In the past few days I have twice found my wits tested by my 4 year-old.
This first interaction went something like this.
Jie-jie: Mom, the Chinese are yellow people.
Me: Oh? What do you mean by that?
Jie-jie: My teacher told me that the Chinese people are yellow. There are brown people like [our friend] from India and black people in Africa.
Me: How do you know if someone is yellow, brown, or black?
Jie-jie: Where they live.
Me: But what does it mean to be a color?
Jie-jie: It means if you are Chinese your face is yellow. That what’s my teacher said!
Me: I guess I don’t see it.
Jie-jie: MOM! My TEACHER said that it how it is. So just stop talking, OK?
Me: (thinking that for someone writing an article on parenting around race, I am ill prepared to argue with the reported assertions of a Chinese kindergarten teacher that races (differentiated by color) are a fact. How do you explain to a 4 year-old that thinking was abandoned by the 20s in the U.S.?) OK. We can talk about it another time.
The second interaction went something like this:
Jie-jie: Mom, I need to ask you something.
Jie-jie: How do you make pixie dust from a moonstone?
Me: Umm… I don’t know… that is to say, pixie dust is from a story, just imaginary… so… I guess you could imagine any way you want to make it from a moonstone.
Ji-jie: Oh, I see. I get it!