(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?”