The Game of Life

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.

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About Finola

I am an Ottawa area Mom, writer-want-to-be and coffee legend in the making.
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14 Responses to The Game of Life

  1. Capital Mom says:

    I love that the girl thinks she can marry whoever she wants. And she can! (Boy or girl all I care about is that my kids are with kind people)

  2. Chantal says:

    Such a sad story. My neighbours daughter was one of his best friends and she is devastated. I like the way you are handling things with your daughter. I think I need to expose my kids to that more frequently as well.

  3. Eileen says:

    That was a lovely, though sad post, Finola. My heart breaks to think about the pain that 15-year-old Jamie endured in his short life.

    I have run out of patience with teachers and the School Board in their apparent inability to stop bullying in schools. They know who the bullies are, and it’s time to show zero tolerance towards them. Involve the parents of the bullies, suspend them immediately, and lengthen the term of suspension with each subsequent offence. If they don’t stop, expel them.

    Bullying has to stop.

    • Finola says:

      You are absolutely right about the schools needing to stop bullying, and I just don’t understand how it continues despite all of the awareness. I’m with you on the zero tolerance for bullies.

  4. Sasha says:

    I know what you mean – I think in some ways high school never changes, and I suspect it never will. I hope that gender comes off the list of ‘bully targets’, but there will always be something. I think (and hope) that each generation is a little more open-minded than their parents, on any number of issues. So maybe the world will become a better place? I don’t know. I hope so.

  5. Pauline says:

    “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.”

    Your daughters are lucky to have such intelligent and open minded parents, because there is still far too much ignorance and fear out there. If more people with children were as mature and accepting, there would be a lot less bullying and as a consequence fewer suicides of GLBT children and adults.

  6. Finola says:

    Thanks Pauline, and I really liked your post on this matter too.

  7. earlgracetea says:

    I feel so fortunate to be teaching at a very gay friendly high school. Walking the halls, you can see boys holding hands with boys, girls holding hands with girls and boys and girls holding hands.
    We have the rainbow sticker (gay acceptance) on every door.
    Sure, it’s not always perfect, and there are occasional cases of harassment, but it is interesting to see that when that happens, most of the school population are tolerant, and they do not tolerate the harassment and it is dealt with promptly.
    I look at many of my students and realize that many of them would not be happy in a normal school- they would not fit in perhaps because of the fact they are different- be it in their sexuality, appearance, interests or love of the arts, but at Canterbury they are celebrated and assume leadership roles.
    I feel honoured to be one of the teachers who help such students realize their potential. I guess what I am saying is that not all high schools are bad, and it is amazing what happens when you put a group of students together who genuinely care about their passion.
    By the way, you can never know the full story behind what is going on at a school. Mostly, teenagers are accepting and tolerant. It is the minority that can cause such problems. Whenever I hear something about someone bullying/harassing someone else, my immediate questions are: 1) what is going on at home with the bully 2) are their parents aware of what is going on and 3) what steps are the parents taking in conjunction with the school to rectify the situation. 4) what steps are the parents and school taking so that the victim can feel safe again. Because the education of any person is about teamwork- parents, schools and the bully together.

  8. Sid says:

    Good post. Well said.

    I felt the same way as you did when I heard his story: I naively thought things were better for kids these days. I thought it was basically a non-issue. I forgot how much pressure there is in high school to blend in with the crowd. I also forgot how desperately most teenagers (heck, people in general) want a boyfriend/girlfriend in order to feel validated about their worth as a human being. And how lonely it can be when you think that no one understands you.

    But I think it’s about more than zero-tolerance policies. Bullies don’t bully when they have no support from their peers. I wish every kid could go to a school with rainbow stickers on all the doors. Nothing would stop a would-be bully faster than an environment of complete tolerance for difference.

  9. allison says:

    If all kids had parents like you, we’d all be laughing.

  10. I think my post was trying to say the same thing that yours did in such an eloquent way. My only further comment is that I’m not so sure that a school does know who the bullies are …. I’m thinking that we parents need to take this on if there’s going to be any real change. (I seem to recall that when I was in school, the real bullies were often very charming to adults.)

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