We went out for ice cream after dinner tonight, and triggered by the almonds in her Rocky Road ice cream, Zoe said, "At lunch the other day, three boys were doing this (the infamous eye-pulling gesture) and saying 'Chinese eyes! Chinese eyes!' at me."
There was a similar episode at school last year, different boys, and not directed at Zoe, but just done in front of her. She handled it well, but was naturally upset. Tonight she was pretty matter-of-fact about it (I'm not sure if that's an improvement, actually).
I asked what she did, and boy, was I proud of her response: "I said, 'Hey, guys, those aren't Chinese eyes, these (pointing at her own eyes) are Chinese eyes!'" Said, by the way, in the same tone she uses when she thinks I'm an idiot! For once, I was quite impressed with her smart mouth!
We brainstormed over ice cream about what to do about it, and talked about the school rules about teasing and bullying. Zoe hadn't thought of it as bullying, and couldn't really define what bullying was, just that bullying wasn't allowed. She knows from school to tell a grown-up about bullying, but that isn't much help when she doesn't know what bullying is. Seems a flaw in the school's anti-bullying curriculum.
Zoe is still thinking about whether she wants me to tell her teacher about the episode, though she agrees I can tell the teacher of the fault in the anti-bullying program. I've given her until parent-teacher conference in September to decide whether to share about the Chinese-eyes teasing, and with names or without them. Zoe handled it so well I don't feel the need to intervene immediately, but if it happens again, all bets are off.
As I said last time, I am so glad we've been pro-active about the possibility of racial teasing and negative adoption comments and the like. (We've role-played these kinds of situations several times.) I think that really helped Zoe feel empowered to handle this on her own -- which, of course, is when these incidents will happen, when she's not with me, but on her own.
Maya came up with the best response for future use -- she pushed in, rather than pulling out, the corners of her eyes and said, "English eyes! English eyes!" I almost choked on my ice cream!