Nope, it wasn’t nudity, but good guess. That happened several times in early potty learning, and I didn’t care when he stripped in public. Not my parts, don’t care who sees ’em. And lordy, did that boy drop trou inappropriately. Nope, not tonight. Nor was tonight’s “Holy crap, who said that? Couldn’t be my kid. Maybe this kid is a replacement, sent by aliens who are studying how to make their humanoids more thoughtful and polite like my kid” moment wasn’t pointing out some socially unsavory characteristic about a stranger. He doesn’t even know the really damning words (I leave that to relatives, who, this week alone, have added four words we’ve intentionally NEVER uttered in front of him, to his vocabulary. Sure, we’ve spelled them. Because some people really ARE s-t-u-p-i-d. But he didn’t know them until someone used them in conversation with him. And twit. And bad. Whatever. I give up.) No, this mortification falls under the “Kids Say the Most Inappropriate, If True, but Not Really True, Let Me Explain” category for Bill Cosby. Only he wouldn’t touch this one with a ten foot pole.
Peanut and I are riding on BART, facing the wheelchair-accessible seats. So we have lots of graphics to talk about, mostly evacuation procedures. I’m watching people, discussing with him east and west as concepts. And he is silent for almost a minute, looking at the emergency exit stuff.
He then announces, in full Broadway Belt voice, on a rush hour BART train headed from SF into Oakland:
“White people go on white train; black people go on black train!”
Squelching the impulse to shout, “No! Who taught you that?!” I look where he’s looking. He’s right. Holy, crap, BART people, your evacuation procedures pictures have white people leaving a white train and black people leaving a black train. So his segregationist proclamation is correct, but that’s not the intention of the visual image. I hope. Oh, double crap, how to handle this one?! Where was Mr. Rogers when you needed him? Where is Nebraska’s child abandonment program when you need it? (Okay, not funny. But kinda funny. ‘Cuz some of these here states have some really s-t-u-p-i-d legislatures, no?)
Peanut was very proud of himself for noticing a pattern on a drawing and pointing it out. We say “yay” when he finds patterns in books. Find opposites, find similarities, find something out of place–all of those get a yay. Notice a graphic design nightmare on San Francisco’s trains and you get your mommy into some serious social hot water, little person.
He noticed that, on the aerial structures evacuation procedure, the background is black and the train and people were white. It’s a simple graphic. But right next to it, in the subterranean, transbay tube, and subway graphic, the background is black, the tunnel was white, and, to provide graphic difference, the people and train were all black. Geezus, people, can’t we atleast be consistent with the colors? Can’t all the backgrounds be black or white, and all the trains and people be the same? No, not in the Blueberry-Eating-Smurfiest of all Blue States. No, we need to give equal time to black stick figures and white stick figures. Do they always have to board a train of the same freaking color? Thanks a lot, freaking BART people. Freaking graphic designer from the land of high contrast, low sensitivities. Whatever. I can’t control you a–holes, I can only control my reactions to you a–holes. But let the record show you’re making me look bad here, and making my kid very confused. Or, my reaction will make him confused in three, two, one…
So I tried to acknowledge his discovery AND maintain the huge civil rights gains of the past 150 years.
“Well, honey, that’s just the way they drew the picture. In real trains, ALL people go, and they are lots of different colors. And BART trains aren’t black or white. They’re silver. See? The tracks that are up are in the nighttime, so it’s black in the sky. We couldn’t see the people in the drawing unless they were white. So the picture shows the people white even though people come in lots of colors. And, see, the tracks in the tunnel, show that the tunnel is bright, and we wouldn’t see the people unless they were drawn black. So the picture shows the people black even though people come in lots of colors. See? It’s just a drawing. BART is silver, and we’re pink, not white or black.” [Pathetic. Liberal p.c. oversensitive bullshit pathetic bad parenting yuck. And yet, yay for not overreacting or denying the reality of the freaking white people getting on the white train and the black people getting on the black train. Have I cursed you BART graphics a–holes enough yet? No.]
“Mommy, we no pink. We plain. With little red, right there.” He points to a lovely zit on my chin and moves on to ask for pretzels.
He’s done. I’m not. I’m surrounded by a variety of people, none of whom care (and why not? he’s cute and he’s finally intelligible, so you could at least listen and smirk a little at his huge social gaffe) but to whom I’d like to give a moving speech about how we don’t teach him that people are different, that we teach him all people deserve respect, that people come in all colors, that public places are for everybody (the last one just because he demands that other people leave any place he really likes, especially when there are fire-juggling unicyclists, but that’s another BART story for tomorrow).
I just want everyone around me to know that this boy who seemed to pronounce belief in a new era of separate but equal is really just noticing what some total loser jerk graphic designer with no foresight neglected to read the “socially significant” part of her creative brief. And who approved those black and white graphics? Is it so much more expensive to have purple people and green people? They’re web-safe and could serve as the emergency procedures online, too. Please. Throw me a freaking parenting bone here, people! I just want to tell all the people in the seats around us, most of whom are asleep, and none of whom listens to strange toddler/preschoolers anyway, that this was not a commentary on race relations. My son likes Barack Obama whether he’s photographically brownish or cartoon redish and bluish, as in the yard signs still dominating our neighborhood. In fact, he really likes the red and blue Obama. I do, too. But I don’t draw pictures in which he only gets on a blue and red train, while all the grey people get on a grey train, for feck’s sake.
Ah, too cute. It’s really sad how we freak out over little toddler gaffs.
You’re right, faemom. It’s totally liberal guilt–they WERE white people and it WAS a white train. He wasn’t doing anything wrong. But damned if I wasn’t still processing is as a horror this morning.