Saturday, December 18, 2010

To understand Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell, lets look at an intolerant third-grader

At preschool pickup yesterday, Karen got to talking to one of the other moms.  This mom, like us, has an older daughter.  Hers is in third-grade, ours in first.  The third-grader's been getting teased by a boy in her class. 

Why is the daughter being teased?  Well, she has two mommies.  Ooh, shocking, I know.  In the bay area, it should be as shocking as ordering a decaf, nonfat latte - but here's this little snot-nosed third grade boy, coming onstage to show us that you don't have to be an adult to be a jerk.

One day this week, the mom was picking her daughter up from school.  The little boy decided that taunting his classmate was so easy, he'd go after the mom, too.  So he asks her, he asks - Are you gay?  And the mom says, she says - Yes.  And the boy shoots back - That's gross.

The mom is startled.  She's suffered slings and arrows, sure, but usually not from a third-grader.  She recovers fast, though, and tells him that his comment is inappropriate.  I would have told him more, but I'm Greek.  Quick to anger, right?  With any luck, though, quick also to forgive.

The mom?  Because she's nicer than I am, she leaves it at that.  And I'd leave it at that, except for a conversation Karen had with our girls.  The two-mommy thing came up, and our oldest asked for clarification.  Karen said that a classmate of our youngest indeed has two mommies.  This news caused our oldest to furrow her brow and shout out - Hey, not fair!

God, I love that kid.

Now, I'm not here to say that I'm raising my kids better than you.  I mean, I could, right?  We all think that, right?  But I won't because, Lord, the night we just had - trying to get the kids down without a torrent of tears?  It makes the truth intrude, and Dr. Spock I ain't.

And I know I can be a better dad.  I'm aware of my shortcomings (at least the really obvious ones - you can help me out with the rest).  With that said - I can't tell you how gratifying it is to know that when my daughter hears about an acquaintance with two mommies, she's all indignant at the unfair world that saddled her with only one.  Because at least, for that moment, I can remind myself that Karen and I are doing something right.

Our girls may not sit still through an entire meal at a restaurant - but you know what?  In time they'll figure out that other diners - complete strangers - do not want to have their meals interrupted by two little girls interested in practicing their cha-cha-cha.

That lesson, in the long run?  Easy to teach.  Tolerance?  Not so much.

Because I've got a little girl who thinks that two mommies is way cooler than a mommy and a boring old daddy . . . because I've got a girl who thinks that way - even though she's in close proximity to some third-grade thug who's been taught by his own daddy (or mommy, or both) that people who are different are inferior - I'm going to enjoy her for just a bit, ok?

I mean - before I begin reviewing some of my more questionable parenting tactics of the day.  But for right now?  Allow me a brief revel.  I fear that we're given so many of these brilliant moments each day - and that we don't savor them enough, and instead dwell on the negative.  Tomorrow I'll try and remind both kids how happy they make me, how I marvel at the character that each possesses.

I'll forget, of course.  I'll forget that when Karen was reading to the girls - our oldest stopped her and asked, What's a scoundrel?  And then, before Karen could answer, our three-year-old said, Um, it's a person who steals.  Right, mommy?

And though I just love that, I'll forget it.  I'll forget it the way I forget so many of the precious details that make up our lives.  But I'll try and remember, I'll try.  And the trying is enough, sometimes.

Sometimes, it's enough.

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