What makes children so incredible is their innocence and pure cu*iosi!y. They say whatever is on their mind and asks whatever question that pops into their brain. Holland is a little girl who adores longtime waitress, Mrs. Cynthia. She works at one of Holland’s favorite restaurants, Waffle House in Fort Myers. Mrs. Cynthia has known Holland since she was a baby and always seats her in her favorite corner booth and brings her favorite raisin bread and apple juice.
They chat about what is going on in each other’s lives and even pray for one another. Mary Katherine Backstrom, an author, penned a book in Mrs. Cynthia’s section of the restaurant, sipping on endless cups of coffee the waitr-ess brought to fuel her creativity. But no one adored Mrs. Cynthia quite like little Holland.
In fact, Holland wanted her birthday parties at the Waffle House. She’s such a regular there that Mrs. Cynthia places her order when she sees her car pull in. Their relationship is beautiful, full of nothing but admiration and fond-ness for each other.
Until one day, Holland stunned her mom with a question she posed to Mrs. Cynthia. You could’ve heard a pin drop during the silence that ensued. Mary Katherine’s heartbeat triple time. “Mrs. Cynthia, I want to have da*k skin like you. Why is your skin so da*k?”
But Mary Katherine shouldn’t have pa*icked. Mrs. Cynthia answered her question with honesty so raw and beautiful that it taught Holland and Mary Katherine both a life lesson.
“Because God made everyone different! Isn’t that wonderful?!”
Holland nodded yes. But still had more childlike, earnest questions for her buddy. The most important to her, of course, pertained to her favorite Disney character.
“But, Mrs. Cynthia—if I had your skin, we could both dress up like Tiana!” Mrs. Cynthia couldn’t stop laughing over her little friend’s sweet response. “You can dress like Tiana any time, honey.”
And just like that, the teachable moment was gone, a life lesson learned by Holland and Mary Katherine both.
“My three-year-old daughter sees the difference between a black woman and a white woman. Human beings aren’t born oblivious to our differences. And honestly, in so many ways, pretending these differences don’t exist is an in*ult.
What we must do—intentionally—is teach our children to see and APPRECIATE the things that make God’s people so unique. Whether that be their race, nationality, or religious beliefs… We need to talk about these things. Because, spoiler alert: our kids ALREADY see them.”
Even though Mary Katherine froze when Holland innocently broached the subject of race with the woman she adores who happens to have a different skin color, she realized it was because she didn’t want to mess up her response. She didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by saying the w*ong thing. She wanted her daughter to know that skin color just doesn’t matter.
“…fear is a liar. And silence is a terrible teacher. Thank God for the wisdom and grace of Mrs. Cynthia. Moving forward, I won’t stop my children from asking questions about the world around them. I won’t shush them into silence and teach them that ‘difference’ is a dangerous or taboo topic.
Instead, I will tell them this simple, honest-to-goodness truth, straight from the mouth of our dear friend, Mrs. Cynthia: ‘God made everybody different. And isn’t that wonderful?’”
What a bru*ally honest and beautiful parenting moment that Mary Katherine shared with everyone online. We can only hope that all children just like Holland grow up seeing the beauty inside everyone and not just what’s on the outside.