When we arrived to kindergarten orientation a few weeks back, there was space at one of two tables full of families. One table was full of black families, and one table was full of white families. Selam stood smack in the middle of the two for the longest time. I waited her out, wanting her to pick where to go. She finally chose the table full of black families. We sat down and introduced ourselves to her future classmates and their mothers. One of the teachers came up to our table (reading resource? or art maybe?) and made the rounds. She asked Selam her name and repeated it carefully. I liked that. Then she said, “and who is this lady? foster mother?” “No, she’s just my mommy, ” Selam said.
On Sunday, a woman from the church where I am serving commented on how comfortable the children seemed with me, “and you picked up that little black girl and it just seemed to make her so happy.”
The little black girl was my little girl, who just couldn’t take sharing her mother with the rest of the children of the church any longer. It was pick her up (she was attempting to scale my left leg at the moment) or move the microphone so that her subsequent meltdown did not give the folks listening on assisted hearing devices a heart attack.
After church, we went to camp for a great swim with friends followed by some Father’s Day fun with my dad. There were a few of us in the locker room, changing after the swim. One of the parents opened the locker room door, and I heard a voice, “Selam, I see your grandpa,”
Before I could even get to the door, she had bolted out, and dad was hugging her with one arm while finishing his phone call with the other. Selam was bouncing up and down with excitement. He closed the phone and catapulted into his arms.
It’s such a small thing, to have people know to whom you belong. Such a small thing, but such an everything.
After lunch and ice cream, we came back to camp, and hung out for a little while at the horse barn, looking at the horses and taking pictures. Some of dad’s fellow volunteers and staff members were getting ready to take off on a day off. They were hanging around and waiting for their whole group to show up. Some of them talked to Dad, and one took our picture with Dad’s camera. A final group member showed up, “Dave! This must be your granddaughter!”
I sort of love the word “your.”
I think my dad does, too.