Talking Hands

A conversation with Sam in the car.

Mom: Can you tell me why you had a hard time listening in school today?

Sam: I was frustrated that I am the only person with my color skin at school.

Mom:  I don’t know what that is like Sam. But I can imagine it is hard at times. I wish it was different, and it will be next year. But that isn’t going to help you with your listening ears tomorrow.

Sam: We did hand prints. I don’t like having to find my color to make my skin with.

Mom Why not? Do they have the color you want to use?

Sam: Yes. I use all the colors.

Mom: That’s cool!

Sam: I know.

Mom: What does that have to do with listening do you think?

Sam: When (insert classmate’s name here) saw my hand print he said my color was stupid.

Mom: What did you do?

Sam: I told him he was more stupid then my painted hand.

Mom: Did that make you both feel better?

Sam: Mom, can I not answer that question?


  1. It’s hard when our children ask questions and we can give good answers. This happens with a range of issues. I’m struggling with why my daughter has allergies/asthama/sinus infections so often, and frequent doctor visits and how much she doesn’t like being sick so often. Of course this is a more temporary issue than Sam’s but it’s been going on for so long it feels permanent.
    I love the colors of the handprint.

    • Frances-I agree that it is hard when you can’t find the answers. For me right now listening to how he talks about his experience is what is guiding my framing of it, and what my next steps are, more then my trying to answer it. (Because as you infer, I don’t have answers!) This might not be the same as a medical situation but I can see how as parents the two are very related! Thanks for the connection here.

  2. How poignant. Sam sounds so self-aware and perceptive. My little one is younger than yours so not asking the same level of questions yet, but like you I try to listen and validate her feelings. When she does ask questions, I have been trying to answer the question she asked without additional information; so much of their questioning, I think, is a way to try and figure out the big world around them. Another way it is humbling to be a parent.

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