Monday, October 15, 2007

my racist friend

(For those who aren't familiar, the fairly inaccurate title of this post is an allusion to a They Might Be Giants song.)

So, last night we were in Barnes & Noble. We almost never actually buy anything there, but Ian likes to play with the train table in the kids' section, and it can be a good place to see what's new or interesting, so we can get it from the library. (Julie was flipping through a book of Mother Teresa's writings, which surprised me. On the way in, I got sidetracked by a book called The Year of Living Biblically, in which an editor for Esquire spends a year taking the Bible as literally as he possibly can.) At one point, I was supervising the kids, while Julie was browsing, and another kid came over with his mother to play at the train table. Ian kept me busy enough by pushing his way around the track, regardless of who got in his way. Eventually, they seem to have worked out a system--the younger boy, who wasn't as intent on actually making his trains travel a full circuit, would step out of the way whenever Ian passed by. When he didn't, Ian would stop and wait impatiently, but at least he stopped. (Sometimes, with a kid his age, that's about as much as you can hope for.)

Anyway, at one point they got into a conversation. I wasn't paying much attention until I heard Ian protest, "Don't say it in Spanish; you have to talk like me!" I was relieved to see the other kid's mother laugh at the remark. I don't think he meant it to be offensive, though it could have been taken that way (unreasonably, I would think, when it's coming from a four-year-old). I might have been a bit more concerned about what led him to say it, except that earlier that evening when we were playing hide-and-seek he'd yelled at me for counting in Spanish (and Japanese). Just one of those things, I guess. This is the same kid, after all, who freaked out when Julie moved the new shoe rack from where it had been sitting temporarily in the dining room to its rightful home by the door. He gets something in his head, and anything else really bugs him. At least he knew enough not to call it "Mexican" . . .

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