"She has my eyes, Dad."
Nolan, one of my 11-year-old twin sons, told me this on a recent weekend as he compared himself to his sister Izzy, who turns 2 today.
I stopped Facebooking on my iPhone and looked across our living room at him. Nolan was playing with Izzy and taking particular interest in her big brown eyes. You know, the really heart-melting kind of eyes.
He realized I was watching him interact with Izzy, and he cast a stare from his own brown eyes into my blue ones.
Nolan then seemed to remember the comment he had just made — about Izzy having his eyes and obviously not mine — and he burst into laughter. I did, too.
That's because, for those who don't already know, my beautiful little girl looks nothing like anyone else in our family.
She's black. Her mother and I — and our twin sons — are white.
But as my daughter celebrates her second birthday today, it has become very apparent to all of us how devoid of meaning our different skin colors truly are.
Nolan's comment about his sister having his eyes carries a great deal of wisdom from which I believe we all can learn.
You see, Nolan didn't make the statement as a joke, even though we ended up laughing anyway. He was serious until he fully comprehended his own words.
From the time of her birth, Izzy has been a part of our family through the magic of adoption —something I've written about in previous columns.
Neither Nolan, nor his blue-eyed fraternal twin brother Connor, could be any closer to a sibling than they are to Sissy, as they like to call her.
Watching them bond in the past two years — bearing witness to their melding of sibling spirits —has been a true joy of parenthood for which I never bargained in my younger days before marriage and family.
Two years into Izzy's time in this family, the issue of color is proving irrelevant — except for the beauty radiating from my daughter's complexion.
On Izzy's second birthday, I remain ever thankful to the downstate teen birth mother who chose my wife and I as the adoptive parents to this wonderful little girl.
I'm thankful for a wife and sons who typically only remember Izzy's different skin color as an afterthought — usually when someone asks about it.
And I'm thankful for the ability to laugh when comments are made about the differences in our skin tones.
Perhaps part of the laughter is generated by our firsthand knowledge of how silly the concept of skin color as a dividing factor truly is.
Our experience makes a strong argument for disposing of the label of race when referring to skin color. Every member of my family is from the same race.
Today, I'm going to remind Nolan about the eye-color comment he made on a Saturday morning a few weeks ago.
We'll still be able to laugh about it, but he needs to know something else.
Izzy — who calls her brothers by name, waves her arms and demands their attention the way only a 2-year-old can — really does have Nolan's eyes.
Lucky for this dad, she also has both her brothers' hearts.