Please, please no one be offended by this, I am just trying to make sure my son learns to be a kind, loving, accepting person--and need advice.
This is kinda long, but want you to know all the details.
The Son, Lordy I do not even know how to tell you this without it sounding so horrible--so I am just going to tell you, The Son has taken to calling African American people "Chocolate."
It started about two weeks ago, we were sitting in the car outside of Target trying to navigate our way through the parking lot. An African American Dad and his two super cute little boys were sitting on the bench out front, and The Son pointed and said "Look Mama, Look Daddy! A little chocolate boy, and anuder chocolate boy and a chocolate daddy!" The Husband and I just stared at each other trying to digest what our kid had just said, and wondering how the hell we handle this. I think I stammered something about how they had pretty brown skin that looked like chocolate, but that it was still skin just like his, and how saying that might make them feel bad. I think, I really was so stunned that I doubt it was that articulate.
I had hoped it was just a one time thing, but then just a day or too later we were curled up in my bed watching old school Sesame Street online, when Grover was having a talk about rhyming with an AA little boy. Again, "Mama! Look! He is chocolate!" Seizing the moment, I paused the video, and pulled out my arm and held it next to his. "See how our arms are not exactly the same color?" "Yes." "That is because God makes people in all different colors. We are all made up of the same stuff, just alike on the inside, but on the outside we all look different. One way we look different is what color our skin is. This little boy is just a normal little boy, his skin is just brown instead of kinda pinky white like yours. Do you understand?" "Yes." "Good. Now we can see what rhymes with toy."
The next day at Wal-Mart. "There is a Chocolate lady mama!" This time I was embarrassed and slightly mad because we had just had this discussion and he said it loud enough for people to hear.
"She is NOT chocolate, and it is naughty to say that because it would hurt her feelings if she heard. She is just a lady with skin that looks different than yours, and we do not say mean things about people." "CHOCOLATE IS NOT NAUGHTY MAMA!" I know that other people heard that, but think they thought we were talking about candy. "If you say it again you are going to time out. No warnings. "
Later the same day I heard him "reading" a book, Knuffle Bunny Too, and saying that Sonya was chocolate. AGH. How do I fix this? He does not go to school. We go to an all white church (it is hard to find a church in the south that is not segregated--sad but true.) There are a couple of bi-racial kids in our playgroup, but he has not noticed there is a difference in their skin, and I am wary of pointing it out. We really just do not have anyone in our circle right now that is black, we did but one family has moved, and another has gone back to work so we never see them, our LLL is all white--not that minorities are not totally welcome.
Is it a phase? Should I punish him? We really truly have NEVER said anything even slightly racist that he could have over heard, so I have no idea if he thinks that people a different color than him are really made of something different, or if he is just being silly. What do I need to do? Oh, he will be three 8/31