Wednesday, June 26, 2013

“Mom, what’s lesbi?”

In honor of today’s joyful, love-affirming SCOTUS decisions, let me tell you a little story of something that happened a few months ago.  I’ll preface the story by saying that I let my kids watch youtube videos on their ipads.  And the occasional Gangnam Style or Baby Monkey sing-along aside, 99% of the videos they watch are Mario and Kirby play-alongs.  Basically, adolescent or adult guys, playing video games, and talking while they play.  I monitored it for a while, because I have learned that any Mario-related video on youtube is one click away from excessive profanity (which I don’t really care about that much, because let’s be honest, it’s probably no worse than what they hear from me), but also no more than three clicks away from Mario-related porn.  Yes, people make Mario porn.  Yes, really. 

So… I monitored their youtube consumption, but as you can imagine, listening to hours on end of adolescent (or protracted adolescent) boys playing video games while you’re trying to work, read, or play Candy Crush can get old real fast.  So imagine my joy when they settled on one favorite gamer.  This guy is a celebrity in our house.  Half of the phrases that come out of my son’s mouth can be traced back to his new online friend.  And I’ve listened to enough of this guy’s videos to know that he’s pretty reasonable.  So I let them watch his videos in their room without me listening, or with headphones.  Blissful silence.

That brings us to the story.  One fine evening, as I settled down to watch TV with my hubs, our children nestled snug in their beds, visions of Mario play-alongs glowing in front of their heads, my son comes out and asks, “Mom, what’s lesbi?”

“You mean lesbian?”

“Yeah, lesbian.”

“Where did you hear that?”

Youtube, obvi. 

So no big, I tell him that that’s what you call a woman who loves and wants to marry another woman.  And that a man who loves and wants to marry another man is called gay.  We never talk about marriage in our house without the option of either/any gender as a partner, so it’s not new information for them.  We’ve even already talked with them about how some people think a man can only marry a woman and a woman can only marry a man, and how ridiculous that is. 

Then he asks me, “Can I say lesbi at school?”

Shit.  He knows that our home rules are more lax than school rules.  I don’t let them say stupid or hate at home, but most other words… eh… I’d rather teach them that part of being allowed to say “grown-up words” is being grown-up enough to know when NOT to say them.  So lesbi… home-only word or OK-everywhere word?  It’s a hard question.

It’s a hard question???  No!!  WTF!  No, that should not be a hard question.  And yet, I hesitated.  While Maryland is a blue state, the area where we live is kind of purple.  It’s pretty darn socially conservative around here.  Can he say lesbi at school?  I don’t actually know.  I don’t know if the teachers would tell him not to say it.  I don’t know if the other parents would be angry if their kids learned the word lesbian from my kid. 

Are you effing kidding me?  Am I really having to think about this? Nothing about that is OK.  I’ve been angry about some of the religious stuff other kids have taught my kids at school.  So let them be angry if my kid teaches their kid about love in every form.  Love is my religion, if anything is, so let my kids proselytize that on the playground. 

“Yes, honey, you can say lesbian at school.  But some people might think that it’s a mean word or a bad word.  It’s not a mean word or a bad word, but people who think that a woman shouldn’t marry a woman might think that it’s a bad word.  So you can say it at school, but if the teacher tells you not to, then you listen to her, OK?”

The end. 

Except to say this.  Please, please let me live to see the day when I wouldn’t have to think twice.  The tide is turning, but we’re not there yet. 

1 comment:

  1. We have had almost exactly the same discussion at our house, except to explain the word "gay," not the word "lesbian." We had the discussion over dinner while we were watching news coverage about gay marriage. Your analysis about whether or not your kids can say "lesbian" at school is exactly on target. Yes! Yes, they can say it at school as long as it is used in an appropriate and respectful sentence. If their classmates' parents are offended or angry, tough. I have not been happy about their kids telling my kids that God made the world or answering questions about who is Jesus and why does he love me? I also was not happy that Katherine came home from camp yesterday and wanted to show me this funny song a friend had taught her - "Chinese, Japanese, dirty knees, look at these!" - complete with the hand motions. Ugh! We used it as a teaching moment - maybe allowing our kids to talk about lesbians in a completely normal way will allow others to have a teaching moment as well. Thanks for spreading the religion of love.