An honest take on life and parenthood

Of Snowmen in July

on July 23, 2013

When I was about eight years old, we lived in a rowhouse in Bristol, Pennsylvania. There were many young families on the street, as well as a few older retired couples. Each home featured a tiny postage stamp yard in the front, trimmed with low hedges.

Bristol get the idea

Bristol rowhouse…you get the idea

One winter, it snowed heavily. The snow was several inches deep and perfect for snowballs and snowmen. My sister and I built a snowman in our front yard, decorated it with sticks and pebbles, and went inside.Snowman

It lasted all of ten minutes.

The neighborhood boys couldn’t resist the target, and quickly decimated our poor little snowman by pelting it with snowballs, leaving it as an unrecognizable heap.

The destruction made me angry and sad, and I wished that we lived somewhere else. My sister and I never made another snowman in the front yard again.

As an adult, I realize that some boys would have never touched the snowman. And then there are other boys, who gleefully look for things to wreck. The combination of fresh snow and a great target was too much for these little thugs to resist.

Sometimes I look at my Pooh and think of that snowman. This uninhibited little girl revels in picking out her own mismatched clothes, wearing a red mirrorwork dress from India, or donning a traditional white Mexican cotton dress with ribbons in red and green. She feels pleased and pretty in the clothing she chooses, and enjoys showing it off.

photo3 20130614_174049

Who will leave her be? Who will pelt her with snowballs? How can I protect my girl, my snowbaby born during a blizzard in February, from thugs?

I also think about the touchy topic of her Mexican heritage. I am teaching her basic Spanish, and I am constantly reinforcing positive ideas around Mexico and Latin culture. We snuggle together and read  books about Frida Kahlo and St. Martin de Porres of Peru and romantic folktales from all over Latin America, all of which she loves. We listen to children’s songs in Spanish in the car, and we talk about the meaning of each song and sing and laugh together.

When she is a little older, I plan to take her to Mexico to meet my father’s side of the family, so that she experiences the warmth and beauty of the culture, and embraces it as part of her identity.

The Pooh is about two thirds Italian and a quarter Mexican, with the rest a mishmash of Norwegian and lord only knows what else. She doesn’t look ethnic per se, and she is being raised in a mainstream American household. Her name, appearance and demeanor will shield her from overt racism, just as it does for me, since I do not look stereotypically Mexican either.

That said, there will come a day when someone will say something ugly about Mexicans or Latinos in front of her. She will read it or hear it in the media. Someone will say something nasty in school or in the workplace. It’s inevitable. I can only hope that all of the work I am doing now will inoculate her to the racism she will encounter.

I hope she steps on it and rubs it out with her little pink shoe, just like she quashes the army ants she finds in the backyard.

If I am being realistic, I know that she will probably regard her Mexican heritage as a slightly exotic and curious fact that affects her little. It will not be as important to her as it is to me, but if I invest the time now, I hope that she ends up being as proud of it as she will be of her Italian side.

She will wear what she likes, how she likes, and never apologize for who she is or where she came from.

Take that, thugs.

One response to “Of Snowmen in July

  1. momsasaurus says:

    Well done, mama. Well done.


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