As mentioned here a couple of weeks ago, I took the kids solo to Indianapolis for a wedding while Toy Warden took a little break at home. On our way back, we stopped at a Mcdonald’s where I called Toy Warden to update the progress of our trip. I started talking about what we did at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum when Lily interjected loudly “Rose carried the black baby everywhere! Rose loves the black baby!”
Now I am generally comfortable using the term “black” when describing someone of African descent and I’m told it’s a perfectly acceptable term. Somehow, though, referring to a baby doll as black and having a four-year-old shout it out in public seemed a bit inappropriate. Yet I found it pretty funny at the same time. Anyways, the following is the story of Rose and the black baby.
When we were planning our trip I was real excited not just about the wedding, but also the world famous Indianapolis Children’s Museum about which I had heard such great things. The wedding was great, but the museum was largely a disappointment especially at the beginning. All I saw was educational exhibits for things like trains, dinosaurs and world cultures. Frankly, I wasn’t interested in any of that stuff. I came there to have fun, not to learn about stuff. Somehow though the girls kept migrating to these educational exhibits, the last being “The Power of Children” Normally I’m passionate about fair treatment of everyone and fighting discrimination, but I didn’t shell out $42.50 to learn about the Holocaust, racism and children with AIDS. The kids though didn’t want to leave. They spent about 30 minutes putting together puzzles of children from diverse racial backgrounds and coloring bookmarks at a table of books about Anne Frank, Ruby Bridges, and Ryan White.
Certainly these were courageous and important children in history, but I had had enough. All of this stuff we can do at home. So I called Toy Warden. “Where the hell is all the fun stuff? I have had enough of this educational crap!” She suggested we try “Playscape.”
So I somehow finally managed to get the girls out of “The Power of Children” and into “Playscape.” They spent some time at the water table and the sand box before discovering the black baby at the pretend kitchen. Lily and Rose spent a good twenty minutes feeding this baby with everything the kitchen had to offer. Once again I got impatient because we already have this kind of stuff at home. Lily moved on and enjoyed other parts of Playscape, but Rose stayed with the baby. Another kid stopped by with this white/perhaps half-Asian baby and wanted to use the highchair, but Rose insisted that it was her baby’s highchair and wouldn’t allow it.
Eventually Rose did move on and took the black baby everywhere. Down the Slide.
Despite Rose feeding the baby everything in the kitchen earlier, she returned in shock that a different white baby had taken her baby’s spot on the high chair.
So naturally Rose throws out this other baby and puts her baby in her rightful place in the high chair.
I worried that we wouldn’t be able to leave the baby there without a major tantrum. I thought about asking if there was a way to buy the baby from the museum, but much to my surprise we were able to leave without incident.
I called Toy Warden and told her about how Rose carried a black baby everywhere and how she dumped the white baby out of the high chair. So Lily didn’t actually come up with term “black baby” on her own. That was from me.
Personally, I thought the whole episode was pretty awesome. I usually scoff at people who say “I don’t see race” because you know, of course they do. However, it appears that Rose really didn’t see race, so perhaps it is possible. It also may be that she actually preferred that baby because it was black, and that would be fine with me too. The fact that I bothered to note that this was a black baby perhaps reveals my own subconscious racism where white is normal or ideal even though I am Asian. I know if Rose was playing with a white baby I wouldn’t have called it a “white baby”. I would have just called it a baby. Perhaps I should have paid more attention at “The Power of Children” exhibit and maybe Rose did learn something there about loving and treating everyone the same. I hope she doesn’t forget.
My husband Dr. Toy Warden has a hilarious blog about his organic chemistry student evaluations over at Beratemyprofessor.blogspot.com.