My 6-year-old daughter, aka the Schmoopette, is about to join a brand-new Daisy Troop at her elementary school. In it will be several of her closest friends in the world (we mothers were pretty much commanded by our kindergartners to enroll them -- and it's hard to fight a pack of pleading five-and-six-year-old girls). Those friends (thanks to us living in a diverse suburb of the nation's capital) are everything from traditionally biracial to half-Jewish, half-German, white Mormon to black adopted by white parents, to name just a few of the girls.
While I think how wonderful it is that we can still find a culturally heterogeneous community outside of New York -- where our oldest son's preschool class was once completely multicultural except for two white kids who had gay parents -- what I think is even more wonderful is that my daughter doesn't really "see" the diversity the same way.
She has no idea that our decision to move to this neighborhood instead of the smallest house in a tonier neighborhood with the best high-schools in the State was motivated by our desire to make sure our kids didn't go to schools -- even fantastic ones -- that were 80 or 90-percent white and Jewish. She just has friends, period. Despite knowing about adoption, she didn't even realize her good friend was adopted, despite the fact her friend is black and both her parents are white. She said to me one day late last year, "I just thought they didn't match on the outside, the way you and Daddy don't match but still belong together," so I told her, "That's right, we match on the inside."
And that's how we've come to think about race. People may not look like they "belong together." I may always get asked where I "got" my kids from (they all look tremendously alike, but our oldest looks more Filipino, our daughter Polynesian, and our baby Chinese), and they will have friends who ask them sweetly and possibly one day not-so-sweetly, "What are you?" But that's OK, because my daughter has learned, without me even having to really teach her, that it's who you are, who you love, what people you "belong to" on the inside that counts.