Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Brokeback Kid

After eleven years of parenting, I have developed an undistinquished but indispendable survival skill; that of tuning out the cacophony that seems to pervade a home in which boys reside, while still remaining cognizant of the important little snippets of information that keep me plugged in to their lives.

So the other day amid the general ruckus, I chanced to hear..

"Dude, I can't believe you like guys. That's like...SICK."

I cringed.

I knew exactly which child to whom this was addressed. It had been clear to me for some time that the young man in question was struggling with his sexual identity, and equally clear that he had a bit of a crush on my son. He is shy and softspoken with huge brown eyes, and a grin that splits his face from ear to ear. He often plays the role of peacemaker in backyard squabbles. I've never heard him say a mean word to anyone. Unfortunately for him, he's the kind of kid that wears his heart on his sleeve; in this case, rainbow striped for all the world to see and comment upon.

I waited to see if this warranted intercession on my part, hoping not to have to wade into the shark infested waters of sexual preference and designation.

"Dude, that's just wrong."
"Man, that makes me want to hurl."
"So, you're like, gay? That bites."

It was getting ugly. When they took up a rousing chorus of "Gay Kid and Straight Kid sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g" I knew I had no choice but to step in, God help me.

"Ahem...boys? I need to talk to you for a moment."

Six heads swivelled on impossibly skinny necks and six pairs of eyes regarded me with a mixture of curiosity and wariness. I took a deep breathe and tried not to hurl.

"There is nothing wrong with being Gay. And making fun of someone because of who they love is just as wrong as making fun of them because of the color of their skin."

Twelve feet shuffled in the grass, 12 eyes refused to meet mine, six faces flushed scarlet, and six mouths mumbled..."Yes, Ma'am."

"Does ummm, anybody want to ask me anything?"

My youngest, always the one willing to charge ahead when others would hang back, and never one to prevaricate, piped up.

"Mom? Is this about Sex?"

"Well, sort of, but it's really more about love."

"Oh. Well, either way, I don't think I'm ready for this. I'm only 7."

Recalling our last conversation, and trying to respect his recognition of his own limits, I agreed. I sent him in the house to play with matches or a plastic bag or something equally age appropriate. My older son, whom, I'm ashamed to say, started the whole thing, said, "Mom...why are people gay?"

Hokay...No simple insert tab A into slot B; we're going right to the philosophical fabric of the universe type stuff. Great.

"Ummm, well, nobody really knows, and I don't think there is a reason. It's like when some people like dogs and some people like cats."

Oh yes, brilliant analogy Dr. Ruth. I'm sure that cleared things right up for them. They should hire you to teach 5th grade Human Development.

Taking another deep breathe, I tried again.

"See...it doesn't make any difference if you like cats and someone else likes dogs, right? If they're a cool person and you like hanging out with them, it doesn't matter. It doesn't change who they are. It doesn't make them any better or worse than you, right? And it doesn't mean they deserve to be made fun of. Do you...understand...what I'm saying?"

"Sure Mom."
"Sure Mrs. BA"
"Yeah, we understand."

My heart sunk. I had been given a golden opportunity to promote tolerance and acceptance, and I had botched it horribly. My kids were doomed to a life of homophobia because of their mother's ineptitude with analogies. I tried to think of some way to salvage the situation, but I was at a loss. I turned to go back in the house, hoping against hope that I had somehow gotten through to them, despite my bumbling.

As I stood in the kitchen preparing dinner, downhearted about my dismal failure as a sex therapist to 11 year old boys, snatches of conversation drifted in through the open windows.

"Dude, I'm sorry. You're not sick. You're cool."
"Yeah, me too. It's alright you don't like girls. More for us then, heh."
"I wasn't really gonna hurl."
"As long as you don't get any ideas, we're cool."
"As if buttmunch."

It was all very good humored in a testosterone infused kind of way. I imagined these procolamations were punctuated by hyper masculine behavior such as shoulder punching and nuggie giving.

So they had listened, and it seems they got it. And for a while at least, the kid could relaxe and be just one of the guys. I hoped it would be a long time before he had to face real intolerance and real hatred. I felt sad when I thought of the struggle ahead of him and I wondered if it would break his sweet and gentle spirit. And guiltily, I felt incredibly thankful that at least on of my sons had proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to be heterosexual. Because that day, being different was okay, but at 11 all they really want to do is be the same as everybody else. I hoped there would be many more okay days for my young friend, and maybe, in an age of increasing awareness, understanding and acceptance, that hope is not entirely in vain.

Have a happy life Brokeback Kid. I hope that in some miniscule way, I helped to make it so.

15 Comments:

  • At 11:10 PM, Anonymous Kristen said…

    Impressive. You are right. Way harder than wiping a tiny ass. You win :)

     
  • At 8:16 AM, Blogger Michelle said…

    Wow, great post. And good for you, sticking up for that boy!

     
  • At 10:11 AM, Anonymous reluctant housewife said…

    As I was reading your post I thought the dog/cat analogy was a great one. You're too hard on yourself. It obviously worked.

    My heart goes out for that kid. My nephew is one of those boys that wears his heart on his sleeve (I don't know if it's rainbow colored yet) and it breaks my heart. I wish more kids had mothers that cared as much about instilling kindness in their children as much as they cared about athletic ability.

     
  • At 11:52 AM, Blogger nursevl said…

    I think you did a great job. I cringe at the thought of what I would say to my boys (ages 11,7,3!) if this came up. My son told me he knew what "gay" meant, and I told him he was right and I said nothing more.
    I understand the sigh of relief when you know your son is heterosexual too. That little guy has a hard road ahead...but maybe not so bad now that his friends have accepted him. Way to go.

     
  • At 12:12 PM, Blogger Wendy Boucher said…

    Excellent post! I'm new here but your going to get a lot of new readers this week I imagine.

    (virtual handshake or air kiss, air kiss, whichever you prefer)

    Glad to make your acquaintance.

     
  • At 2:33 PM, Blogger gingajoy said…

    that really was a great post, and all the more so because it was so honestly recounted. not sure what i would do in that situation (botch it, no doubt). right now my son is 3, and the daily little report card with "lots of spitting at others today" in the corner is enough to send me reeling.

    anyway, i am so glad the boy is not alienated. and amazing writing.

     
  • At 3:26 PM, Anonymous neva said…

    i think you handled a tricky situation quite handily! this is the sort of information left out of most parenting handbooks, right? and yet, "acceptance" is one of the most important lessons a kid can learn today.

    one of my goals, while raising my two sons, was to make sure they grew up not just "color blind", but accepting of folks despite differences, real or perceived. basically, i wanted them to see a person "beyond" the surface. and i'm happy to report that's happened. my sons are both incapable of thinking of anyone in terms of a stereotype, which makes me feel very proud.

    now, if i can just help 'em out the door... and watch as each one makes his happy independent journey through life i will consider myself a successful parent. one son is 25, the other just turned 22. and they both live at home. so, as you can see, success continues to elude me... but, hey! at least i can accept it!

     
  • At 9:18 PM, Blogger Mrs. Chicky said…

    That's a tough topic. You may have thought you botched it but it sounds like you got your point across. I'm hoping, by surrounding my daughter with all our gay/lesbian friends, this will be a non-issue when she gets to be "that age".

    I liked the dog and cat analogy... but how do you explain someone who loves dogs and cats?

     
  • At 1:14 PM, Anonymous James Frey said…

    You should be careful, "The Smoking Gun" has a way of proving when we exaggerate our "biographies"....

     
  • At 10:25 PM, Anonymous Jessie said…

    I wouldn't count on anyone proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that they were anything.

    My friend was a homophobe all through elementary school and high school. Turns out all his gay hate and fear talk and were a defense mechanism because although his parents were giving him one message with their words - that homosexuality was okay - they were giving a comletely different message with the subtle, unspoken "Thank goodness he's not gay."

     
  • At 11:44 PM, Blogger Blog Antagonist said…

    Really? One of my very closest friends is a gay man and he always told me that he knew from a very, very young age that he liked boys instead of girls.

    Children are sexual beings, though we like to pretend that they are not and I think its a naive (though of course, more comfortable) to think that their sexual preferences don't make themselves known long before we are ready to acknowledge their sexuality.

    It's pretty clear to me that my oldest child likes girls...A LOT. The verdict is still out on my seven year old. And if she should turn out to be gay, yes, my heart will be broken. Not because he will be having sex with men, but because I know how rotten people can be to people who challenge their idea of what is "right".

     
  • At 2:15 AM, Anonymous Jessie said…

    Did you mean to call your possibly gay, possibly not gay son a "she"? ;-)

    Yes, I am aware that children being sexual beings. I'm not sure about it being any more or less uncomfortable - I don't stammer over any of the facts.

    And yes, some of my gay friends knew from the get-go what their preferences were; on the other hand, some struggled with or masked their sexual identity due to mixed-messages from parents, friends, school, media, etc. My lesbian friend even dated boys and got pregnant at 16 years old.

    It's just that the "heart being broken" part - no matter the good intention, the reality of the sentiment - can come through and weigh as heavily on a child and force decisions and behaviors in an attempt to protect the parent.

    I know that parents worry, want what is best for their children, want to protect them - but there are all sorts of choices and conditions upon which children will be challenged. This is a fact. However, I think that most of my gay friends - or, any of my friends who have made decions, met with situations which have caused their parents heartbreak - would agree that dealing with society's opinions is difficult enough without trying to mitigate or field the grief, pity and even disappointment of their family, again, no matter the good intent. The heartbreak, they say, becomes a part of the overall "problem" - as well as a reflection and expression of the "problem" - in being gay or disabled or overweight or a girl or unathletic or....

    I just think that as parents it doesn't have to be our own uncontrollable emotional "fact" as much as we think it does; I think that there is always the potential to work a through much of that heartbreak and fear sooner rather than later. Which perhaps is not what you're saying - I just zeroed-in on the tentative fear throughout this post in particular, and it just reminded me that I hear so many parents talk about this sort of fear of a child being gay for exactly the reason you state, yet rarely hear the follow-through of "minor point considering the unconditional and fearless support she or he will get from me." Maybe it's just a given; however, it begs the question to what extent the children are getting that message, whether spoken or unspoken. I just see with the children I work with that more often than not, they are very acutely aware of what makes their parents unhappy, and describe what makes their parents proud in terms of the negative, parental pride and support being depdendant upon the behaviors make mom and dad least unhappy.

     
  • At 2:14 PM, Blogger Blog Antagonist said…

    Very thoughtful analysis. Thanks.

     
  • At 10:13 PM, Blogger MrsFortune said…

    What a sweet, sweet post, I so enjoyed reading it! I deal with this every day as a junior high teacher and trust me, you just made that kids life a HELL of a lot easier if even one of those kids took what you said seriously.

     
  • At 11:29 PM, Blogger Blog Antagonist said…

    Thank you! And thank you for being willing to teach Junior High. I think it must be immensely challenging, but also immensely rewarding.

     

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