Friday evening after my social media tantrum, N (9) and B (7) and I played the board game Life. Tony was out for an evening of scotch, and so it was just me and the girls at home. They chose to play together as a team against me, picking out the blue car for themselves and the green car for me. They surprised me by choosing a blue plastic peg person to drive their blue car – they had chosen to be a boy in the game. I put a pink peg behind the wheel of my car, and we were set to start the game of Life.
When it was time to get married in the game, they chose to marry another boy, and soon after that they picked up a boy baby to add to their little family. The only part of this that surprised me was that they chose to let the baby drive the car so that the two dads could sit together in the back seat.
We have been playing Life as a family for a few years now, and from the very first time they landed on the “Get Married” space, we have always asked them if they wanted to marry a boy or a girl in the game. Around the dinner table we have always let them know that when they grow up they can choose to marry a boy or a girl, or to not get married at all. When they played house with their friends, no one ever had to be the Dad who went off to work. There were usually two Moms in the game.
My youngest and her BFF have talked about getting married to each other one day. I think the wedding may be on hold at the moment (seven-year-olds can be fickle), but at one time they had even decided which of the two of them would bear the children (as a hint, my youngest is not so tough with pain – we may need to emphasize the beauty of childbirth a little more with her).
We have friends and neighbours who have same-sex partners and we are happy that our daughters have grown up seeing this as completely normal, and not alternative in any way.
I guess all of this helps to explain how totally and completely shocked I was about the tragic suicide of James Hubley, and how his blog described how difficult it was to be a gay teen. I had naively thought that this had become almost a non-issue today. I had forgotten how much high school can suck, and how mean kids can be to other kids who are different.
I do know that things must be an awful lot better for gay high school students than they were when I was in school in the 80s. At the time, I knew of no students who were openly gay, and I can’t imagine that anyone would have come out in my very preppie suburban school.
So while there have most certainly been improvements over the last twenty years, it is obvious that high school is still not a safe place for anyone who is different in any way. I am hopeful though, and I hope not naively so, that little things like having two blue pegs or two pink pegs in a little plastic car will help my daughters and other children their age to be completely accepting by the time they get to high school.
Rest in Peace Jamie. It really would have gotten better.