Picking up my daughter from Catholic school a couple of days ago, I looked in her folder and was ready to compliment her on her artwork when another parent saw this:
He is a new parent to the school and frankly not my type of person. He looked at the picture, said in a slightly hushed voice to me, "Adam and Eve were black?" He grimaced a bit like it was something a bit odd, glanced at my daughters kindergarten teacher and walked away.
His tone and expression told me he thought one of the following: "What are they teaching kids here?!", "Adam and Eve were white, not black!", or "Your daughter is weird".
I waited until we got home. My two daughters had overheard him and seen his expression and I did not want some random person having more influence over my daughters view of life than I do.
I opened the folder at home and beamed at all her work. Everything had a smile stamp or this "very Nice!" sticker on it and was done perfectly. I complimented her on each piece and she smiled proudly.
I held this art in my hands last. I asked her, "Sweetie, I love the way you colored in the lines and used your crayons to really make this picture look realistic. Can I ask you a question?"
She nodded. "Sure, Mamo."
"Why did you color in Adam and Ewa (Eve in Polish) black? It's not wrong, I'm just curious."
She glanced at it, shrugged and said, "That's the skin color crayon that I found."
I nodded and said, "And you coloring in their skin color as black is perfectly fine because...." and I trailed off so that she could finish the thought in her words.
She looked at me with a smile, "Because some people are black!"
I hugged her. I told her, "That's right. Some people are black, some people are red, yellow, white. We are all different, aren't we?" She nodded and told me about a song they were learning in school that celebrated this and talked about different skin colors. Jesus Loves the Little Children*.
I had another thought. She may be in Catholic school and I may want her to find comfort in believing in God if she chooses to, but I wasn't going to take history, fact, and genetics and human evolution and science away from her or her sister.
"You know, nobody from the time of Adam and Ewa is still alive. We have no idea what color they were."
"So, they could have been black?" my daughter asked.
I nodded, "They could have been any color for all we know."
She started playing with the Smurf doll her little sister handed her.
I patted her back, hung this on the refrigerator, and told her, "This is your artwork, you can make it any way you want to."
Because it is her art work. Not that man's.
She sees that the world is full of different people and that none of us is better than another based on appearance. I want her to know that.
*Lyrics to Jesus Loves the Little Children
Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white,
All are precious in his sight,
Jesus loves the little children of the world.