What is blue and black and black and brown and beautiful?

This is a game that Isla and I play. This game has saved me from many tears, both hers and mine, and it has also given me a lot to think about.

When Isla was just 2 years old, she could tell you the eye color of every single person in our family and a lot of our friends. It started with her just saying, “Auntie Cole has blue eyes. Sisi has blue eyes. Daddy has brown eyes.” On and on. She began it on her own and then, when I realized that she was some sort of eye color savant, I began to quiz her. “What color are Uncle Jesse’s eyes. What about Uncle Brad?” She was right. Every. Single. Time. It was weird, but I didn’t really think too much about it, I took it for what it was, that she was noticing our eye color. Looking back now, I can see that she was noticing our differences.

A couple of months ago, Isla (who is now 4 ½) and I were in the car when she pointed out that I had blue eyes and she had brown. This wasn’t really anything new, like I said, she has noticed this for years. But this time she wasn’t just telling me my eye color, she was explaining to me that my eyes were not like hers. She began to cry, sob actually, and told me, “But I want blue eyes like you.”

You probably can’t imagine unless you were there and I’m not good enough of a writer to really explain what it was like at that moment, but my heart broke. She was noticing that we were different, and she wanted to be the same.

I told her I wished I had brown eyes, that brown eyes were my favorite, just like hers and daddy’s and that brown eyes were beautiful. She cried for a while. My heart cracked into tiny pieces. Then I was finally able to distract her by playing a game of “I Spy”.

This is how we roll:  Isla is doing some sort of bunny ears thing and I’m wearing a zip tie necklace she made me, because that’s the sort of thing you do when you’re a girl and a mom. 


This happened several times over the next few weeks, almost always when we were in the car. Then, the other day we were driving home through Bothell, I remember the exact moment, she was again saying that she wished she had blue eyes like mine and I was again saying I wished I had brown eyes like hers. I looked in my rearview mirror at the cutest, most adorable face in the world and said, “Isla, I spy something that is brown and beautiful. What is it?”

She thought for a moment and then a smile spread across her sparkly face as she giggled, “My eyes! Me!”

“You’re right, sweet girl.” The pieces of my heart superglued themselves back together.

“Mom,” she said, “what’s black and blue and beautiful?”

“Me?” I guessed.

“Yeah, because you have black hair like me and blue eyes.” We played a few more rounds and then on Isla’s turn she asked me, “I spy something that is blue and black and black and brown and beautiful.”

“Us?” I asked.

“Yeah!” She screamed.

We play this game all the time now. It’s her favorite and its mine too, because it always has the perfect ending. We’re different, but we’re the same.



Half of something that is blue and black and black and brown and beautiful

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