We have a box of multigrain Cheerios in our pantry at all times. They are a breakfast staple here and my daughter asks for them regularly.
She calls them "mixed Os."
We stopped buying the regular, traditional Cheerios a while ago. When given the choice, she always chose mixed.
Sometimes she even furthers the mixing. Pouring in a bit of fruity Os, of a different brand, for a bit of color. As a weekend treat, we sometimes let her mix some honey bunches of oats in there too. Yes, a different kind of cereal all together.
I've never tasted her blends. But, as I watch her over my cup of coffee, happily munching away, I imagine they are yummy.
We've never talked about it but I'm pretty sure she prefers her mixed Os over others because mixing is fun. Mixing is special.
Ours is a mixed race family. I was born to American parents. My husband was born to Indian parents. Our children are beautiful blends of people and histories and religions and cultures. And, above all else, love.
We live in a coastal, metropolitan area. With DC so close by, we can run into a half dozen different languages at the grocery store. At my daughter's preschool holiday show, Deck the Halls was sandwiched between a song about Hanukkah and one about Diwali, dutifully celebrating the festivals and holidays of all of the school's students. Encountering and embracing culture and diversity is a way of life.
It is such a way of life, for us, that it rarely occurs to me that it is not everyone's way of life.
It rarely occurs to me that families like ours attract attention when they go out together. That maybe we attract attention sometimes. And that all of that attention can come laced with hate spurned on by ignorance and incredibly closed minds.
It is such a way of life, for us, that I just don't get it. I don't get the hate.
I get not understanding. I get that not everything is for everyone. I do. To be perfectly honest, when given the choice between my girl's mixed Os and regular Cheerios, I reach for the yellow box every time. It's what I grew up with and it's what I like. And before my girl came along, I don't think I ever mixed two cereals together. I don't think it ever occurred to me.
But I love that she mixes it up.
I love that she brings together different things and makes them work. I love that, in her world, there is no reason why differences should keep two cereals apart.
When you think about it, all families are about mixing. Even when two people from the same state or the same city or the same neighborhood come together, they are still mixing. Personalities, histories, families, values. Mixing happens. It's what humans do.
Because mixing is fun. Mixing is special.
Mixing is beautiful.
I wish that everyone got that. I wish that we didn't immediately jump to hate that which we do not understand. I wish everyone understood that love is love and family is family and love that is shared and family that is made - these things are beautiful regardless. Regardless.
In our home, we will keep mixing. Cereals and playdough and family and friends. We'll keep teaching her that mixing is fun and mixing is special. We'll encourage her to share her love of mixing with the world around her in the hopes that her entire generation will mix it up. And that years from now, she and her family can eat their mixed Os together and nobody will even blink an eye.
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