A Good Home

Myrtle the Purple Turtle

I’m moved by what my daughter Lauren – who inspired Myrtle’s story — has to say on her blog this week.

laurenreyesgrange_cynthiareyes_blackdoll

Lauren Reyes-Grange, Digital Marketer

My first childhood memory of school was being bullied by my peers for having a black doll. I was 4 years old and my black cabbage patch doll Quentin, was in my opinion, the bees knees.. until some kids in my class called him dirty and said they wouldn’t play with me if I had Quentin with me. This hurt – a lot.

My 4-year-old self believed Quentin was a character in his own right and his skin colour resembled so many people in my family. But wanting to fit in and make friends, I started leaving Quentin at home and eventually my parents caught on. I don’t remember much from that time but I do remember feeling like I didn’t belong, that I was different and there was something wrong with me that made me different. You can read more about the story here, but what the…

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48 thoughts on “Myrtle the Purple Turtle”

  1. I am glad to hear Lauren stuck to her guns and asked for that P.J. Sparkles black doll. And such a wonderful book resulted from her experience, although I am quietly crying about what she went through at school.

    Stereotypes of any kind can be a horrible thing for a child to deal with. Your posts on Myrtle remind me of an incident that happened when I was in 2nd Grade. About that time, I think it was Lays Potato Chips that started including medallions of astronauts in the bags of chips. I was fascinated by the thought of being an astronaut and traveling to the stars. Then there came to inevitable question to the class from the teacher about what did we want to be when we grew up. When my turn came up, I said I wanted to be an astronaut. Immediately, silence fell, and all the children turned and looked at me as if I were from another planet. I was told being an astronaut was only for boys. I was crushed, and felt like an outsider and a freak. That sort of thing happened from time to time over the years, but I have been pleased to watch stereotypes start to fall, one at a time. Change comes slowly for our species. We have along way to go.
    https://www.space.com/31616-nasa-first-female-astronauts-anniversary.html

    1. “I have been pleased to watch stereotypes start to fall, one at a time. Change comes slowly for our species.” You’re a wise woman, Lavinia. It’s remarkable how, reading your childhood experience, a lump came to my throat. I could actually see the young Lavinia in the classroom and feel a hint of the hurt you felt. Yes, there have been many changes – for us, the lucky ones — and so many changes still to be made. I’m sad for every life’s dream dashed by punitive role expectations, and all the people whose great talent was never put to use. My mother put her work into her children because of the opportunities she was denied. When people asked me, after the accident, why I kept trying to return to work, kept trying to do my part, how to explain that to them? I’m so grateful to the earlier generations who had to endure such a tough time but kept going.

  2. I love the tale of the purple turtle as a way to help children understand that we are all different. I never understood why they made all dolls white in the first place. I’m sure your book will do very well and I know there is a market for it.

  3. people can be so cruel – and it is even sadder when the cruelty is perpetuated by kids. enjoyed your daughter’s post as well. very moving.
     
    thanks for sharing. and thanks for Myrtle! what a powerful message. i hope the book is loved and cherished for generations to come.

    1. I know, Helen. They were only 4 years old and I’m sure they didn’t realize the extreme hurt they caused. I hope many parents and teachers will read this book to their young children — for that reason, and for all the children in the world who can benefit by learning acceptance of themselves and others.

  4. Your daughter’s post is so thoughtful and loving and powerful. As Lavinia writes, the stereotypes are falling, but, like you, I say there are still many changes required. Yesterday, we had our general election in NZ….the dynamic, young Labour leader, Jacinda Ardern, seems to have lost out to the men in suits of the National party. It would seem that people still trust old, male, suits, and mainly white (and boring) before young, female, and inspirational. Sigh. The men in suits are good men, just no longer fit for purpose in my opinion.

    1. Sigh. It’s tough, the long time that change takes. But for every female leader who gets rejected, I hope many other women will be inspired to come forward. I see that happening in the US. It’s not that women are necessarily better political leaders, though some are. It’s more because they deserve the chance to succeed or screw up, as their male colleagues do.
      Thanks for reading Lauren’s post. I was moved by it too.

  5. Cynthia, Congratulations to you and Lauren! A very timely message and inspiration for all ages, for all of humanity. We need this now, more than ever!

  6. You both come up as totally cool people in that. But how sad that the teachers and other kids parents were letting them say that rubbish. It’s a wonderful story in itself.

    Cheers

    MTM

      1. 🙂 its true. I’m sure the teachers weren’t aware but It’s still a horrific thing for kids to think. Even when I was as at school it would have been a horrific thing to think.

  7. I loved reading Lauren’s post which I found so moving; what a wonderfully supportive family you all are!
    Children can be very cruel, but a lot of what they say is out of ignorance or what they have heard their parents say. Many parents have no idea what an influence they have on their children for good and bad.
    I remember black dolls being available here when I was little. A friend at school had one and a cousin of mine had one too but I didn’t.
    Well done for creating Myrtle and celebrating difference!

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