Monday, August 18, 2008

Why Don’t I Just Tattoo “DumbAss” Across My Forehead and Be Done With It??

So, Thursday night I was driving Kellen to his soccer practice and as we rounded the corner to the playing field, he pointed to a boy playing goalie and said, “That’s Omar. He’s a new boy on my team.”

Ok, let’s back up. When my kids went to school in Georgia, a large number of their classmates were black. Or Negro. Or African-American, or whatever is deemed “correct” these days. In Kindergarten, Brayden received an Barbie invitation to a birthday party for a classmate whose family we didn’t know. I was going to Target to buy a Barbie doll for the little girl when it occurred to me that there was a good chance this little girl might prefer a darker-skinned Barbie. So I called Brayden into the room and asked her, “Hey, is Monica black?” not realizing how literal children can take our comments. Brayden looked at me like I had grown another head and said, “Uh, no, she’s brown.” And so to this day, that’s what Blaine and the kids and I call brown people …. Brown. It’s not intended to be anything more than an identifier, just like my kids call people with blonde hair “Blondies”, or like they might identify a child by their height or freckles or if they wear glasses. No malice, no intent … just, “That’s Omar. He’s the new brown boy on my team.” Matter of fact, and end of discussion.

Kellen ran off to practice, and a gentleman with a heavy Spanish accent (which I later found out was Venezuelan) walked up to me a few minutes later and asked a question about the fields. While I’m not on a first-name basis with all the other parents yet, I do recognize most of them, and I knew I had never seen this gentleman before. Because I’m nosy as all get out friendly and inquisitive, I simply introduced myself and asked, “Are you Omar’s dad?” to which he paused, and then replied yes. It was obvious he was not Omar’s biological father. So I assumed he must be a step-dad. Doesn’t matter, really, I’m just curious about people like that.

I said, “Oh, Kellen told me they had a new boy named Omar on the team and that he’s a really good player …. He was so excited to have him try out.” And this dad and I started talking, and he was incredibly nice, and funny, and friendly. And I was thoroughly enjoying our conversation.

He asked me which boy was my son, and I pointed to Kellen and said, “Right there, the boy in the red shorts ….” And at exactly that moment, Kellen tripped over a blade of grass, with no-one anywhere near him, and fell flat on his face. And I burst out laughing and said, “The highly coordinated one who doesn’t understand gravity.” And he laughed too, in a kind way.

Then another gentleman, this guy a total whitey-tighty like me, walked up and introduced himself. And he was just as funny and friendly and nice as the first guy. And they were talking about “their” house and “their” business, and it took just a nano-second for the A-ha! light bulb to go on over my head.

I’ll admit, I was very curious about them. I mean, how do a Venezuelan guy and a white guy wind up as life partners in Oklahoma with a brown son named Omar? I mean, who *wouldn’t* be curious??

But more than that, I was acutely aware that I didn’t want to say anything stupid or offensive. I have no problem with gay people (Remember? Spent much of my twenties dancing in the local gay bars) and it goes without saying that I’m pro-adoption. So while I would have loved to have heard their story, I was determined not to give any indication that anything was out of the norm, or say or do anything to make them uncomfortable.

As the practice wore on, they were talking about how nervous their son was about the tryouts. So I started watching, and even though I know next to nothing about soccer, even I could tell the boy was very good. So I made several helpful comments about how well he was doing ….. “Oh, look, Omar just scored a goal!” … and “How long has Omar played soccer?” …. And “Omar seems like a really great defender!” Etc. And because I genuinely liked them and wanted to be friendly, I asked even more stuff, “Where does Omar go to school?” and “What other hobbies does Omar have?” I don’t know, maybe I was just so glad to have another newbie-parent there besides myself that I was pathetic in my attempts to be social, but it really did come from the heart.

At the end of the practice, the team manager came up and said to the dads, “Congratulations, we’re not sure if it will be the A team or B team, but the coach wants to offer Lamar a spot.” And the dads smiled and said thanks.

And I sat there a second and said, “Wait. Who? Lamar? Who’s Lamar?”

And the first dad said, “That’s our son …. Lamar.”

And I was all embarrassed and awkward, “Lamar? Lamar???? And I’ve been calling him OMAR this whole time??? Why didn’t either of you correct me???”
And they sort of smiled at one another, and then said to me, “You were being so nice, we didn’t have the heart.”

So basically, I sat there for an hour and a half, determined not to make them uncomfortable, or say anything stupid, but called their son by the wrong name the entire time. About a bazillion times. Clearly, I’m a moron.

But I’m totally blaming Kellen for this one --- I’m telling you, he SAID Omar!


Kelly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kelly said...

My stomach hurts from laughing so hard..I'm still laughing!!! That was just way tooo funny.
It must be something about kids, my older two are 7 years apart and they both say/said brown boy/girl.
My husbands name is Tyren...pronounced Ty-Wren(like the bird) I can't tell you how many people slaughter his name, I asked him one day why doesn't he correct any one on it...he said I know what my name is I can't help it if they don' every time some one mispronounces his name, I'm gonna bust out laughing and be thinking of you the whole time.....


Anonymous said...

That is so hilarious!! I call that a set up by Kellen...Kids will do that...LOL......Remind me when I meet you in the future to tatoo my kids names on their foreheads..LOL...Love, Marci

Marysienka said...

hahaha! Thanks for the laugh!! What a good way to start my day!
People mess up with my full name all the time (that's why I stick with the short version!), so much that I don't even hear it anymore :-P

Renee (that's the short version) in Canada

Natalie said...

I think I actually like Omar better than Lamar! You can imagine the variations we get on Declan. And when he tries to correct them, it comes out wrong anyway because of all of hardware in his mouth.

Tammy said...

LMAO! You so frickin crack me up girl, what the hell, its happened to all of us once or twice! Right? Yeah...........hugs from Fort Worth! Go Omar, I meant Lamar!!! he he he

Quinn said...

Hilarious! You made me laugh because I kept anticipating what politically incorrect/accidental thing you might blurt out. But all that was averted and you just slaughtered his name!

Love it~!

Jen said...

LOL that's hysterical. In Kindergarten my son kept telling me about his friend named Bin. I had worked with a guy named Bin before, he was Asian, so I assumed that Bin was the one Asian-looking boy is his class. Thank goodness I never said anything, Bin turned out to be Ben, a strapping read-headed Irish-looking boy and the other boy, who my son is friends with now, was named Matt.

Ang said...

LOL. When we lived in the south, my kids for some reason turned the UPS nickname "Brown Truck" in to "brown man" as in, "Mom! MOOOMMM!! The little brown MAN is here!! The BROWN MAN is HERE!!" Squeal! Scream!!Dogs barking - Kids and dogs thundering feet to the door- I know that our sweet Sammy Davis, Jr-looking UPS guy THREW our packages to the porch and he RAN for his life before my kids could rip that door open, LOL.

Cathy said...

Oh Kristy, I was sure someone was going to bust out with an un-PC comment. LOL about the Omar vs. Lamar!

The first day of first grade, my now 9th grade son told me that he made a new friend who was "A little bit Spanish and a little bit English, a little bit brown and a little bit white." In my head I always thought of that darling boy by my son's description from that point on.

Anonymous said...

My daughter was about 2 1/2 when we were sitting at a lake with family and friends. She pointed and said "Look, there is a chocolate man". It wasn't until she was about 4 that she finally said brown instead of chocolate.

Deb from NY

lynne said...

You know this is not too bad all considering. I teach at a international college. Some of my students names when they appear on the register at the beginning of the year I have no idea how to pronounce. Sometimes the students prefer us to use a nickname of their choice but most of the time I do try to get my tounge around the correct pronounciation of their given name. I really bust a gut to try and get it right but often at the end of the year I find out that I have been mispronouncing someone's name all year and they have been too polite to tell me. Then I really do feel like an idiot.

Anonymous said...

You are so freakin funny!!!!!!!!!!
You should have your own stand up act - no kidding - I would definately watch ya.
(is that the way you give an internet hug??)

Anonymous said...

That is too freaking much... wouldn't go as far as too call you Dumbass though. I have a daughter named Aidyn and when she was a bald little baby I understood people calling her a "him"... now though at 3 years old with pigtails and Dora dress on we both think the people saying how old is your son are Dumbasses at least you knew Omar/Lamar was a boy :) Bridget in Canada

Kelly said...

Don't be embarrassed! The first dad should have corrected you from the beginning. When you said "Are you Omar's Dad" he should have said "No, I'm Lamar's Dad". You could have been talking about another child altogether for all he knew at that point! Would have saved you the embarrassment from the get-go!

Katy said...

I called my husband the wrong name for the first two weeks we dated. He was too nice to correct me, and to be fair, it is an uncommon name. It happens...

Sharon said...

(Briefly coming out of Lurk Mode)

I'm smiling at the irony of your trying to make the guys feel so comfortable for an hour and a half while they were doing the exact same thing for you (grin).

(Lurk Mode back on)

Stacia said...

You are a hoot! That story was just what I needed tonight.

Cindi said...

Oh Kristie...I can't tell you how hard I'm laughing. But I'm laughing WITH you, not AT you, hahaha! This story is something that my family would expect to hear about me. I can thoroughly embarass myself in no time flat, and I absolutely LOVE that I'm not the only one with that ability!

Trish in Leesburg, VA said...

just got back from vacation and caught up on your blog- and now I am laughing at the whole name mix-up! :) Reminds me of a Bible study teacher whose son had a friend named DeShawn. She kept calling him Shawn and he didn't correct her, but when she had dropped him off her son (totally embarassed) was like "mom, it's DE-Shawn, not Shawn!". They were probably thankful that you were being so non-judgemental and nice to them that they didn't want to risk offending you by correcting the mistake. But you can definitely blame it on Kellen!

Jacqueline said...


mom25in5 said...


Did that at a job interview once...I was interviewing at Honda, kept referring to Toyota being a great product, sales force, etc. Yeah, that was embarassing. Still got the job though!


Aaah-they're-asleep-Mom to:


Mama Bear said...

This is too funny. They should have corrected you early on - so you wouldn't feel uncomfortable. But it sounds like they are a nice couple to enjoy the sidelines with.

My youngest, Marissa, is often called Melissa. I've told her it's her responsibility to make sure people know the correct pronunciation. I'm not with her 24 hrs a day and you just have to learn to stand up for yourself.

We have a family delineation about "brown" people too - though in our neck of the woods, that's our neighbors from India, Pakistan, etc. My good friend is black and says "I'm not African-American. I've never been to Africa. I am black!"