“Are these your kids?”

When my husband and I got married and started talking about having kids, I didn’t think too much about what our kids would look like. Being in a biracial relationship comes with a lot of external opinions. Those around us were thinking about our future kids enough for us. “Your kids are going to be so cute!” was a common phrase. I brushed off the comments of physical attribute and began being more concerned with raising a biracial child in this racially complicated world.

I tried preparing myself by reading autobiographies of biracial people like Barack Obama, Soledad O’Brien, and Trevor Noah. But similar to any child-birthing book, nothing can really prepare you for the situations you’ll encounter until they actually happen. With the birth of both our children, we instantly fell in love with everything about them. Our son looked like a tiny little old man as a newborn, and our daughter had eyelashes for days — so much so my doctor commented on them before the umbilical cord was cut, haha. They both also have very fair skin.

I read an article (prior to becoming a mom) about a mother of a biracial child who was mistaken as the child’s nanny in a park on the Upper East or West side of Manhattan. Now looking at my own fair-skinned kids, I began to dread the day that someone might say, “You interact so well with them, you’re so affectionate,” which is how the culprit addressed the mistaken “nanny-mom” in the article. When the moment did come however, it wasn’t from a potential client and it didn’t happen until recently when walking with my now 4 and 2-year-olds.

It came from an actual childcare provider. She approached me, eager to ask a question, but as she came closer there was a distinct pause and curiosity in her eyes. She asked, “Are these your kids?” I calmly nodded and said, “Yes,” and I could see her embarrassment right away. She began apologizing and explained she thought I was their nanny and wanted to ask how I acquired new business.

Almost on queue (as most kids are) my son who was riding his scooter just a couple paces ahead doubled back and asked the woman, “What are you talking to my mommy about?” She kindly answered him by saying, “I just had a question for your mom and she was kind enough to answer it for me.” We shared a cordial “OK, bye” and went our separate ways. I may have dodged the avalanche of questions that my 4-year-old could have presented if he’d heard the woman ask me if he was my son, but it is a situation we may encounter again. I now know I’ll be ready to have an honest and engaging conversation with my kids on how they are a perfect combination of both me and their dad.

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