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?"
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?"
STYO: "What's your name?"
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."
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.