Being a mom has been one of the best experiences of my entire life. I’ve learned so much from my boys, and I hope they’ll say the same about me as they get older. Now, I consider myself a very creative professional, but I also want to facilitate that creativity in my kids’ development. That’s why I became a children’s book author. When my children began asking questions about various aspects of our family and friend relationships, I wanted to respond to and reach them on their level. Thus, my second children’s book, Baxter, was born! It’s so much more than a children’s book, though. Baxter is a tool that can help you foster kindness and confidence in your children as they navigate the world and the people around them.
Who is Baxter?
Baxter Birdie is a little kid bird who’s very connected to the members of his community. He likes to walk around his village and be friendly with all of his neighbors. One day, just like any kid, he decides to count his neighbors. He realizes some of them live in pairs, and a few even look alike. Others, he noticed, are best friends with each other but look nothing alike. Baxter starts to consider all the things that make his friends different. This is the first time he notices this about his community, and it piques his curiosity.
Throughout the book Baxter ponders what all of this means: why some friends are different and others similar, and how they can be so close within those differences. If you’re a parent, you may notice when your kids get curious, they like to ask questions to seek understanding. That’s exactly what Baxter does. He has conversations with each of his friends, and they each tell him about their relationships and families. It’s an eye-opening journey for Baxter. He learns that the beauty of his neighborhood and friends lies in the reality of them being so different—and that’s okay! It’s completely fine to not be like others. It’s a great coming-of-age scenario that all parents will relate to.
A Message About Acceptance
When I decided to start my family, I did so in a pretty traditional way. My then-husband and I were a two-parent household raising two young babies together. That’s the way I saw things going…but life had other plans. Personal circumstances took a turn, and I decided to go it alone as a single mom to raise my two kids. Becoming a single mom was a challenge. I had many hills to climb, and I wondered how I would be perceived. I wondered how life would change. While it wasn’t an easy decision to make, it turned out to be the most empowering decision I could have gone with. My family and children are thriving, I found my strength, and life got exponentially better.
We’ve been very blessed to live in one of the most diverse regions in the U.S. Los Angeles is a place where you can find a little bit of everyone. Even in our own neighborhood you can drive a few blocks in any direction, from one side to another, and be surrounded by a completely different culture than the one you live in. My family and friends both fall into many types of groups that are diverse: ethnicity, age, gender, hair, skin tone, and even family structure. And we delight in celebrating those differences.
I wrote the children’s book Baxter because, as my kids got older, they started to identify differences in others. Likewise, their friends started to identify differences in my boys. Kids at the park would ask about my boys’ hair being different. I’ve always been the parent who never shied away from questions, even when other parents chastised their kids for noticing and asking. I think it’s okay for kids to be curious about those things because I believe differences make us all beautiful. I wanted my kids to know that noticing differences isn’t a bad thing, and neither is being your own individual. Having different types of families and friends isn’t just okay, it’s wonderful! Our lives are richer when we are able to engage and be in community with people who bring something new to our lives.
Starting the Kid Conversations
I have two talkative, very inquisitive boys who notice EVERYTHING and want to discuss what they see, what they know, and what they don’t understand. Much like what I did with my first children’s book, Carbie, I wanted to provide a way for parents to talk to their kids about what it means to be different, and what it means to notice other people’s differences and not be afraid of them. As a parent, I think it’s important for kids to know they shouldn’t view differences in a negative light, and parents shouldn’t be afraid to have these conversations with children. If we’re comfortable enough to talk to our kids about differences and to explain them well, we raise more accepting human beings who grow to appreciate and celebrate others.
Writing Baxter became a way for me to explain to my kids that, while they have a mom and dad who love them but live in separate homes, they might have a classmate who has two moms, or a peer who may not have a mom or dad at all. They may have classmates being raised by a grandmother or a single dad. I want my sons to understand that some families have multiple kids, and many only have one. Some families live in large houses with extended families, and others have small families. All of these configurations are right and okay. What matters most is finding and being with your people. That could be an adult finding another adult to share life with, or a kid finding a best buddy, close friend, or group of people who enjoy each other.
A Book For Families
I hope Baxter opens many opportunities to talk about diversity in personal and family relationships. Seeing someone different isn’t an anomaly in the world we live in, and it shouldn’t feel strange or novel to children. Baxter birdie comes to the understanding of accepting and seeing the beauty in the variety of relationships we all have. And, he realizes we are all better beings and a better society for embracing diverse people in our lives, neighborhoods and communities. After all, we as a collective are what makes the world the amazing place that it is.
Click here to get your family’s copy of Baxter!