Posts Tagged ‘Transracial families’

An short essay on race

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

I wrote a short essay, “A teaching moment on driving while brown,” that was published today in my local newspaper, the Marin Independent Journal. If you’re reading this, you may be able to relate. I’ve pasted the first few paragraphs here. To read the rest, click on the link.

Last Sunday evening, as I swept the kitchen floor and loaded the dishwasher, my 9-year-old son Mateo cavorted around the room, telling me about his day. My sister and her family were visiting from Boston, and we — my sister, her girls, my daughter, and I — had gone into San Francisco to shop while Mateo stayed home with my husband, to do, as my husband calls it, “guy stuff.”

After a report on fixing the drip irrigation system, Mateo regaled me with tales of their trip to the hardware store, where they bought lumber to build a rack in our basement, and stopped at the food truck to indulge their shared passion for giant hot dogs smothered in onions and ketchup.

“When Dad and I were driving home,” Mateo said, “we saw seven police cars parked on the side of the road, and a Latino man standing next to a shiny, fancy car with his wrists handcuffed behind his back. Dad said maybe the police thought the Latino man committed a crime.”


A note from Mateo

Saturday, August 23rd, 2014

One of the benefits of clearing out clutter is that stuff you forgot about resurfaces, including this letter my son Mateo wrote to me in January 2012. In it, he addresses a theme that remains ongoing: his pining for a dog. Reading Mateo’s letter helped me realize he’s wanted a dog for at least two years, a very long time in the life of a nine-year-old. Not that I’m planning to relent and get a dog. Just that Mateo’s desire is not new.

My son’s writing feels so energetic to me. His spelling and punctuation could use a copy-editor, but I love his voice.

Dear Mom,

I think Olivia an me shood get a DOG!!!!!!!!!!!

BECAUSE it will giv us xrsize.

If she didn’t want to do it I would do it for her.

Il give them a bath evry day.

If it’s a school day il do it after school.

If it’s a weekend il do it after brakefast in the morning.I’l take rely good car of the pupy.

“I promis promis promis”

Please Mommy i beg you.

yours Truly




Double dipping

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

As readers of this blog may be aware, I recently joined another, bigger blog, Adoption Under One Roof. The move was motivated by my desire to step away from my Mamalita blog, due primarily to my guilt at not keeping it up. Even when I wasn’t writing blogs, I felt I should be writing blogs. After I wrote a blog, I thought, “Could I edit this better? And does anybody really care?”

Then my mother weighed in. “What do you mean you’re at a new blog? It took me six months to get mamalitathebook on my Favorites. Do I have to take my computer into the shop to add this one? How will I keep up with news of the kids?”

So here I am. Instead of feeling guilty that I’m shortchanging one blog, I now feel guilty that I’m shortchanging two. Leave it to me to make a choice guaranteed to double my anxiety.

Or so I would have thought. Because, for reasons I don’t understand, being accountable to two blogs energizes me to want to write more for both. Or maybe it’s that I just realize that people do care–okay, one person, my mother.

What I haven’t yet figured out is how to make readers of one website aware of recent postings on the other. Example: Yesterday I posted a blog at Adoption Under One Roof that I think you might like. It’s called Tween, and is about Olivia, and her current status as one.  Here’s the first paragraph:

Overnight, my 10-year-old daughter, Olivia, is suddenly a ‘tween. The child who allowed me to shop for her clothes, dutifully wearing the boxy t-shirts and sneakers I purchased, now insists on fitted tops with her leggings, the better to go with her black flats. No backpack for this girl, either. Olivia insists on a “tote.” Tubes of lip gloss fill the bathroom shelves—neutral colors, but still—and her collection of hair ornaments has reached double digits. Her fingers and toes glitter with a rainbow of sparkly polish. I’ve never seen a person wear a scarf with such panache.



Reading in Mill Valley, CA on Thursday, August 18; and at the Wordstock Festival in Portland, OR in October

Monday, August 15th, 2011

I’ll be reading in my neighborhood this Thursday, August 18, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the O’Hanlon Center for the Arts in Mill Valley, California. The reading is part of the O’Hanlon’s “Local Women Writer Series: Readings and Conversations.” Our theme is “Hellos and Goodbyes.” Other readers are Blair Campbell, Karen Benke and Katy Butler. If you live in the Bay Area, please stop by to say hi!

Thursday, August 18, 2011, 7 to 9 p.m.

O’Hanlon Center for the Arts
616 Throckmorton Avenue, Mill Valley, CA 94941
Local Women Writers Series: Readings and Conversations
Cost: $10, $8 OHCA members
Theme — Hellos and Goodbyes. Readers — Blair Campbell, Jessica O’Dwyer, Karen Benke, Katy Butler

While I have your attention: I’m delighted to announce I was invited to the Wordstock Festival in Portland, Oregon, on a date TBA between October 7 to 9, 2011. Details to follow.



Friday, September 24th, 2010

Last week, while drawing a picture of our family, Olivia held up the marker she was using to draw me and said, “Everyone at school calls this ‘skin color,’ but it isn’t. This color is ‘peach.’” 

I’ve heard it said that children don’t notice skin color, but that has never been the experience in our family. In a very matter-of-fact way, Olivia began commenting on variations in skin color at about age three. Mateo, too. Maybe it’s because they’re such visual people and my husband and I look different from them; or maybe it’s because my husband is a dermatologist who studies, treats, and writes about the skin; or maybe it’s because our family looks different from most of the families around us. It could be due to any of those reasons, but here’s my theory: The reason my kids discuss skin color is because when the subject comes up, we don’t avoid it. For whatever reason, in our family, a conversation might sound like this: 

Olivia: “Which girl are you talking about? Does she have peach skin?”

 Mateo: “No, the other one. She’s brown like us.”

Or, Olivia: “Mom has peach skin with round spots.”

Me: “Those are freckles. ”

Mateo: “Olivia’s skin is tanner than mine. Dad’s skin has more yellow.”

 My children often identify people by skin color, with no judgment attached. They report color the same as any detail: green eyes, long hair, good at bike riding, likes to hula-hoop. Olivia and Mateo know we’re all the same on the inside. That’s one fact that doesn’t vary, and the one that counts. (more…)