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I’m Not The Manny, Dammit

June 14th, 2010  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  9 Comments

http://www.morethings.com/fan/blazing_saddles/gene_wilder-cleavon_little-blazing-saddles.jpg(Gabe Soria is joining DadWagon as a guest contributor this week, thereby breaking the delicate balance between Brooklynites and Manhattanites on this blog. Gabe is a Brooklynite; judge him accordingly. You can read more about him here.)

My son doesn’t look like me.

No, scratch that. He actually DOES look like me, but in subtle ways. His nose is pure Bingham, straight from Jackson, MS, and Bogalusa, LA. He carries himself like a miniature version of yours truly. He’s got brown eyes. But there’s one crucial difference between me and him – I’m dusky brown, a straight-up mixture of my Mexican dad and my Black mom. My boy? Not so much as a single kinky hair. The boy is WHITE. He tans well, though.

This is a downside to interracial parenting that you don’t often hear about. Oftentimes I get the feeling that… well, that we’re being watched. Most other mixed-race kids, you can just tell right off the bat that the dreadlocked brother is their dad. Their golden mocha complexion, that slightly nappy ‘fro… yep, that’s homeboy’s kid. That beatific little kind-of Asian girl walking around with the Nordic blonde? Her daughter, no doubt. My boy? Well, our relationship can be mysterious to the uninitiated, and since we spend so much time together, just the two of us, it sometimes leads to… awkward situations.

Case in point: A couple of weeks ago, the boy and I are riding the train back to Brooklyn from city, enjoying the slow creep of the Q as it makes its way over the Manhattan bridge. Near us there’s a slightly confused, maybe slightly crazy older white woman, trying to figure out how to travel back to the island. She’s twitchy, with a touch of an Eastern European accent. Naturally, she sits near us. And starts checking me and the boy out with interest. He eyes narrow.

“Are you babysitting?!”

I look at the boy, then back at the lady.

“Well, kind of. I’m his dad.”

“Very handsome boy.”

“Thank you.” (And it’s true. The boy’s pretty good-looking.)

She stares at us again, winding up, and finally…

“Your wife… is she white?!”

I glance around and can see other folks have heard the question. They’re either about to crack up or die of embarrassment. Sighing, I point at the boy and respond to the lady.

“What do YOU think?”


  1. @uniqueblog says:

    June 14th, 2010at 8:41 am(#)

    Yeah totally undersand. My daughter looks white. I’m obviously black. Thanks for sharing! Great story

  2. DadinNJ says:

    June 14th, 2010at 10:16 am(#)

    Oh, yeah. Try riding the subway as an interacial GAY couple with a really white, blond haired, blue eyed three year old. Oh, they really try not to stare, but they just can’t figure it out. Eventually one of them cracks and has to ask. Usually it’s an otherwise nice, elderly lady.

    One time we were waiting to cross Columbus Avenue when a lady asked me point blank: where’s his mother? I looked her straight in the eye and told her the truth: The California State Penitentiary. The light changed and the conversation ended right there.

    Humor, my friend, always keep your sense of humor.

  3. michael says:

    June 14th, 2010at 10:46 am(#)

    i’d be more surprised that she’d think anyone would hire you to babysit. Wanted: one wild eyed- artsy type to watch my kid.

  4. Lisa Takeuchi Cullen says:

    June 14th, 2010at 11:44 am(#)

    I’ve been asked point blank if I’m the nanny. Usually happens when the child is white and the parent isn’t. (My response: “Yes. Unpaid.”) But then again, the writer Peggy Orenstein says some strangers assume her half-Asian daughter is adopted.

  5. Kate says:

    June 14th, 2010at 2:28 pm(#)

    My best friend is white and married to a black man, and one of their daughters is red curly haired with green eyes (and WHITE, her mom says she has skin like saran wrap) and the younger one is light brown with the same curly hair, only that is also brown. It is so funny to see people trip over themselves, it became a game to us. whenever our families went out together she and I would hang back and watch people try to assign kids to our husbands (My husband and I have 1 VERY blonde toddler so there were 3 kids with 2 dads) . When people clearly got confused and/or uncomfortable over her husband claiming the redhead, we would pop up and she would give him a huge kiss and exclaim “Oh! What, were you expecting??”. It was highly entertaining. Some people seem incapable of understanding interracial relationships although it seems like they would have some idea that they at least occur by now.

  6. JessieVT says:

    June 15th, 2010at 9:55 am(#)

    Humor is definitely key in parenting. I think I’d rather be accused of being the Nanny than the Granny. Some of my gray-haired mom friends have experienced that scenario… and I figure my day will come soon. Sweet article.

  7. Aran says:

    June 15th, 2010at 1:49 pm(#)

    I have also seen the opposite situation in which a very white mom has a very dark baby. Oakland has a lot of WASP/African Immigrant marriages, so this happens a lot there. I am sure most people just assume these women have adopted their children.


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