A couple of days ago Ryan and I were alone in the car. Aaron’s school starts 20 minutes earlier than Ryan’s, so we drop Aaron off first. Ryan climbed in the car, buckled in, and declared, “Mom can we chat.” I smiled and replied, “of course”. He then asked me about a store across the street from the preschool. I asked him which one. He said the one with a picture of a sun and it has the word tan on the sign. I explained to him what a tanning salon was and how tanning salons are not good for your skin and as a red head he had a greater risk of getting cancer.
He thought for a minute and asked, does my friend K have dark skin because he went to a tanning store. I replied that K’s ancestors came from a very hot, sunny country, probably in Africa. I told Ryan his ancestors were most likely all from a country that was in the north, that had limited sunlight, and people had to wear a lot of clothes. He then asked how did K’s ancestors get to America. I paused, knowing this was a teaching moment. I went on with, I was not certain because I didn’t know K’s heritage, but many people from Africa were forced to move to America and were treated very badly by some terrible people. Ryan’s eyes widened. He quietly asked was someone mean to K? I replied no, probably not to K, but possibly to K’s great grandfather. Ryan got quiet again and thought. He then said, no one will be mean to my friend K. If they are mean to him I will help and be on his side.
As I dropped him off at school I had to hug the stuffing out of him. What a totally cool kid I have in my life.