White parents with black kids barely get a glance any more – yes, not even the gay couples with their clearly adopted brood. Oh the shock horror of it back in the day... "They should stick with their own kind" and all the ignorant stereotypical bullshit that went with it! And I am sure still does.
Thank God though we have largely moved on from that – our children are our children regardless of where they come from or what the nuclear family situation is. Takes all shapes, sizes, sorts, colours to make the world go round.
So surely mixed race children shouldn’t be a thing either? Right?
Errrr... not so sure. Mixed race children, it would appear, tend to open a whole new Pandora’s box of unsolicited questions, theories, assumptions and opinions.
When I was pregnant with my son four years back – his father is white, I am not – I tended to just brush off the odd, "Oh I hope he gets the good hair" comments. And the inevitable "Oh my God, look at all that spiky hair" comments just after he was born.
Also read: "Our kids are a beautiful shade of both of us" – readers respond to Estrelita's story.
One of my oldest friends commented shortly after meeting him, "En waar kom hierdie reguit haartjies vandaan?" (where does the straight hair come from?). And "Look at those rosy cheeks, and such sharp features. Jirre dit is 'n mooi kind." (He is, I am biased of course, but he really is a beautiful kid.)
I ignored it largely, cos ag really... Not worth my stress. Our nuclear unit (myself, my son and his two doting aunts and even more doting uncle) are just fine.
Estrelita (right) and her sisters.
Hell, what mother doesn’t revel in the cuteness that is her mini-me, glorious crop of "good" hair, fair-skinned, red cheeks and all. Until a recent trip to the shops...
My sister took my son to the local shopping drag to get some weekend supplies. Yes, she of the darker skin and recently acquired brush cut, which looks just fine to me, by the way. Her hair is real natural.
He was having a day. And God knows, he can wear you down with his whine. Throw boredom and a demand for treats in the mix and it does become tricky to manage. So after the umpteenth warning, and with Luca about to fall out of the trolley, my sister tapped him on the bum.
This, of course, was all the cue the staffer needed, apparently, to add her take: "NANNIES DON’T HIT CHILDREN!!!"
Wow, talk about getting it wrong. Very wrong – and insultingly so, while you are at it.
I’m almost sure if child and minder / mom / nanny / guardian / whatever were of similar colouring or origin – or hell, there was the presence of a dad, a male figure who could explain this strange phenomenon – the response would have been different. Maybe it would have been more of the sympathetic eye-meeting/nod thing mothers have going. Or even a mild retort: "You should listen to your mommy."
But no, the nanny? Really? And don’t get me wrong here, I love our nanny – she is a magnificent human. It's not about her being called a nanny, it's that people assume they can't be family.
Not wanting to cause a scene, and clearly at her wits' end with Moaning Mini, my sister left the shop. But once home, that little outburst had clearly left its mark. And rightly so. How dare you? It is none of your business really. Sort the groceries out and keep your bigoted assumptions to yourself.
And, if I am honest, I sometimes get sideways glances too. We look a lot alike, my sisters and I. A lot. I think Luca looks like us too. He is clearly partly clan Moses. Just, well, he has straight hair and is a lighter shade of pale... He is biological, I promise.
Uniform hair and skin colour do not necessarily a nuclear family make, people.
I remember when Luca was a few months old, we walked across to the local PnP, him in a pouch on my chest. "Oh what a cute child! Such nice features... must take after the dad," one woman said to me. I was not as polite and restrained as my sister.
I did tell her where to get off.
What is the rudest thing anyone has said to you about your mixed-race child or your interracial family? Send your stories and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org for possible publication. If you'd like to remain anonymous, please state so.