Do you think the police will get her?
Last Saturday, I came up with a brilliant plan to avoid the sibling MMA fights that occur every few hours in our house. I dropped off my youngest daughter at a friend’s house and told my oldest she could invite a friend over to ours.
With both girls occupied, I thought, I might also be able to get some work done.
For the first two hours my plan worked perfectly. Skye and her friend played peacefully, leaving me uninterrupted for two glorious hours.
“Mom, can we go to the park?”
Ugh. I agreed, thinking I should take them outside to get some fresh air.
“Okay. Give me five minutes,” I replied as my fingers tapped dance across the keyboard.
“We’ll get ready!” the girls yelled.
Five minutes later, they were back.
“Just give me a few more minutes, girls,” I said. They did an about-face only to return in what felt like just a few seconds.
“Excuse me, Mrs. Rawles,” Skye’s friend Bree said.
“Yes, dear,” I replied, finally turning away from my computer screen.
Both girls stood before me with smudgy dark-brown war paint under their eyes. A pink bandana was tied around my daughter’s forehead, and a Nerf Dart Gun dangled from the front of her blue jeans. Bree was resting a Nerf crossbow on her shoulder and sported a backward baseball cap that engulfed her small head.
With a smile, I quickly shut my laptop.
“Mrs. Rawles, I have a question,” Bree said.
“Do you think it is safe for Skye to take the gun to the park, or do you think the police will get her? Because I could carry the gun for her if you think it would be safer.”
I froze, not sure of how to reply. Police? Get her?
“Uh, I think it is safe for Skye to play with the Nerf gun, especially since it is pink and white and doesn’t look real at all. ”
“See!” my daughter said as she nudged her friend’s shoulder. “I told you I would be safe taking it.”
“I was just making sure,” Bree replied confidently.
“Lets go,” I said.
The girls burst out of the door, skipping hand in hand down the street. Skye and her golden-brown complexion next to Bree’s slightly tanned white skin looked like some sort of commercial endorsement of Martin Luther King’s I Have A Dream speech (combat gear not withstanding).
When we reached the park, I sat on the bench and watched as the girls chased each other, hid behind trees, and shot Styrofoam arrows and bullets at each other. They pretended to be their favorite demigod characters from one of those Percy Jackson books. Playing like kids play, playing like Tamir Rice played.
Funny enough, I started feeling more optimistic about race and race relations than I had in a very long time. And it wasn’t because I was watching two kids of different races play together, but rather because a little white girl expressed concerned about her brown-skinned friend in the wake of some very troubling national tragedies. She asked me questions that demonstrated she was comfortable talking about race and that she had some awareness about race inequality. In short, she was not being raised under the blinders of white privilege, which means her parents were making a concerted effort to ensure that their little girl understood the importance of racial sensitivity. It worked.
At the end of the play date I decided not to mention anything to Bree’s parents. I was content just knowing that, at her core, Bree wanted to make sure my girl was safe and protected. She’s the kind of friend I hope Skye has and maintains throughout her lifetime—the kind who looks out for you, can see past her own life experience, and, in case of danger, comes up with a last-minute game plan.