Momma’s baby, daddy’s maybe?
Yesterday, the universe conspired against me. I woke up at 5:30 am, earlier than I have in the last ten years (with the exception of the few months we spent under the ill-advised delusion that we were fit to foster parent some gender confused chickens). My goal was to get three kids ready for a school bus that came at the ungodly hour of 7:10 in the morning.
At 6 am, with only one child showered, my oldest son noticed a “bug” that was flying erratically through my apartment. Under normal circumstances, “bug” is a catchall term that includes innocuous animals like moths, grasshoppers, spiders, and worst case scenario, “jukim”, the monster-sized flying cockroaches which infest Israel.
But on this particular morning, “bug” meant huge hornet thing with a chip on its shoulder. After a few minutes of panic and frantic evacuation, I managed to trap the menace in the bathroom, abruptly curtailing all attempts at bathing. One day into the school year, and we were already going to be “that” family…
Upon getting all of the kids off to school, I rushed to catch my train, only to learn (after sleuthing around for several minutes like a transit cop version of Miss Marple) that my train had been cancelled. The good news is that this gave me plenty of time to find out that I had misplaced my bus pass, and to further learn that here in Israel you can only replace your bus pass through the original company that had supplied it to you in the first place, which in my case was on the other side of the country, three hours away.
After having a full blown hissy fit in the train station and eventually paying for a second monthly pass, it occurred to me that I had not thought of how much more efficient things were in America until well after the situation was over. I have yet to determine if this was a change for the better, or merely the oleh equivalent of Stockholm Syndrome.
In a final indignity, which I had honestly half expected, based on how the rest of my day had gone, my usual bus from my office to the train station never appeared, meaning that I reached the train home 15 seconds too late, leaving me beating futilely on the doors as the train pulled away into the night.
This left me to call my husband and explain why he would need to bring four children from their nice warm beds to meet me at the train station, just so he would be able to catch his train and get to work on time. Needless to say, this admission was met with little grace and much exasperation.
As I sat wallowing in self-pity, my husband proceeded to tell me the low point of his day: our son’s kindergarten teacher refused to let him take our son home. I paused for a minute before asking him to repeat what he had just said. He confirmed that he had arrived on time to pick our son up at his new kindergarten, conveniently located at one end of our parking lot, but had left his ID upstairs in the apartment.
Since school had just started, my husband had not yet met with the teachers. Despite my son recognizing his father, the assistant teacher didn’t quite believe that my biracial son and my Caucasian husband were a believable gene pool match, and eventually had to seek confirmation from one of our neighbors who also had a child in the class.
Having spent most of our time in Israel in a small community where our family makeup was a known commodity, this was the first time that this had happened to us. My husband laughed it off, but it made me wonder how I would have felt if the situation had been reversed, with me being unable to pick up a child because I looked “too dark” to be his mother.
For biracial families, situations like this always lie just below the surface, waiting to pop up and surprise you. As we move towards a more heterogeneous society, it will become incumbent upon us all to be prepared to deal with issues of race on a personal level which we had previously been able to ignore. As for me, it was a small comfort to know that no matter how badly my day had gone, at least my primal connection to my child was not being questioned due simply to the colors of our skin. In this instance, my son was truly “momma’s baby”.