My daughter is a minority at her school, which is about two-thirds African American. I think this is a good experience for her, as she learns to get along with kids whose backgrounds differ a little from hers. Occasionally, she will come home using an expression that is specific to that culture. Last night, for example, she asked if I could buy her some lotion. "My skin is so ashy," she said. As she adopts vocabulary and tries on expressions, she will sometimes come home with something I wasn't quite ready to hear:
"Mom, Coach told us not to be those girls that have four or five different baby-daddies. What's a baby-daddy?"
We had been walking out of my son's school, another mother some steps ahead of us. I was stunned into silence, but when the mom turned to say, "Good luck with that. We just had that conversation last week," I burst into laughter. Yes, I explained it. I explained the coach's trying to set a standard for the girls. "There are young ladies at your school who fall into this category," I said, "because their moms had one relationship, had a baby out of it, moved onto the next boyfriend, and did it again. Sometimes, you'll see entire families where there is no committed relationship and a string of children from different men. It makes for great instability and uncertainty in a family. It's not good for society. She was just trying to tell you all to make good choices."
I thought I had done very well here until my daughter asked if her step-mother could claim such a label. After clarifying the difference in the relationship and reminding my daughter that her step-mom cares greatly for her, I searched for the right words to stop my daughter from repeating "baby-daddy" and getting herself (or me) into a pickle. My little boy had the right idea. "It's not nice!" he stated emphatically. No, it's not nice at all, but it sure was worth a good chuckle.