Well…it’s been happening more and more often, now that we have children. Other children, seeing us with our twin boys, ask the inevitable. “Who’s babies are they?”, or “Which one is yours?” Children who don’t know us look at us quizzically – back and forth, trying to make sense of it all.
Tonight, we had family visiting us from Texas. Our sweet 7 year old niece K was quietly watching Steph and I, and she looked utterly confused when I called out several times to my “honey”. Finally, she couldn’t take it any more.
“Is she your mom?”, K asked me, while she floated in the pool. I quickly gloated (I’m so blessed to look so youthful) and then said “Nope.”
“Should I say more?”, I thought. But I distracted myself with keeping the boys upright in the pool.
I didn’t need to wait long before the next question came.
“Do y’all live here together?”
“Oh yes”, I said. And made funny faces at the boys.
More swimming and silence. I continued to gloat about my youthful charm.
“What is she, then?”, K asked me.
I had to tell her then. “She’s my partner.”
With no pause, she asked “What kind of partner?”
“My life partner.”
“Oh.” She nodded, like she understood.
But the thing is, she didn’t understand. She was truly trying to make sense out of everything, and I was not being helpful in the least. In fact, I was being rather obstructionist.
It really bugs me that I didn’t have the hutzpah to tell her what Steph and I are to each other. To take this experience and turn it into a teaching moment and explain to K about how two women can love each other, or two men, and that there are all different types of families, and that they are all beautiful. That God, or spirit, or whatever you believe in, doesn’t make mistakes. To show her that we are just like other families. To help plant the seed of tolerance, so that it spreads.
K is a very sweet girl, but ignorance breeds hostility, and if we can show others that we’re normal, loving, parents that are no different than their own parents, then that’s probably about the most important thing we can do.
But, I didn’t say or do any of these things. Instead, I continued to float in the pool, acting like I had no elephant to address in the room. Why did I sit there floating, like a spineless idiot?
Honestly, I’m shy about all of this. I feel like it’s not my place to explain it – that it’s their parent’s place. I don’t want to overstep my boundaries. I say that, and yet I have the gut instinct that I need to get over myself. That parents would probably prefer if I explained it in my own words. And, honestly, I really irritate myself when I am quiet about it – like there’s something wrong.
I’ve never once in my life felt like there was anything wrong with being in love with a woman, so I’m not sure where my hesitation comes from.
Thoughts? Should I get over myself and matter of factly explain things to a 7 year old? Or should I leave that to her parents?