Saturday, January 19, 2008

New York New York

We were riding the F train this afternoon, Bets and I, here in NY when for some reason I already have shoved far back into the recesses of my mind talk of Betsy's donor dad came up. We might have been discussing height or we might have been discussing weight or we might have been discussing sushi, but there it was. We talk about him from time to time and usually I'm on top of it, sharing with her information in a very careful, modulated and minimal way.

This time for some reason I sounded like a dingbat. I heard myself and thought, Dingbat.

It started like this, "You're half what?"


"Right. And you're a quarter what?"

"I don't know."



"That means your donor dad's mother is Japanese. If we saw her she would look like a Japanese lady."

"If we saw her she would look like a Japanese lady."

What in hell was I talking about? Betsy looked at me for further explanation which I didn't have so she resumed staring across the subway train at the man with the pierced lip, nose and eyebrows.

I think maybe I was high on the diversity of the F train. Visiting NY from even as nearby as Boston is like poking your head out of a cave after a decade's worth of hibernation. While you slept the world continued and everyone got really cool haircuts and great clothes. So, maybe I told myself, We're not hicks from Boston we're diversity too. Hey Bets, your grandmother is a Japanese lady.


Betsy was unperturbed. I'm learning I can make blunders both big and small and not ruin her for life.

An even more amazing learning experience took place at the American Girl Place where we got away with spending only $23. With adequate prep you can make anything happen. It took three weeks worth of "We can only buy something for $20 or less" to prepare Betsy for the harsh reality - $20 or less at the American Girl Place buys you not much more than an elastic for your doll's hair (in our case it bought us fake ice cream parlor treats). But she did it. And I was so proud.

With our American Girl Place bag in hand we boarded the F train to head back downtown where we would be back among our people, the funkadelics who can spend only $20 on doll clothes. And it was there, high on our success, intoxicated from the multi-colored world of downtown NY that I brought up the genetics.

"You're also a quarter Dutch."



The train screeching to a halt at Broadway/Lafayette ended the conversation. Thank goodness. Betsy bolted out of the train, her American Girl bag swinging behind her, an all-American-mixed-race-daughter-of -lesbians-girl, leaving this mommy with all of her explanations and analyses in the dust.


Sara said...

this reminds me of a friend of my son jake's, who at the wise age of 7 said, heavily, I'm not american.

I said, what do you mean?

he said, well, my mom is japanese and chinese, and my dad is italian. so I'm not american.

I said, oh, honey, you are probably the MOST american.

and then we all talked about Jake being mexican, irish, english, and german...

which sent them both into gales of laughter and excitement, discussing all the different pieces to each of their puzzles. tacos and pasta and sushi - it was lunchtime afterall.

don't be so nervous about your response. you did good. all kids wonder, even if they have the mom, dad, grandparents to go stare at.

and I want you to teach my wife how to only spend 23 dollars at a store...

Erin said...


I just wanted to let you know that I (Erin White) posted about your blog on this morning. I hope it brings you some new readers as well as old ones who didn't know where to find you. Here's the link:



Are You My Mothers said...

Thanks Erin. Babble is a great resource, I'm happy to be linked to them. And thank for reading!