I love watching Aster play.
She is slow, gentle and strong. She goes across the monkey bars so gracefully. She moves carefully. So thin you can see every muscle in her back. She's beautiful. Aster likes the slide. She slowly climbs up and carefully sits as she's told. Feet first. I think the best is watching her swing. It's when she just seems free. No rules to follow.
There was only one other family at the park. A mom and three kids. And a billion sand toys. All huddled together.
Aster walked slowly over, careful as always. She sat down next to one of the kids. Barely louder than a whisper she said, "I'm going to make injera" and picked up one of the many shovels laying about.
Before I could even start to tell her about asking to borrow, the mother screamed, "Tell her to put it down or give it back!"
In shock from the urgency and horrid delivery, I paused.
She repeated her request.
I told Aster to please give the shovel to a child (not even knowing which one, because all of them had their hands full of toys and none seemed interested in what Aster had).
The mom instructed one of the children to take the shovel as my daughter sadly reached her arm out offering the shovel to whoever would take it.
Her children ignored her.
Again, she instructed and one of the children finally looked up and took the shovel.
Aster slowly walked back to the slide. I met her and tried my best to make the park fun as the strange lady and her kids stared at us.
My children felt it.
Judah whispered, "I want to go home."
Aster heard Judah and quickly joined in, "Me, too."
Once we were in the car Aster had an idea, "Tomorrow let's bring my sand toys I got from birthday party. I will share with any kids. I'm nice."
Yes, you are baby. Yes. You. Are.
It can easily be argued that the mother could have screamed over my child touching her children's toys if my child was white. That's the thing about racism, it's never completely clear. It's a feeling deep down in the gut. It's in the eyes. It's too easily dismissed. If you ask my children what happened today, they'd tell you they met "a mommy that was not good at sharing."
If they could express it, I think they may also tell you there was something way worse about it than just being shovel-selfish.