I had great parents, but there wasn't a lot of real nitty gritty discussion going on between parents and kids in those days. I wouldn't have dreamed of asking my parents about sex, and they wouldn't have dreamed of telling me. Same goes for drugs, alchohol, birth control, religion, politics...that's just not the way parents related to their children in those days.
So I talk to my kids. A lot. Truth be told, I probably talk too much.
Boys are different from girls when it comes to communication. They don't feel the need to verbally disect every thought, emotion or impulse. They don't examine things too closely. If they do, they keep the findings to themselves. I have had to learn to wait for those little gifts of information that they dispense far too slowly for my taste. When I try to rush them into divulging the details that I prize, they simply clam up, batten down, and beat a hasty retreat.
So when I talk, I wonder if at some point, my voice doesn't just become the wah-wah-wah-wah-wah of the Charlie Brown adults.
I know they hear. But I wonder if they really listen.
We don't often get to see the fruits of our parenting labors until the hard part is over with. We don't often get to know if we did it right until it's too late to do it differently. So on those rare occasions that we do get to know....its very sweet indeed.
I savor those moments. Then, after I have wrung every drop of gratification from them, I file them away in one of the many drawers in my mental filing cabinet; the one labelled "good Mommy moments". I pull them out when I need them, to remind me that I do get it right sometimes.
I got one of those moments the other day, courtesy of my teenager.
He and I sat facing one another at a local pizza place where Diminutive One's team had gone to celebrate a three game winning streak. Some of the team parents at an adjacent table began discussing a situation that has the entire Metro area up in arms. A transgendered teenager at one of the local high schools has petitioned the school board to be able to attend school in girl's clothing and make-up.
You can imagine how well that has gone over here in the Bible Belt.
The comments I have heard regarding this young man have ranged from mildly distasteful to downright hateful. I have not encountered one person who supports his right to dress as he pleases.
One of the parents turned to ask me what high school Pubescent One attends. I told her (it's not his school, but one that many of his friends attend) and in reply she said, "You must be really glad he doesn't go to that school!"
I am, glad. DAMN glad. But not because of Jonathan Escobar. I'm glad because I have no respect for a Principal who tells a student that he must man up or withrdaw and I do not want such a person to be an authority figure to my sons.
Through all of this discussion, Pubescent One listened quietly with a look of disgust on his face.
When the woman turned back to her table mates, Pubescent One said, "Geez what's the big deal??"
"I don't know, but it is a big deal to some people. They want him expelled...or worse."
"WHY???" he asked, clearly incredulous. "Oh, oh, wait, because he's DIFFERENT, right?" his voice was dripping with scorn. He rolled his eyes, shook his head and said under his breath...."God...he's not hurting anyone."
I was so proud of him at that moment.
I've talked to my kids time and again about tolerance, acceptance, embracing diversity and reveling in our differences rather than fearing them. But here in the South, beliefs are handed down like family heirlooms. They are accepted and perpetuated, even if they are antiquated and offensive within the scope of modern thinking. Those who are different or unusual in any way are scorned, if not persecuted outright. There is no room for them in the comfortable little construct of Southern acceptability.
Thus, a panty wearing faggot at the high school is just the kind of thing that would incite an uproar of unparalleled magnitude. And has.
But my son has not fallen prey to the prejudices around him. He sees them for what they are...useless artifacts from an intolerant era. He is learning the way of things, my man child. And he is learning to be his own person, think for himself...lead instead of follow. And even more importantly, he is learning to judge people for who....not what they are.
I'm sure before his teenage years are over, there will be plenty of things I do all wrong.
So I'm thankful I got to know that I did this one thing right.