We were out to dinner to celebrate my husband’s birthday. In the middle of ordering my four year old turned to me and said, “mom, I like her. She looks Mexican.”

I shushed her! Grrr…. It’s still my gut reaction. After all this time, thought, and effort to bring awareness and validation to how kids (and adults) see and make sense of the world.

I followed the shush by saying, “yes, she’s very beautiful.” I placed our order and offered a friendly smile to the server. Maybe she didn’t hear? I thought (hoped). I think part of the reason I shushed was because I didn’t want the server to get drawn into a conversation that would require something more than she might be willing to give.

Let’s unpack this. The server left and I asked, “why do you think that?”

Campbell: “Because she has dark skin like the Mexican girls that we saw in Cabo.”

Me: “Well, that makes sense. ”

We followed with a conversation about how people are all unique and skin color doesn’t dictate where you are from or where you can live. But, sometimes, asking questions can reveal unique things about another person’s culture and life that we might find interesting or exciting.

This is another excellent example of how children learn about their world. They observe and file. When needed they reach in and pull out those file folders to make sense of what they are seeing. Campbell accessed her file folder from our trip to Cabo, Mexico to make sense of the beautiful, darker (than her) skinned young women who came to take our order.

I don’t know if this was a fail or a success. Maybe just a salvage effort?