She gobbled her spaghetti up and I started thinking about how much she liked spaghetti.
I told her we ate spaghetti with her in Ethiopia the very first week we had her. "It was really spicy spaghetti," I remembered out loud, watching her face to see just how much she remembered about that first week we were together when she was three years old.
Then she said, "People in Ethiopia like spicy food."
Me: "Yes, they do."
Little Girl: "I like spicy food. But I just got all mixed up."
Me: "Mixed up? What do you mean?"
Little Girl: "Yeah, I got mixed up with you when I came here. You know because you have white skin and I have brown skin. We're mixed up."
Me (trying to understand what she was thinking and totally flowing with the concept that a conversation about spaghetti turned into a skin color discussion): "So, we got mixed up when you left Ethiopia and came to America with us to be in our family?"
Little girl: "Yes, people from American have white skin and Ethiopians have brown skin like me."
Me: "Well, not all people who were born in American have white skin."
She agreed and pointed out a little boy in her class who has brown skin like she does.
Then I asked, "So what do you think about being 'mixed up'?"
She didn't understand, so I clarified, "Do you think it's bad or good being 'mixed up', or it doesn't really matter?"
"It doesn't really matter," she said easily, cheerfully.
And then she began jabbering about something else. . .
We will have a lifetime of these conversations, she and I, sorting through the 'mixed up'.
Our mixed-up family