Keep it simple folks. Don’t try to be clever. It never ends well for us parental types. Ok, maybe it just never ends well for me.
I’m driving my son to school when I start to wonder, out loud, whether the kids at school these days have any opinions about being gay.
I remember the last time we’d talked about this subject. He was five and we’d just attended our friends’ wedding.
Me: Did you happen to notice that this was a wedding between two boys?
E: Uh, yeah? What’s the big deal?
That was then. But now we’re on the precipice of the tween years, and everything seems different. Kids talk about sex at school. Do they talk about being gay? Has anything changed?
E: Yep. Lots of kids think it’s bad.
Me: Why? It’s not bad.
E: I don’t know.
Me: But that doesn’t make any sense. There are kids at your school who have gay parents. You know people who are gay. They’re not bad. You don’t think it’s bad. I’ve always told you that it’s not bad!
E: Actually, I don’t really know one way or the other.
I could tell from the tone in his voice that this had just turned into one of those You can’t tell me what to do! kinds of things. If I want to join Sarah Palin’s prayer circle, you can’t stop me! Great, I’m going to be the first parent whose kid rebels by going ANTI-GAY CRUSADER.
What should I say? Where’s Dan Savage when you need him? No time for that. I’m going to handle this myself:
Me: You know what it’s like? It’s kind of like eating raw carrots. You don’t like carrots, right? But what if someone told you that you had to eat raw carrots.
E: I wouldn’t eat them.
Me: Okay, right, but what if you had to? What if people said that you had to eat raw carrots?
E: I would tell them that raw carrots are disgusting.
Me: Yeah, but what if they said that you’re the disgusting one. That you had to eat them or else! Then what?
E: Well…then…I would try to eat them with a little Greek yogurt and vinegar because they’re actually not that bad.
Oh shit. How could I forget? The other night I made him eat raw carrots with Greek yogurt.
Me: You know, I think I should have used a different example.
What have we learned here? Greek yogurt might make everything taste better – even unappealing genitalia. I can see it now — This might inspire a gay conversion therapy reboot.
Better lesson: No more food analogies. Keep it simple.
Featured image: Flickr user Hey Paul Studios