I was driving with Sammi one day last summer.
Sammi (out of the blue): "Daddy, what's 'gay'?"
Me (taken aback): "Uh... What???"
Sammi: "What does 'gay' mean?"
Me: "Why do you ask sweetie?"
Sammi: "Sometimes I hear kids say it like - 'You're so gay', or 'That's so gay'. I just wanted to know what it means."
Me (unsure of what exactly to say): "Well... When they say it like that, it's not very nice."
Sammi: "Why? What does it mean?"
I hadn't planned on having a conversation this deep with my seven year old daughter in the car that day, but I've also never been shy about talking to my kids about anything. Over the years, some of the best one-on-one conversations I've had with my kids happened in our car. So I dove in.
Me: "So you know how a lot of men are attracted to and fall in love with women, and a lot of women are attracted to and fall in love with men?"
Me: "Well gay people are attracted to and fall in love with members of the same sex as them."
Sammi: "So the boys fall in love with boys and the girls fall in love with girls?"
Sammi: "So gay people just fall in love differently than you and me - right?"
Me: "That's it."
Sammi: "So what’s the big deal? Why do some people call others gay like it's a bad word?"
Me: "Some people really don't like others who are different from them, so they say or do mean things to them."
Sammi (getting mad): "So they are mean to them just because they love differently?!?"
Sammi: "That's stupid! Everybody is different. There are all kinds of different people in the world."
Me: "You're right."
Sammi (cutting me off): "Some are short and some are tall..."
Me: "I know."
Sammi (still going): "Some have different religions. Some need wheelchairs…"
Sammi (not to be silenced): "Some people are different colors, some are skinny and some are fat..."
Me: "Okay. I get it Honey."
Sammi: "If people were all exactly the same, then the world would be boring! We'd all be like robots or something."
Me: "That's why we need to stand up to people that we see making fun of or hurting others because of their differences."
Sammi sat there in silence for a few minutes. I could see her face in the mirror and it was obvious that she was thinking about some pretty big issues. I resisted the urge to keep speaking - I wanted her to connect the dots and think on her own.
Sammi (finally looking back up at me): "You know what Daddy? It makes me mad that people act mean to others - but we shouldn't hate them. You know why?"
Sammi (smiling): "Because then we would be just like them."
I smiled back into the rear-view mirror at my wise little philosopher.
I think that this world would be a much better place if people could just drop all their social/political/religious/cultural baggage and try to see life through the eyes of a child. It makes life a lot less complicated.
|My smart girl...|