While at the store recently, I told my 3 year old to pick a toy from the $1 rack that she would love the most. If she was good, she could get it at checkout. If she didn't listen, we would put it back.
Beaming, she reached forward and made her selection—a doll she age-appropriately named “Dollie.” Although my daughter is a tad bronze already from the sun, she is decidedly white. Her new friend—the tiny doll from the $1 aisle, the one with the wide eyes, the one she chose from a stack of other dolls and bubbles and balls and trucks—the skin of that little doll is a rich, warm chocolate.
Dollie is black with hot pink hair.
My daughter has since been professing her love for Dollie, stroking her hair and carrying her around in a tiny crossbody purse. They're best buds, these two gals.
If you needed an affirmation about the lifecycle of intolerance, this experience proves something: it is taught.
Right now, the stressors in my 3 year old daughter's life include shadows in her closet that may be monsters, the gas station being out of strawberry milk and not being allowed a fourth story at bedtime. That will change, of course, but now she glows with innocence and a sweet naivety; the word “hate” is not even in her vocabulary.
We teach our kids to practice goodness within themselves, to promote goodness within their circles and to recognize and celebrate the goodness in others—all others. In my house, doing the above isn't something to be rewarded—it is expected, it is respected and it just is.
Practicing, promoting and celebrating goodness can seem difficult as you age, as you may find yourself hardened a bit by circumstance. Today though, in the bargain aisle of a small town dollar store, it was not that hard to a 3 year old.
“She's perfect, Mommy!” my daughter grinned, her milky fingers wrapped around Dollie in a tight, stark, beautiful contrast as she held her up like a blue ribbon.
“She looks just like me. Her hair is so long like mine,” she said.
“You're right, honey,” I replied, pushing the cart along and smiling. “Good choice.”