Monday, April 30, 2007

Playground Issues, Part Two

All the books warned us that, as an interracial adoptive family, we'd get lots of inappropriate questions from strangers. I just didn't realize that the most questions would come from other kids on the playground. Yesterday, as I was helping Adinah conquer a new set of monkey bars at the park, we got swarmed by a very inquisitive little fella. He was older and with some friends, and I think they intimidated Adinah's best friend Oskar, but Adinah was just agog because a bigger boy was paying attention to her, and she's in awe of anyone older than five. I tried to be polite to the kid, but I was also trying to protect Adinah, especially when he started literally getting in her face as they were climbing on the bars. I guess ten-year-olds don't always understand the concept of minding ones own business, but I may still have to learn the German for "Back off, junior."

Here's how the conversation went....

Serbian Ten-Year-Old (in German)"Is she your child?"

Me: "Yes, she's my daughter."

STYO:"Is she adopted?"

Me: "Yes, she's adopted."

STYO: "Why don't you speak German with her?"

Me: "I'm American. My German is not so good."

STYO: "You're American? Do you know Heidi Klum?"

Me: (laughing) No, I don't know Heidi Klum."

Me: "Where are you from?"

STYO: "I'm from Serbia."

STYO: "Why doesn't she speak German?"

ME: "She speaks German. Deanie, do you speak German?"

Adinah: "Yes."

STYO: "Where did she learn German? (moving closer to Adinah) Where did you learn German?"

Adinah: "From my mother."

STYO: "What's your mother tongue?"

Adinah: "German."

STYO: "What's your name?"

Adinah: "Adinah."

STYO: "Where is her real mother?"

ME: "Her real mother is my wife. Her first mother-"

STYO: "Yes, I mean her first Mother."

Me: "Her first mother is dead. You can ask her about these things...."

STYO: (moving closer to her again)"Adinah, are you sad your first mother is dead?"

Adinah: "No, because I (inaudible.)"

STYO: "What about your real father? What about [etc. etc etc.]"

Me: (climbing up on the bars next to Adinah)(in English)"Adinah, can I tell you something? Sweetie? Just because someone asks you a question, it doesn't mean you have to answer. If you don't want to answer something, you can say 'No.' "

Me: "Deanie, do you want to come down from there?"


STYO: "Adinah, do you want to play with me?"


Me: (in German, to STYO) "I think we're going to play with our other friend."

STYO: "What?"

Me: (in German) "I think we're going to play with our other friend."

STYO: (with a slightly curled lip) "I don't understand you."

STYO: "Adinah, I will give you a compliment. You are very sweet."

Adinah was pretty un-phased by the whole exchange--as Holmes was interrogating her, she was climbing higher on the monkey bars than she'd ever been.


Ed Ward said...

Probably to get away from the nosy bastard. A well-placed (but inaudible to Adinah) "Eh, verpisst euch, Junge!" was probably in order here.

EuroTrippen said...

Kids have absolutely no boundaries. And pretty soon she'll be asked the same questions in school where you won't be able to intervene, so I think it's great that you let her more or less handle it and discussed everything in such an open manner.

Good training for those times when Daddy won't be around...

pat said...

I think he was actually less of a bastard than he sounds like here in raw Q & A format. But you never know. And yes, I agree about the boundaries thing--kids just wanna know stuff and they think everything is a good question. My wife has said she thinks that's a good thing. Me, I'm learning to let go verrrry slowly....

mimie said...

It is very intressting to read about interracial families in Vienna, since I have the feeling that it isn't very common to adopt black or asian children (as it is in Sweden where I grew up) Thanks for the insight. I think, that just as it is a good idea to tell your child she doesn't have to answer, you can tell the other kid that if she doesn't wants to answer, maybe he should stop the questions. A ten year old should be able to grasp that concept. All the best!