Since the day she was born I have dreaded Biscuit’s first “from the mouths of babes” moment. You know, when they repeat something they heard at home that was not intended for anyone else to hear. (“Mommy says Uncle Mike is a deadbeat.”) Or maybe they share a too personal piece of information. (“Daddy only likes the toilet paper with the lotion in it!”) I’ve been very cautious about what we say around her, and I frequently remind Insurance Boss that words like “douche bag” can be repeated after only a single introduction. So we were completely caught off guard when her first act of mortification was something she came up with all on her own.
Biscuit is a very social little girl and will talk to just about anyone, including the pizza delivery man. In fact, every time we order a pizza she runs to the door and comes up with something, no matter how insignificant, to tell her unsuspecting victim. Fortunately, they are usually good sports and respond with an encouraging, “Wow, that’s so cool!” So the other night when the doorbell rang, she came running right behind me. She stepped into the doorway, looked up at the delivery man, and excitedly exclaimed,
“I found a new show, see! It has the black guy!”
She was pointing at the TV screen where she had just turned on a game show for kids, who’s host was – you guessed it – a black guy. From this statement, it was obvious that the “black guy” was a major point of interest for her. It was a defining characteristic of the show and how she’d chosen to name it, since she hadn’t caught the show’s actual name. It sounded as if this “black guy” were a new, rare, fascinating species she had never encountered before.
The delivery man’s response was silent, open-mouthed, and wide-eyed. I froze, embarrassed and bewildered. I had never heard her refer to anyone that way. What I love about her pure, literal, 3-year-old view of the world is that people are just people. She sees things exactly as they are with no learned biases or nuances. I was certain that if I had pointed to any human being and said that person was “black”, she would have corrected me immediately and said their skin was brown or pink or even gray. So where the hell did this come from?
I could feel the blood rushing to my face, and I blurted out some mumbling, fumbling garbage like, “I don’t think she meant – that – like that – I…” In order to avoid making a big deal out of what she’d just said (at least not yet), I calmly looked down at Biscuit, assumed ignorance, and said, “The black guy? What do you mean? Show me.” Instead of pointing at the face of the host on the TV screen, she grabbed the Apple TV remote, hit the Menu button, and pointed at the show’s icon.
There it was: a human figure that was, literally, black.