The Neapolitan Effect: Navigating in Today’s World as a Multiracial Family

“Oh my God! Your boys are so BEAUTIFUL! I know that’s not what you’re supposed to say about little boys but…”

“I just want you to know that we (restaurant staff) just love when you guys come here to eat! We talk about you guys all the time! Like, I just can’t stop staring at your family…”

“Does he still want the [insert the boys’ menu choice here]? I remember you guys from last time…”

“Oh, their hair is AMAZING! Those curls! Do you know how much it would cost for me to get that hair color??”

Ah, to be THAT family. You know, the one that stands out at grocery stores, restaurants, church, the car rider line at school. It’s not because we are Gucci’d up, dripping in diamonds, rolling in Rolls Royces.  Oh no! We stand out because we’re the physical version of a pint of Neapolitan ice cream: Chocolate, Vanilla, who swirled with greatness and created two sons who are clearly …well, beautifully blended. And, sometimes, people can get stuck on the fact that, like the ice cream, the colors are touching.

Look, we get it. It’s kind of hard to NOT see my family when we go places. My husband is over six feet with fiery red hair and beard. Pale skin, green eyes. I’m bodacious (go look it up; that’s certainly ME!), Hershey skin with eyes the color of chocolate chips. Our little Spartans are tall for their ages, with caramel skin tones and hair the color of a penny, both tarnished and new. How can you not take a double look at such a stunning view? We truly understand. And one of the things we love about living in Lafayette is that, for the most part, it has been a wonderful place to live as a multiracial family.

However, I would like to offer you a bit of perspective:

Our family is probably very similar to yours!

We work hard, participate in extracurricular activities, and attend community engagements. We love to spend time trying new things, eating new foods, and exploring new places. My husband and I are intentional in prioritizing our relationship, even on tough days. Our lives can get overwhelming at times as we strive to manage a healthy work/life balance. We try to parent our kids to the best of our ability. We want what is best for our community. We live and love and connect. Just like you.

So, what exactly are you saying, Natalie? Do you want us to ignore you and your family when we see you in public? No, here is what I am saying.

Instead of not-so silently rousing your whole group to look at my family in a restaurant, come over and say hi. Try, “Hi, my name is [insert name here]. Your family is beautiful.” Don’t start asking prying questions, right off the bat, like, “This (our family) is so interesting! How did you two meet?” And, for the love of God, don’t take pictures of my kids without permission! (Yes, people have indeed took pictures of our kids at a party, my brother’s wedding, VEGAS, just to name a few. “I’m sorry but they are so cute!” Yes, we have experienced this. And their phones barely survived my rage.)

We are not some kind of fetish; we are a real-life family. Don’t let our physical presentation be where your interest ends. Instead of being preoccupied with what we look like, get to know us. I promise, we make great friends!

 

Natalie is a nomadic spirit who loves to travel but has always called Louisiana home. Born and raised in Lafayette, she grew up with five brothers and so she feels that being a #boymom was destiny. Marriage and babies were a late blessing as she became a wife and mother in her mid-thirties but she wouldn’t have it any other way. Life with her husband, Wayne, and two sons, Edison and Oliver, is always full of laughter; there’s never a dull moment with those three! Natalie is a Licensed Social Worker and currently works with children in the charter school system. Providing support for children in need is her life’s purpose. In her mind, social work and motherhood go hand in hand. Creating an environment where kids feel safe, loved and valued as individuals go a long way to building well-adjusted adults. Natalie explores social work and motherhood both here at Lafayette Mom and on her site Connect. Learn. Grow. at nataliebunner.com.