When you become a parent, you read all of the books and manuals on how to do everything right. You take childbirth and parenting classes. The first couple of years you spend mostly in a sleep-deprived state and you get by, adjusting to your new life as “parents”. Then your child becomes of preschool age and it feels as if you are starting all over again. They ask questions that you have no idea how to even begin to answer. Questions that have much larger answers than a three or four year old could ever begin to comprehend.
As the mother of two inquisitive children, I am constantly put on the spot. They want answers right away and do not stop until they get the answer. The thing about children is they want literal answers. It’s either black or white, there is no grey area. This past September, my son started Kindergarten. The school he attends has a very multicultural community. As parents, it just never even dawned on my husband and I that we needed to start discussing diversity with our children this young. For both of us, it wasn’t until we were well into our adult years in our perspective careers that diversity training became a daily occurrence.
You can imagine how side swiped we were when we asked my son how school was and did he make any friends. His response? “No, because everyone is Spanish.” We didn’t understand at first. Your first response as a parent, has to be very thought out, yet you have very little time to give that response. How do I give a diversity lesson that I have had over thirty years to understand in just a few short descriptive words to a six year old? We simply could not ignore this issue either. Ignoring it would be reinforcing the fact that we could not have multicultural friends. Then we put ourselves in his shoes. Everyone was different. Different is scary and because most of the kids were different from him, there was no way they could be his friend.
How do you teach a child to look beyond the surface & see that deep down we are all the same? We incorporated some age-appropriate lessons into our daily routine and conversation:
- M & M’s – While there are 5 different colors of our favorite chocolates, inside they are all the same.
- Crayons – When coloring, we need to use crayons of many different colors in order to complete our picture.
- Multicultural scavenger hunt – We talked about the different people we met in our travels and the positive qualities that we saw in them.
- Sesame Street
Yes, Sesame Street. Sesame Street always seems to be there for me to say the things I just can’t seem to put into words. When my son was just barely 3, my military husband deployed on a mission, the Talk, Listen, Connect series saved the day. When Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey in October 2012, Sesame Street was there to comfort my children in the storm’s aftermath. In February 2015, Sesame Street Live: Make A New Friend will be showing at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City from February 19th through March 1st. It’s only fitting this show will be performed in one of the most diverse cities in the world.
About the Show:
No matter where you’re from or where you’ve been, everyone is special – so join in! Elmo, Grover, Abby Cadabby, and their Sesame Street friends welcome Chamki, Grover’s friend from India, to Sesame Street. Together, they explore the universal fun of friendship and celebrate cultural similarities, from singing and dancing, to sharing cookies! Join the fun and make a memory with your friends and family!
You can learn more about the show and how to get tickets here! Use code DIGEST and save up to 35%*
*Valid on select seats and performances.
While my son has opened up and is starting to make new friends at school, I can’t wait to continue this conversation with him and explore the multiculturalism all around us.
About the Author/s
After fumbling through the first few years of motherhood, Reesa found it her passion to enlighten fellow parents on how to take time to enjoy their lives and take the stress out of parenthood. As a native of Monmouth County, now living in Mercer County, she enjoys finding new places in the Garden State to explore. You can find her family-friendly blog at Momma Lew.