What’s in the color

My little boy is getting bigger. He is almost four but sometimes the things he says make me stop in my tracks and wonder if I should start taking him more seriously and treat him like an older kid.

Just the other day, I told him that a friend of mine would be visiting us for dinner. His first question was: “Is your friend like this (touching my face) or like this (touching his own face)?”. The question came as a little surprise to me because he has never asked anything like this before. So this is how the conversation went.

Me: Are you trying to ask if my friend is a boy or a girl?
Viv: No! I’m asking if she is like this or like this (repeating the gesture).
Me: What do you mean by that?
Viv: I’m talking about color.
Me (thinking WHAT THE !?@! and trying to come up with the right answer): It doesn’t matter what color she is, because everyone is the same from the inside.
Viv: But I’m talking about her face!

Luckily for me, he got distracted by something else because I would have hated to answer that question. For some reason, I find it hard to use colors to describe people. It is just weird calling someone white or black or brown. I would rather use nationality or race because I think using skin color to identify someone undermines everything else that they are and brings the focus on just one thing – the color of their skin.

Anyway, just a day later, we had to visit another friend and I was telling him about it when he asked “does your friend speak Hindi?”. Chetan and I gave each other a WOW look, sharing the same feeling, that our little boy is growing up. Maybe, after this recent trip to India, he has realized that the people around him are diverse, that he is different from others, or that his parents are different from others (hence the question: is she like you or like me!).

Whatever it is that goes through his head, it is probably the start of a confusing, but interesting journey for him. In the meantime, we can take comfort in the fact that it is still a while before he will start getting embarrassed by his parents’ accent, and enjoy every moment of growing up with him!