‘Mixed’ Is for Cake Batter, Not People

One mother criticizes the labels given to her biracial child.

Jennifer, Gage and Shane Rogers at Fenway Park (courtesy of Jennifer Rogers)

So I decide that G needs to have a response to the inevitable question, “Are you mixed?” I start by introducing the term “biracial.” We talk about the meaning, how it applies to our family, etc. Then, in a dismissive tone, I say, “Do you know that some people like to say that biracial people are mixed? Doesn’t that sound weird? You’re not a bag of nuts! You’re not brownie batter. How could you be mixed?”

G finds this hilarious. To my horror, he decides that being referred to as brownie batter is the ultimate compliment. Guess I forgot I was dealing with a 5-year-old. Hoping he’ll forget all about my epic fail, I drop the subject.

A week later.

“Hey, Mommy! I’m cake!” He is rolling laughing in the backseat.

“G! What in the world are you talking about?”

“Remember? We’re like brownies! I’m cake! I’m mix!”

Someday I’m just going to have to accept that I cannot learn things for G. I can’t protect him from everything before it happens. I can’t strangle his innocence with my own lovingly wrought anxieties. All along I’ve thought my job was to reinforce his armor before he goes into battle. Maybe I’ve had it all wrong. Maybe a mom’s job is to nurse the injuries once they occur, to refasten the hinges and tend to the vulnerable spots.

Yesterday during independent reading time, G picked up Red or Blue, I Like You, a book he’s had for ages, though we’ve never read it. Despite the adorable Elmo and Angela on the cover, it’s a really tough book for a new reader. I was so impressed that my big guy needed little help as he read aloud to me.

I smiled each time he read Elmo’s name. He still pronounces it “Emmo,” and I dare anyone to try to correct him under my watch. He was so focused on getting the words right that I was sure he really didn’t grasp what the book was about, but I had learned my lesson. I didn’t push.

Studying the picture on the last page, he smiled and pointed to the blue monster dad and pink monster mom holding a blue monster baby with pink hair. “Look, Momma! They’re biracial. Just like us!”

Jennifer Rogers is an educational consultant and freelance writer in Durham, N.C.  She chronicles her adventures in straddling the fine line between type A mom and learning specialist on TypeA Lite. Follow her on Twitter.