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.