The flu made its rounds at our house recently but I assure you, this isn’t that kind of post. Rinn is obsessed with NASCAR. I might have taken a mild interest in the sport circa 2006 but I can assure you I had nothing to do with this. It’s not as if I would rather have blood drawn or stand in line at the DMV but watching people drive in circles on Sunday afternoons is not high on my priority list. This obsession has recently taken over his library selections so I wasn’t the least bit surprised when the book he brought home from school was titled “Stars of Stock Car Racing”.
Rinn: You’re going to love the book I got.
Me: Oh? (Knowing full well it was either about racing or hurricanes, neither of which I love.)
Rinn: Look, Jimmie is on the cover!
I may or may not have commented that Jimmie Johnson is a handsome man and he’s always my first pick when we have Hot Wheel races. Knowing Rinn, I think this was his way of appeasing me and trying to get me to spark a genuine interest in his reading material. I wish I were that vapid.
He started flipping through the pages, reading the parts he could and providing his own commentary.
Rinn: Kevin Harvick used to drive the 29 car! I have to tell dad!
Rinn: Jimmie had a Pokemon car!
Rinn: Oh gosh, Danica Patrick’s suit looks like explosive diarrhea!
I almost drove the car off the road.
Rinn: It’s green like explosive diarrhea.
Me: (again…) What?
Rinn: They said it on that house show, that green looks like explosive diarrhea.
Turns out not even HGTV is safe.
In one of the first encounters between Rinn and Travis, Travis accidentally said the word “shit” and then apologized profusely because he was in the presence of my child. I couldn't really since I have a terrible habit of cussing in front of Rinn. However, Rinn and I have what I thought was a fool proof system where I say words he shouldn’t and follow it up by shouting “ADULT WORD”. I assured Travis that it was ok, my exact words:
“Rinn knows he shouldn’t say adult words, you’re fine.”
And without missing a beat, Rinn says:
“But I can say shit though, right mom?”
Talk about a palm to the face moment. Clearly we had work to do.
Fast forward to last week when Travis and Rinn were discussing race car paint schemes because what else do boys talk about?
Travis: This paint scheme is badass.
Rinn: Yeah, that is badass!
Travis: I would...wait, son you can’t say badass.
Rinn: Why not?
It’s like he has forgotten all of his training.
PRETTY FLY FOR A WHITE GUY
I can count on one hand how many kids of color I shared the hallways with during my K-12 education. I should clarify that this wasn’t the districts fault; there was less than 400 kids in all the grades combined and rural Wisconsin in the 90’s wasn’t exactly a hotbed for diversity. Let me rephrase that, rural Wisconsin in the 90’s wasn’t a exactly a hotbed for anything. That’s not to say I didn’t have a diverse childhood, my adventures in dance allowed for travel and an exposure to a variety of people, places and everything in between.
Rinn’s primary school on the other hand is the 7th most diverse school in the state and caters to over 880 students! The town I grew up in had a population of 1200. The TOWN! There are almost as many kids in his school than there were people roaming the streets I grew up on. While I was mildly overwhelmed at first, mostly because I had my heart set on homeschooling, I couldn’t help but be excited by all opportunities that await him in such a large and diverse environment.
Me: (always too enthusiastically) How was school today?
Let me just say I thought the “fine” answer didn’t start until puberty, maybe slightly before. I didn’t realize I would be left in the dark with regards to my child’s education and social life in the first grade.
Me: Did you do anything fun today?
Rinn: I’m a white boy.
Long dramatic pause because while I’m usually quick in the department of wit, this statement had me at a loss for words. I’ve prepared answers for how babies are made (you buy them at the hospital) and what are you and dad doing in the bedroom with the door locked (wrapping Christmas/birthday/easter/relevant holiday presents) but I wasn’t prepared for when my child discovered his race.
Rinn started telling me about the library and asking where we were going.
Me: Wait, was that something you learned today?
Rinn: We watched a movie about Rosa Parks and I’m a white boy.
Again Rinn tried to move on. Meanwhile, I was trying to imagine an educational film that prompted the children in the room to identify themselves as white or black.
Me: Hold on, did the movie tell you you’re white.
Rinn: No. I’m telling you because I didn’t know if I was white or black. Now I know.
And now you all know. Rinn is a white boy.