Water park adventures, well-behaved children, and skin color questions

The day after Thanksgiving we went to Cincinnati to visit Christian’s Grammie and his uncle. There is a great water park there, so we decided to make it a mini-vacation. We did two days and one night.

I didn’t take my camera into the water park because I didn’t want to spend $10 on a locker for it, and I was in the water with a child at almost all times anyway. Our hotel room had a “log cabin” in it for the kids, which they loved, so I did get this picture:

First, I have to say that my children were incredibly well-behaved on this trip. They shared toys, they were nice to each other, and they played well together. It was AH-MAZING. Trips like this, while fun, can also be pretty stressful, but the kids were great.

Colin sometimes wanders off or gets farther away from us than I would like. I was nervous enough about it that I bought these waterproof ID bracelets, but we didn’t even come close to needing them. (I did, however, get two compliments on them by the lifeguards. They said the bracelets were a great idea and told me that some parents just write their phone and room numbers on their kids’ arms with thick, black Sharpie.)

Colin did so well staying with us. There was a three-story water slide that Colin and Noah wanted to go on (Zoe said no way). Christian took him to the top, thinking he would be able to go down the slide with Colin, but was told the boys each had to go by themselves. He told Colin to go down and wait for him at the end of the slide, and HE DID. Over and over, he went down the slide and waited patiently at the bottom by the lifeguard for Christian. Zoe and I walked up once and saw Colin waiting there. I told him what a good job he was doing waiting for Daddy. He said, “You’re so proud of me, Mommy!”

I was also a little worried about Colin because this was the first time that he had slept in a room with us. The boy needs his sleep, so we have always managed to give him his own space when we’ve traveled. He did great though. He was actually the first one to fall asleep.

Noah was way brave. He even wanted to go on one of the larger water slides with Christian (they could go together on those). Christian was going to take him on the one that was the least steep, but accidentally got in the wrong line. They ended up going down one with a huge drop. He said Noah handled it VERY well, but he did not want to go again.

Zoe was much less of a daredevil than the boys. I can just picture us going to a theme park a couple of years from now. Christian and the boys will be riding the roller coasters while I’m trying to convince Zoe just to do the tea cups. She did eventually do some of the smaller slides and had a good time.

Zoe and I ended up hanging out in the wave pool quite a bit while the boys did the slides. At one point, there were two Asian girls, who were probably about 12, playing next to us. She kept looking at them. I finally said, “They look like you, don’t they?”

She said, “Yeah. Where are they from?”

I said, “I don’t know. Maybe they are from China or Japan, or maybe they are from Vietnam like you. Or maybe they were born in the United States and their parents, or grandparents, or great-grandparents were born somewhere else.”

She said, “Hmm.”

I asked, “Do you want to ask them?”

She didn’t say anything.

I said, “You could go up to them and say, ‘Hi. I’m Zoe.’ Then you could tell them you are from Vietnam and you could ask where they are from. Do you want to talk to them?”

“No thank you.”

About twenty minutes later, Christian and the boys came back. Noah and Zoe were sitting on a raft together. Their legs were next to each other and Zoe said, “Look, Mommy. Noah’s legs are the same color as mine.” 

I said, “Yep, you’re right. In the winter your legs are almost the same color. Your skin gets darker in the summer when you’re in the sun though. Your legs will probably look more brown than Noah’s once we spend time in the sun next summer.”

She just said, “Oh.”

Zoe has lots of friends at school, but her two best friends are probably Maya and Kelley. Kelley is Caucasian and Maya was adopted from China. They have all been in class together since before they were three (and they are a force to be reckoned with). This year there is another Asian girl named Miah in her Thursday/Friday class. I went on a field trip with them about a month ago. She pointed Miah out to me and said, “She looks like me, Mommy,” though she’s never said that about Maya. She’s also never said that about our friend Stacey or about any of our friends from Vietnam, like Aiden or Chloe. In fact, she just had a birthday party and at least a third of the kids were Asian or Caucasian/Asian, and she’s never specifically said anything about any of them. Maybe she’s just used to being around them, and is just noticing things in new people? It’s really interesting that she is suddenly talking about skin color more. We’ve always tried to be conscious of it, giving our kids the language to talk about it, but not dwelling on it.

I just hope I’m not screwing this up.

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6 thoughts on “Water park adventures, well-behaved children, and skin color questions

  1. It sounds like you are doing fine re: skin color. I think it might take them a while to process what it all means. My daughter has told me her skin is darker than mine but I don’t know if she really understands why even though we’ve discussed her adoption and that she is Vietnamese. A lot of the kids in her class are Asian and she doesn’t seem to have any particular affinity for them over anyone else. I don’t know if she’s noticed that all the other Asian kids have Asian parents. She hasn’t mentioned that yet.

  2. I’m curious about her noticing that other Asian kids have Asian parents, too (although we know quite a few who have white parents). It was really interesting to me that she asked where the Asian girls at the waterpark were from, and I wanted to be sure to point out that they might be “from” here. She knows so many kids who were born in China or Vietnam that I want to make sure she knows that not all Asian kids were born somewhere else!

    It’s tough to know where the line is in talking about differences. I want her to know that it’s OK to talk about differences and to be different, but I don’t want to stress TOO much that she is “different.”

  3. Aiden gets pretty dark in the summer but he also gets very fair in the winter. As you know, he was pretty white as a baby but his skin has gotten darker overall. Regardless, he definitely associates himself with other Asians- he looks just like me or I look like her. He is starting to notice other Asian parents at gymboree and comments that so and so’s mommy or daddy looks like him. Sometimes I say that his Vietnam mommy looks like him but I’m like you…I totally hope I’m not screwing this up.

  4. That park looks like a fun place for kids! My kids would definitely love it there, you have a beautiful family. I usually take my kids to a park near us called the Great Wolf Lodge, they love all the different slides there.

  5. Pingback: 2011 didn’t suck (or blow) | My Minivan Rocks!

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