I didn’t expect my son, who is 2 years and 10 months old to notice things like skin colour and different types of hair from such an early age. I guess, since his parents look different, I’m of Indian descent and Dad’s English but of Irish descent, he might have been a bit more aware of it than other toddlers.
He first made a comment about my skin colour when he was two and a half and I was stilling next to him in his playpen. He said, ‘Mummy your skin is like chocolate’, and then proceeded to try and bite my lower leg. After swiftly moving and telling him not to bite, I responded with, ‘Is Daddy’s skin, like milky bar buttons?’ which got a cheeky, ‘Yes’, from the boy.
Since then he’s commented on my skin colour again, a bit less favourably this time. He was watching me use the toilet (standard toddler behaviour) and told me, ‘Mummy your muddy, poor mummy.’ So I had to explain to him that I’m not muddy, just brown and there’s nothing wrong with that. Although, I did find his comment unsettling, is he already thinking brown skin isn’t as nice or as clean as white skin?
He’s also noticed a man’s Afro hair recently on a trip on the train and was surprised by the man’s big hair, which he vocalised. Cue another brief explanation that hair comes in lots of different colours and styles and not everybody looks the same as each other.
We don’t live in the most diverse of areas anymore but it’s made me realise how important it is for my son to see a mixture of people from different ethnicities and ask me questions about it if he’s curious. I won’t try and silence him, I want him to ask me so I can try and explain and hopefully bring him up understanding to treat everyone the same and not judge people by their skin or hair colour.