As a part of a mixed race family, I have observed that often times when we speak out about our “mixed race experiences,” we relay the negative stories. Sometimes we do so to offer support to one another or to share how we handled certain situations. Perhaps we are trying to educate, or maybe we just want to vent. I am certainly guilty of telling and retelling stories about the intrusive and ignorant comments that I have received. If you would like to read one of my many mixed family rants, please check out “So are they yours or….?”
However, today I would like to share the positive. It was a minor and insignificant experience. The young man working the cash register at the Little Caesars Pizza location in South County St. Louis had no idea how his words impacted me. Nevertheless, I walked away with a sausage pizza, spicy barbecue wings, and warm fuzzies inside of me.
I will begin by explaining that many, many random people walk up to me and say, “Your girls are so cute.” Sometimes I wonder if these people really find my kids to be that stunning or perhaps they simply want a pat on the back because they think that they are so hip and socially aware to recognize that my brown-skinned children are actually my children. Of course, I prefer the “Your girls are so cute” comments over the “Are they adopted?” experiences; nevertheless, the encounters still frequently seem awkward…or forced…or just somehow weird.
But a few weeks ago at Little Caesars Pizza, it was different. I was with my four-year-old daughter, who is biracial but probably “looks black” to the untrained eye, and my eleven-year-old Chinese-American neighbor girl. We were picking up pizza while my older daughter and her best friend (the younger sister of the eleven-year-old neighbor girl) were having tennis lessons together. While waiting for the pizza, the cashier nonchalantly asked me, “Would your daughters like some cookies while you wait?”
I must repeat. He said:
“Would your daughters like some cookies?”
I apologize for being melodramatic, but I literally could have cried.
One time I went grocery shopping with both of my girls, ages 4 and 7, and our Chinese-American neighbor girls, ages 8 and 11. A random dude in the aisle looked at my crew and said, “Wow! How many kids do ya got?!” Do you think this guy would have said anything if I had brought four white children with me to the grocery store? I highly doubt it. Four kids is not an exorbitant amount of off-spring. They easily could have all been mine. The factor that was so mind-boggling to this man was the white woman with the two black children and the two Asian children.
But the Little Caesars employee saw past that. He didn’t view our trio as a white/black/asian anomaly that he needed to grapple with and resolve. He saw a mom and her daughters. Even though they were not actually both my daughters, I was so happy that he could imagine them being my daughters. “Happy” does not even appropriately describe my emotion. I was elated, overjoyed…….hopeful.
Thank you, Little Caesars guy, for giving me this experience. I needed it. I can look back on it, and I can be reminded that the world is slowly changing. Five days ago I remembered you at the Rollercade because a classmate roller-skated up to my daughter in the middle of the rink and said, “Is that your real mom?” As I hugged and reassured my crying daughter that this classmate was not intentionally being mean, I thought of you. I will hold onto my Little Caesars story and proudly tell it and retell it. I hope every mixed race family has a Little Caesars story.
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