An amusing thing happened to me this afternoon. I was lying down in the park near my apartment doing some light reading. A group of kids (3 girls and 1 boy) were playing nearby. After what appears to be a rather fulfilling round of leap frog, the kids all went to sit under a magnolia tree and listened as the boy and his sister told the others about their grandparents, Papa and Mia, who were somewhere in the park.
A few minutes later, one of the girls walked up to me and said, “Excuse me, are you their grandpa?”
I chuckled a little. This was certainly not the turn of events that I was expecting. She was blissfully unaware of two characteristics that I possessed, which would have been obvious to any adult. The first, being that I’m not old enough to be a grandfather and until that moment, I didn’t think I looked it. Perhaps more importantly, this little blonde-haired white girl didn’t notice the difference between the color of my skin and that of her budding raconteur friends (or her own for that matter).
So in my head, I’m debating how to handle the situation. Do I bring up our color differential or our insufficient age differential as the reason that I wasn’t the grandfather of her friends?
Smiling, I asked, “Do I look old enough to be a grandfather?”
She thought for moment. “No,” she said sheepishly.
Still smiling, I respond, “No, I’m not their grandfather.”
She says okay and runs off to continue playing with her friends.
When you’re a kid, there’s very little that’s outside the realm of possibility and many things are equally probable. For that little girl, the things that mattered were the fact that I was a male who was significantly older than she was, and I was laying down in the general direction of where Papa was said to have been.
The thing is, family isn’t just made up of people who share one’s skin color. Families come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. As interracial adoption and relationships become more normal, that little girl’s question becomes all the more plausible. I would venture to say that the question may even be prescient of the world she may mature in. However, none of that changes the fact that 24 is still too young to be a grandfather.
To the little girl in the park: with the exception of one detail, the realm of possibility is still quite infinite. I hope it continues to stay that way for you and all the other children in the world.