This isn’t a ramble, Gentle Reader. Rather I need two stories, the telling of which will avoid a ramble.
Scott Simon of NPR published Baby, We Were Meant For Each Other. The book allows the reader to share the adoption journey that he and Caroline traveled as they found their beloved children. Consistent with the honesty and talent of Mr. Simon, Baby has many layers.
While discussing the challenge of guarding the ethnicity and heritage of their children, Scott Simon told the story of the adopted son of a prominent political figure and a misperception that became a fact of the boy’s life.
The boy grew with the belief that he was Native American, Cherokee. Friends, relatives–everyone–accepted and honored this heritage. His father became involved in Indian Affairs in his determination to protect that heritage.
Years later, the boy met his Scandinavian birth mother and they began to share history. Of course, the young man asked about his father, assuming that the Indian part of himself came from that man. No so. When asked about ‘ethnicity’ for the birth certificate, the young mother said, “All American”. Thus a Native American child was born and lived out the perception.
Scott and Caroline Simon have a beautiful and powerful story that carries a weight not given to my second bit of perception awry.
Growing up in Wyandotte County, Kansas City, Kansas enriched my life and I have treasured that experience in Four Ordinary Women and in this blog. During a marathon volunteer session preparing food for a festival in Wyandotte County, the subject of early years had the usual prominent place. “Remember when we…” A large number of the volunteers shared most of their lives with one another, attending grade school in the building where we were working. Seventy to eighty years in the neighborhood supplied laughter to enjoy over and over.
Bob and I are late comers to the group. We work hard, smile often and listen with interest. We are wise enough to know that our stories are not part of the fabric here.
Someone working nearby spoke of my elementary school located less than five miles away. The person said, “Everyone from that school was ‘snooty’, thought they were better than everyone else.”
“Really? Do I seem snooty to you? Do I act better than anyone in this room? I certainly do not feel that way…have no memory of ever feeling that way…have no memory of any classmates expressing that perception of being better than.”
The woman and I have lived full lives for over seventy years. We worked side by side, spending hours preparing food, cleaning, volunteering for the success of this event. Perception, snooty and better than, trumped the day.