Shame and Shushing

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A few months ago our family hung out with a new family for the day. About an hour into our time together, Ana called out to get my attention… “Mom!” The eight-year-old-ish son of the people we were with was startled and confused. “Wait,” he said, perplexed, “You’re her mom?” He paused. “Why is she… Indian?” His mother’s mouth dropped wide open. She looked HORRIFIED. She tried to shush him but not be obvious with her shushing.
Aside from him being oceans off on our daughter’s ethnicity, I was unfazed. “She was adopted,” I told him. His mother remained uncomfortable and continued her not-so-covert attempts at getting him to shut his cake-hole.

Our daughter just kinda watched it unfold. …… Last month we took our family to the homeless shelter to help serve dinner. Please note that I said HOMELESS shelter. More than the actual serving I was hoping our kids’ eyes would be open to different people, different ways of life, options for how to love well, etc.. Well our little chatter box @solanagilbertadventures made herself right at home there. She plopped down with a bowl of stew at a table with the men and started asking easy questions. “Why don’t you have a house?” was her intro.

I felt an unstoppable urge to shush her or chime in. “Well they might have houses,” I said to her. (Um, what?) I looked at the guys. They ignored me and carried on, telling our daughter how they hunker down in sleeping bags and then roll themselves up in tarps to stay warm during freezing nights. …….. I’ve seen situations like this unfold, and also been the shushing mom, anytime kids get near anyone with a disability. “Mom, why is that boy in a wheelchair?” “Mom, why is that man missing an arm?” “Shhhh.” As if the person with one arm is unaware of their situation. ………. I think it’s so curious how we assign shame to other people where shame does not, and need not, exist……….

Thoughts for the day. I love the girl in this picture something so fierce. There’s no shame in her game. Can we all stop the shushing?

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