Tuesday, September 21, 2010

school angst cont'd

The school open-house was a great success.  Boy-o was beside himself in ecstacy in his new surroundings.   First there was the bathroom - which we very nearly didn't make it to! - only to hear "LOOK MAMA!  They're just my size!"  Good toilets.  Check! 

Next we moved onto the music room, which could only be described as mecca for the music loving kid.  There were a plethora of xylophones in different sizes and different materials, a huge floor drum and many, many smaller ones, tin whistles and shakers and bells galore!  Boy-o would have stayed there the whole open-house if we hadn't encouraged him to move on.  Next we found our way to a small reading room, filled with books and books and books, along with a lovely cozy reading tent and many comfy cushions.  And from there, the main classroom, replete with a sand table, water table, painting table, kitchen/dress-up area, cars and a roadway carpet, a great big wooden blocks station and several kid sized sitting tables.  Check, check, check, check and CHECK!

Boy-o vibrated happily through the open-house, moving from toy-to-toy, station-to-station, introducing himself to the other kids and parents in a voice so excited and quick that no one could possibly hope to understand him.  No matter, his joy was infectious and he quickly spread smiles around the room. 

But as Boy-o vibrated with happiness, I vibrated with nervous energy.  Having scanned the room full of kids and their parents, I knew right away ours was the only queer family.  In many ways, this doesn't matter.  The school we have chosen has a progressive diversity policy, our childs' teacher is down with the gays, and willing to take the issue on the classroom if need be.  Many of the parents we met that night were completely non-plussed by L. and I as a family unit and very friendly.  So - what's the problem then?  What's the big deal?  Why, as we headed out to the car with an exhausted baby and a wired and happy Boy-o, was I struck by this huge, overwhelming sadness and guilt? 

I was just struck that night with this sudden and crushing - well - I guess grief is the right word, that I was the source of what will make my son "different" from his classmates.  And before you say it, YES - I know.  Everyone is 'different.'  Every kid deals with something or other/gets teased for something or other/kids are mean/kids are resilient/blah blah blah.  I know this is all true. 

But here's what I also know to be true.  I desparately want to not be the source of why my son gets teased, or razzed, or god forbid, bullied, in school.  I desparately want to keep him in this little bubble where his family can be 'normal' and okay; where people won't tell him he's lacking because he doesn't have a dad; that his family is an abomination; that his parents are child molesters, that he must be a fag because we are gay, or the myriad of other bizarre and baseless things the wacko folks like to say about us queers.  I want him not to have to confront the homophobia and heterosexism that permeates our culture. 

And even if he doesn't get bullied, razzed, or teased - even if people are fantastically nice and aware and sweet to him - it's still hard to be different sometimes.  And the source of the major difference my kiddo is going to have to deal with at school is us.  His parents.  The two people who love him more than anything else in the world.  It stinks.  It smarts.  It terrifies me.

It's knee-jerky, emotional stuff I'm talking about here.  And right now, it's MY baggage, not his.  He may well go through his whole life not giving a rat's ass that he has two mommies, or even, gasp, being glad that he has two mommies.  The guilt I am wading through, the sadness I am wading through, and especially the fear I am wading through as we send our son out into the world of Redneckville without us to shelter him, is *mostly* mine.  I say mostly because I wouldn't have to feel so guilty, so sad, so afraid for my kids if we didn't live in such a crap-assed, homophobic (racist, classist, etc.) world.  If we weren't so complacent about the various kinds of  'isms' that pervade our lives and the lives of others.

The biggots are right about one thing - homophobia isn't fair to our children.   Ignorance isn't fair to anyone, really.  (But of course they miss that last bit of the equation).

Right about now, I'm just really, really, really wishing I could keep my sweet, trusting, loving, open, gentle Boy-o from having to learn about that ignorance so early on in his life...

*and crossing my fingers that maybe, just maybe, he won't*


  1. Well, mama T, I grew up in this hellish province with straight parents. So my experience is no example. BUT the coolest, smartest, nicest girl in my school had (and still has) two dads.
    And also-- I think we should all consider Trish's suggestion that we get our kids into the same school. Really.

  2. Yes - I think so too. That would be really awesome. But then we'd have to all agree on which school ;)

  3. We're fortunate in that this little cluster of rainbow folk has some kids older than ours - so your kids are blazing the trail. And your experiences will guide our decisions in 4-5 years time. I want to hear if Boy-o (or either of the girls starting their school careers this year) are ostracized for their queer parents. I fear our girl being bullied, but equally, I fear her internalizing the criticisms and seeing her parents the way others might see them in our backwatery town. What if she learns to be embarrassed by her mom because she doesn't look/act like all the other moms? OMG, a minefield of heartache.