I was washing dishes and cleaning up the counters while Trooper finished off the last of the baked apples. "Mom, why did you pick a black boy?"
To my mind, the question came out of nowhere. I'm sure I had that dumbfounded look parents get when their kids ask 'where do babies come from', but this question of why I chose black wasn't one I could have anticipated. "Uh, well, your skin color wasn't really a factor in why I chose you. You were so sweet, and precious, and brave, and adorable that I just had to chose you. It didn't have anything to do with being black." I thought for a moment, wondering if we were on the same page at all. "I'm glad it worked out that way, though, because I really love your brown skin."
He processed for a moment, seemed to think that was good enough, and went on with his scrounging. He went on to eat some leftovers and then a tangerine.
Later, I got to thinking about our conversation, and began to wonder if he had a completely inaccurate understanding of the way things happened. It seemed almost as if he thought I predetermined his color, like special ordering a toy truck, and I was a little concerned that he might next wonder why I had made him ventilator dependent. So, silly me, I decided to bring it up before bed.
I said, "Trooper, you understand that you were born before I knew you, right? That I didn't put an order in for a brown boy, somebody made you, and sent you to me? You know that, right?"
He smiled his big, ornery smile. "Ha! No, God made me…"
"That's right…" I began, but he hadn't finished.
"… out of a skunk."
I don't know how to describe mischief in Trooper's face. This is a sad testament to my writing ability because as often as I see it, I should be able to offer a poetic description and fill your mind with a vivid mental picture. So I'll just say his face was alive with mischief, and leave it at that. "God put a skunk in a pot, and mixed it up, and made me out of it."
It took me too long to respond, but finally I said, "Is that why you're a stink pot?"
He thought this was hilarious, and laughed with his head thrown back while I stared at him in something akin to bewilderment.
"Seriously," I said. "You're brown because your birth mom is brown. I love your color, but that's not why I picked you."
I've actually explained this to him numerous times before, but it seemed to sink in this time. "Oh," he said, and I could see the understanding in his eyes. "So she's black…"
And then the conversation naturally turned back to what he was wearing to bed and what we're doing tomorrow, his mind at peace, for now, and unconfused about our difference of melanin concentration.