Quite a while ago a friend commented on our family. As I mentioned in this blog a few months ago, she said “The sisters must have been very generous-hearted”. I wrote a blog post about the “home-grown helpful sisters”. Naturally I mentioned how our two adoptive sons enriched their lives, as well as where I saw the big sisters were being helpful. Now I have just thought of more occasions when our daughters/the big sisters were so helpful.
By the time Jah came to join our family, Lucy was already 16 years old. She read up about the effects of deprivation in the early years of a child’s development and I was able to have many interesting conversations with her. We tried to understand the way Jah might be feeling and why he behaved in certain ways. Obviously D. and I talked a lot, but sometimes we came to different conclusions and it definitely helped me to talk things through with Lucy.
“I caught Jah scrubbing his arms. I asked him why and he said ‘I want to be white’. “
We were distressed. Since Sam was brown and he looked up to him so much, why would Jah want to be ‘white’?
It reminded me of a little Chinese boy I looked after at a nursery I ran in Malaysia. As far as I could see, his skin was white anyway, but I caught him scrubbing his little arms ferociously. I knew that the Chinese women usually carried a parasol, to avoid getting suntanned but I was very surprised to see that a small boy would ever think about that. It was of course, more worrying to me that Jah was going through a similar exercise.
We went through the usual attempts at positive affirmation and I also went to his school teacher and suggested books that she could read to the whole class – books that featured black and mixed race children. I think this helped. In actual fact, Jah was usually quite a cheerful boy.
Sam played wonderfully with Jah, but sometimes he was out with friends and the big sisters were around to keep him company. They played games with Jah and read him stories.
Jah loved cricket as well as football. Lucy and Anna sometimes played cricket with him. It wasn’t one of their favourite games, but Jah was so happy when they played with him. I rigged up a couple of polystyrene ‘shin pads’. He thought he looked great!