stuff. It will help me build up the strength for when it inevitably affects our family. Thanks for being an example I WILL remember.

Dawn said...

I think you handled it well and I'm glad T felt so, too, and is ready to move on.

Whew. (For now...)

I'm sorry to report that you'll add "mean girl" syndrome to the mix in the next few years. We've found jr. high to be brutal in that area. And, in my experience, I've found that where there's a mean girl, there's often (but not always) a mean mom. Sad.

Be blessed!

Sherri said...

HASH BROWNS??????????????? THEY HADN'T SEEN HAS BROWNS BEFORE?


Someone needs to bring those kids down south ASAP. We'll show them some grits, too.

I think you handled the situation just fine, and it sounds like Mrs. Confetti did, too. And your sweet girl misses you when she's at school. Can it get any better??

Marla said...

Wowsa, I'm way behind here so I just caught up! I think you, The Tongginator and Miss Confetti all handled this beautifully. The best part is that the Tongginator is learning that she doesn't just have to take this kind of thing in stride. Yes, she's going to get teased again (if not for food, then something else), but teaching our girls to be confident and stand up for themselves starts now and is going to help them cope with what is coming in the future. We can't keep kids from teasing them, but we can sure as heck teach them how and when to respond. Bravo, TM! :)

Elizabeth Channel said...

I think it's a blessing (in a weird sort of way) that she got to deal with this at age 5 with age 5 girls instead of a year or two later when the situation would have been more snarky. She has a good base on how to deal with this kind of situation now and it will help her in first and second grade when the politics, as I am learning, become further complicated.

bbmomof2boys said...

Ms. Confetti did okay. Don't know if pulling them out of class was such a good idea. Girls can be so mean at this age and the taunting might continue now that she DID get pulled out of class. Then again, they are just in Kindergarten...

Either way, T has realized that speaking up is a good thing and that's the important part. She's learning that its okay to be different and she's learning how to handle different situations.

Bravo TM!

Hugs,
Carla

Myrnie said...

It sounds like everyone handled this very well, and I am very sorry if I was out of line yesterday :(

Dita said...

Of course you still heart her TM, you know she adores your girl. I think her response was swift and appropriate.

I feel for her in that she needed to find a medium between all 3 girls within the confines of school code and her own moral code. I think she passed the test and whether she got the whole racism point or not (I wouldn't be so sure she didn't) her response was one pebble in the path that the Tongginator will walk in her lifetime...but one that is part of the whole...cultivating action in her instead of paralyzing her with fear.

And you, Mama Bear.......you just keep on doing what you do 'cause you do it better than anyone I know (you and Tonggu Grammy make one tough tag team!)!

Hugs,
Dita

Lisa said...

I'm so glad you shared this today and so relieved that it was handled with such care and diligance by Miss C.

I think it highlights the necessity for a "team" approach at times when it comes to these precious kiddos....all children!

Hopefully this swift response will teach M1 & M2 a bit of social grace and acceptable boundaries ~ if it happens again(gosh, I hope not), she(TG) will be better empowered to address it.

Her morning work was heartbreaking.........but also should make your heart soar a bit that you can be her port in the storm!

Happy weekend!

Janet said...

Oh, I totally get that one paragraph about the girls not necessarily meaning to be racist, but being racist nonetheless. I have to admit, when kids stare at Adam and Jeane, I feel offended. I feel like saying, "Hey! Quit looking at my kids!" Instead, I just shield them, if I can, or we walk away. We come from a predominantly Caucasian community and people do notice them. I have come to the point where i really wish they wouldn't, you know? But then, I have also come to the point where I make an effort not to look at anyone who is different (fat, thin, green, alien, whatever.) because PEOPLE NOTICE those little looks. THey TOTALLY know people are looking. Sigh.

It makes my stomach roil inside to think of people treating A and J differently because of their race. And makes me feel distinctly inadequate at dealing with it.

Lisa (Briana's Mom) said...

I think everything was handled correctly all the way around. I feel so bad that T got so upset, but in the end, I think it was a good learning experience for those two little girls - and for T too.

I know all of this will come up eventually when Bri gets older - when kids get a little meaner and Bri can share more with me. I hope I can handle it ok...

The Drinkwaters said...

I am so glad the situation was resolved quickly with her classmates.

I think it is so important that you listened to your daughter’s feelings and didn’t brush them aside. I also liked how you asked her about how/if you should become involved in the situation. I think this lays the foundation for an open communication between you two for future incidents (that are sure to arise).

How is your daughter feeling several days after the incident?

LucisMomma said...

Everyone did well--(well, except the two kids in the first place!)--love how you and Ms. C spoke up about it.

Don't assume that the little girls "goodness, y'all, they're in Kindergarten..." don't really feel what they are saying. When I was teaching K in Louisiana, way back when (1985), one of my students would NOT get on a piece of really fun playground equipment because "those two ____ girls are on there!" My jaw dropped. She had heard that at home, and wow, she did not like anyone who was not white.

Thanks for the blog about the kids playing basket ball. You always give me lots to think about.

Half Gaelic, Half Garlic! said...

I am glad that Mrs. C addressed and handled the situation....sounds like she did a great job too!!

As others have said, this was a good learning experience for both you and The Tongginator, because unfortunately, you may be faced with other situations much like this.

Hugs to you both.... I know it has been a tough week.

xo,

Lisa

Sheri said...

Today I plopped down $1400 for my two to stay in their private school. It hurt, trust me! The amount of $$, I, a single working parent, spend on school and childcare annually is higher than the national poverty level. On the other hand - my kids, in K and 1st, have yet to experience racism (to my knowledge). And - therein lies my rationale. They're in a safe environment: nurtured, cared for, LOVED. By people who speak grammatically correct English. And they're there with other kids whose parents sacrifice to keep them in a protected environment, where learning comes first, followed by morals and mores. But, dang, it's painful to say: No, sorry, we can't afford to go to DisneyWorld like all your friends, because I think your everyday life is more important than a week of vacation in Florida!!

Sharie said...

This makes me so sad...to think of Little T so upset that she would write the words expressing it.

We've faced it; we'll face it again. Right now Amelia is in a really unique situation (at least in our city) she goes to school in a classroom where every child looks different; where there are all types of families. I'm terrified about Kindergarten. Looking around the cafeteria at Kindergarten round-up and seeing a major lack of diversity - I can only hope that the children are as loving and accepting as those Amelia has been with for the last 3years and that if we do have an issue Amelia and I will handle it as well as you and Miss T did.

M3 said...

Ok, first of all, you guys did a good job. But second, this stuff scares the crap out of me because you always seem to know what to do and how to handle it so gracefully and I am anything but graceful in these situations. The exact opposite of graceful -- blundering, overemotional, shy, overreacting... ugh I could go on and on. Is it stupid to hope that by reading blogs like this I can learn to be a little more graceful when this stuff comes up?

Donna said...

Sounds like a relatively happy ending!

Thanks for explaining what it was that she was eating. It is key that it wasn't Chinese food but the kids saw it as different and assumed that if it was different AND weird and that it must be Chinese because T is Chinese. Gotta give them credit for connecting all of those dots even if they connected them in a misguided way!

I read about the hash browns and my heart sank because then I knew what the kids were up to. I really wish it was something legitimate because that might have been easier to explain to your wounded baby girl. I'm so sorry she was teased and that she was hurt. I hope M1 and M2 remember this forever and are much more sensitive about making other kids feel isolated.

The hash browns sound really good though! :)

Donna
Our Blog: Double Happiness!

Alyson and Ford said...

Ditto to the other comments.
Thank you for sharing; it helps us grow into the role we must lead/be. I always learn from your wisdom; sharing the story and the outcome and, importantly the long term responsibilities we have, is a blessing to us not far behind you.

Alyzabeth's Mommy

Anonymous said...

Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

Alece said...

i don't really know what to say.

sigh...

can i just give you a hug?

Georgia Peach said...

Grrr...That makes me sad that little T was sad. Why is homogeneity so alluring? Is it something we learn? Can we unlearn it? Big Hugs to you TM and to Tongginator.

Patty O. said...

I think you all handled this well too. I agree that since T felt like she was singled out because of her race, then it was racism. Whether it was intended or not and whether others agree with that is all besides the point, really, because T's feelings are not wrong.

I think the best thing of all this is that T learned that her feelings are valid and that she can speak up and make things better. Because really, we probably all say and do things sometimes that come off as hurtful, prejudiced or even racist. The question is, do we apologize and change when given the chance? And the only way people will change and be more aware is if we respectfully speak up, I think.