I have no idea if I handled this right. I am upset that I even have to explain this to innocent minds in 2012.
Tiny bit of background to our family--I'm white, DH is from Sudan. He has lived most of his adult life outside of Sudan, so he has experience that I don't have being in the minority.
We live in an apt. complex. It's many buildings that form a square. The norm is that kids play outside in the square and adults check on them. I can see most of the area my kids play in from my windows. I watch more than many here who live in the back apartments and can't see the front area where the kids gather. I'll add that between my mom and I and having a toddler, my kids have an adult physically outside about 80% of the time. Which is more than most of the kids here.
Including the neighbor I'm about to mention, who is *rarely* actually outside when I see her kids out in the 'gathering area'.
My kids used to play with this neighbor's kids. They were invited to a bouncy house party and into a little pool they had last summer. I KNOW nothing happened in either place because I was there.
Last fall, this woman told my mother my son's health issues were due to his mixed race. I chalked that one up to being uneducated and making a comment without thinking.
Then last winter, someone called the cops on a visitor of theirs whose dogs got loose and were acting aggressive in the square--where many kids were playing, including mine who'd been outside all of 10 minutes at the most. This neighbor brought the cop to MY door and blamed MY kids out of the probably dozen who were outside, said they opened the door of the vehicle the dogs were in. These dogs had my kids cornered on our patio when I pulled them inside. I'm not the one who called, the police showed up while I was comforting them.
Since that day, I've told my kids they're not to go any closer to the building they live in than walking on the sidewalk that runs in front of it and they're not to so much as *look at* her kids.
Well, they're kids, and it was a nice evening tonight, so *everybody's* kids were outside. I walked something out to my van, and my daughter comes up with this neighbor kid, DD and I talk, and I head inside with stuff from the van to go in the house.
I'm inside about two minutes when my kids come crying inside saying that this kid's dad is going to call the police on them and 3 other neighbor kids. Just so happens all 5 of these children, like probably the majority in this area actually, are um, is "children of color" an OK word? I *know* my kids' ethnicity, I won't swear to anyone else's other than to say obviously non-majority race. They swear they didn't do anything, and stuck to that story even when I said it would be better for them if I heard "anything I might need to know" from THEM rather than an officer. (Older one is almost 8, he understands) In the end, no officer actually showed up.
However, I told them *again* that they are NOT to play with these children. And this is the part I don't know if I got it right, and it broke my heart to tell them...but this is what I feel the truth is in this situation. I told them it does not matter if they did anything or not, some people do not like other people simply because they are a different color. And now that we can see that these children's parents appear to hold that opinion, we need to stay away from them. I always specifically tell them that they're NOT to be mean to anyone. I mean that they are to stay away--if those kids are playing with one of their friends, they play with somebody else. If they're in a certain area playing, my kids are to play somewhere else. Avoid trouble. And if they ever run across a situation where these kids are causing problems for them anyway, they are to come home. I thought maybe I'd have to give them this education when they were old enough to "drive while black" or shop alone or something. Not at almost 6 and 8 years old, where it hasn't occured to them yet to choose their friends by any other criterion than "kids who share" and "kids who don't hit".
I HOPE that the lesson that's getting across is that there are plenty of other people to interact with in the world who are accepting and it's just not worth the time to waste on those who aren't. I just want to move. For many reasons that have nothing to do with this neighbor, because I know there will be people like them everywhere. That's why I can't blow this...they have to learn how to deal with it. It just breaks my heart that I'm already having to explain this...