One night as I as I was making dinner, my 6-year-old daughter, Ms. Prissy was coloring at her table in the kitchen nook, which has subsequently been converted to the kids’ art area. As I was mincing garlic, I heard her say, “Man, this is gay.’” and then she crossed out the image on her drawing.
“What did you say?” I asked, my head whipping around like the little girl in the Exorcist.
Without missing a beat, lifting her eyes, or breaking her stride with the crayon, she responded, “This is gray.” I turned back around to finish chopping my vegetables, but my little girl’s tone echoed in my mind. It was too emphatic.
“Do you know what gay is?” I looked right at her, but her eyes held firm on her paper. A smile spread across her face and she replied “Happy, right?”
I was completely blown away on many levels. The clean, seamless transition from gay to gray. The slight sarcasm. It was clear I’d been underestimating my baby—a lot. I guess I should have known she’d know what gay was in this day and age. Times are changing. Same-sex couples on TV or in movies are no longer an anomaly. So I played along, “ Yes, Ms. Prissy, gay does mean happy, but it is also another word for homosexual.”
She quickly interrupted. “Yeah, Mom. I know. I won’t say it again,” she said, slightly annoyed.
Wow. Shut down by my daughter.
But I felt like I should say more. You know, as a responsible parent and all.
“So, you know gay or homosexual is when two men or two women have feelings for each other. Like how mommy and daddy feel for one another. But did you know that many people really don’t like it? There are even laws that say that two men and two women can’t marry each other in most parts of the country. And some people say, “that’s gay!” instead of saying they don’t like something or they think it is bad. But I think all people have the right to love one another. We are all the same in the inside. We all just want to be loved and be accepted for who we are.”
I could see Ms. Prissy’s eyes glaze over as I finished up my soliloquy. She was respectfully looking at my face while I spoke, but mostly I suspected she was thinking of what doll she was going to play with after my lips stopped moving. My speech was as clear as one of Charlie Brown’s teacher’s rants.
“OOOOOKKKKKKKAYYYYY. Thanks, Mom. I gotta go to my room and do something,” she said.
Shut down again. She may not have been listening to me, but I know that smart little girl got the message.
“Out of the mouths of babes…” It’s so amazing how much we can learn from our children and how much we can see the world through their eyes. This example clearly demonstrates how “gay” has been given such a negative connotation, that even a 6 year old understands it as being something bad or a mistake. You handled it very well (as usual) and fair. You’ll be surprised that although Skye was ready for the conversation to end, the things you said stuck. It is your influence that will supersede any erratic ideas that society will throw at her. Job well done!
She is too smart and intelligent and must I say, very perceptive! The funny thing is that she knows the difference, but of course Mommy had to give an explanation. Go ahead Mommy, keep the guidance going! But we all know, these kids are smart as a whip! 😉
As always… love it. When I saw the title, I knew where you were headed. I had the same situation with my little ones. It’s amazing they know how to “change” what they say to be convenient for them. I am so glad that you are educating them at such a young age and giving them “awareness” to issues we never had to face. I love these!!! Keep them coming. Um Phi for life 🙂
When you really know the SAME DIFFERENCE from within, then even a grey day can turn gay in the brightest sense of the word.
What a wise parent you are.
I loved the story and not too long ago had the same experience in the car, on the way home… thanks for sharing…
Mi querida Calida,
This was precious. Thanks for sharing. I am so very proud of the person, mother, artist and social commentator that you have become. Bring the kids to Portobelo!
Hi Calida! What a cute story & you remind me of my mother & how she would have handled the comment!
thanks for the commentary no doubt. Hilarious but insightful most importantly. As a parent I to am constantly reminded about how I have to alway be evaluating for the positive the things I say out of my mouth and the things i do with my action. My Princess is well worth the no time off job:) I hope the Rawles are doing well no doubt. One Airrion “Heru”.
Calida! What a great post. Thanks for sharing. The future is still unclear for me whether or not kids are coming in to play, but if they do, I look forward to bombarding their senses with all of my mixed race, transgendered, alt-lifestyle friends. The greatest thing a person can teach their child is tolerance.
Although, I half want to take that back because I think the word “tolerance” implies something we are expected to take exception to and not something that we should all be learning from and embracing… but you know what I mean…
It is amazing how our kids grow right in front of us. We are witnesses of their improvement every day and still there are unbelievable things going through their minds and lives. We, mothers, are always paying attention and still they are beyond our understanding and imagination. Calida, you are doing a great job. I feel proud of being considered your friend and get the chance to share this scary but still funny moments.
Funny!I wish you had this on video! Yes,the children understand their world. Each generation is put on the planet to replace the next. The funny thing is that children are constanly reminding us of this. If we have the ability to step back and observe, we can see the future of the world. Kinda like how our generation loved video games. Now, we live in a world run by technology. Our parents thought they were games, but those games developed into something that changed the world.