Connor is taking part in a play at school. For reasons I am unclear of he is playing the female lead. There are actually females in the drama group, but he is playing the female lead.
Sometimes I find not asking questions is just better.
He asked me for a dress, and I gave him a dress and a jacket that I thought would fit him and possibly try and retain some of his “boy” dignity. He needed shoes. His feet are bigger than mine, but my friend Judith had shoes that could fit him.
They are black heels – probably kitten heels. Connor has been stomping around in the passage trying to get the hang of them.
I smirked earlier when I heard him ask Judith: “Do you have any shoes to go with my dress?”
So that made me think of the awkward conversations I have had with Connor over the years.
I find that driving to and from school is often a good time for conversations to start.
I have always had one principle regarding talking to my children.
Tell the truth – the simple, basic truth – if you stick to the truth, your child will get his or her answer, and generally the truth does not require a fabricated story you need to recall later.
I have kept this principle for many years – and I started it probably a bit earlier than advised, but when Connor was in Grade R.
He was going to be going to a “bigger” school for Grade 1. He was my first child. I had no idea what went on at primary school. Did they keep Grade 1’s separated from Grade 7’s or was it a free for all?
The part that worried me the most — there were several ones but this was the one that really had the hamster in my head going bezerk – was that what if an older child spoke about something sex related to Connor.
I did not want him to be embarrassed because he did not know, and would then be made fun of.
With this in mind I set forth on a brutal journey of making sure that Connor could talk about sex in an almost matter of fact fashion. He was going to know all the “biologically correct” words for parts of the body, and no one was going to embarrass him or make him feel awkward.
Kennith disagreed at the time, but as he was not really vying for the position of Sex Educator, I just ran with it.
I stuck to my guns. I remained candid. I explained everything and anything they asked — and lots of stuff they probably did not need to know. I bought books geared towards children – and Connor used that to look through and to ask questions on.
I wanted to be sure that any information they had about sex was supplied by me. Was correct and factual, and that I felt would stand them in good stead.
Children as children do, amaze their parents. I was often overcome by the conversation we had driving to school and home each day.
Connor asked questions, and he listened to the answer. If he did not understand, then I re-explained it and checked that he was comfortable with the information.
I recall one day we were driving home and I was telling him about a couple we knew who was struggling to conceive, and how desperately they wanted a baby .
Connor turned to me and said: “Have they tried artificial insemination?”
To which I said yes, and some other treatment as well, but it had not worked.
Connor sat there thinking for a moment and said: “Do you think they will try surrogacy?”
The fact I was sitting with a 9 year old boy who knew what AI was and what surrogacy was made me very proud.
A few weeks later we were driving home and there seemed to have been a conversation at school about marriage, and I commented about the fact that a marriage does not just have to happen between a boy and a girl. A girl and a girl could get married, and so could a boy and a boy.
I explained that we do not always choose who we love – and because we are all so different, surely there should be different marriages for us all of us. And those marriages each though different, are not bad different, they are just different.
He agreed and we sat there for a bit.
Often when he asked a question I would ask him “But what do you think is happening here?”
This was before Kennith and I were married, so who was I to sit and make judgments about what makes a “right” family, whilst we were technically “living in sin” and were in the process of “conceiving three bastards?”
So exactly how do I get all religious conservative and judge other families? Right, I can’t …. and frankly it is not my style.
A few days later in the car drives, that had turned into honest question answering times – Connor asked me “how do two men have sex with each other?”
Interesting question – but you know the answer, and well the choices were, start a lie, or keep with my policy and tell the truth. I kept to the truth part.
I can honestly tell you I thought my head was going to blow off. Totes awks! For me at any rate.
At no point did he cringe, or die, and neither did either of us blow up in a spurt of flames. He lived, he understands, and I really hope he goes forward in his life not judging people for things they should not be judged for.
We had the same frank conversation about religion, about things we do in anger and cannot always control, and the issues around creation versus evolution. Once you start an open dialogue with your child, it is incredible how little you have to hide from them.
My entire Kumbayah my Lord, approach got totally blown out of the water when we were standing in line at the bottle store, and there was a man standing behind me who was a little person.
I saw him, and thought “shit, I haven’t explained that to the children” – Georgia on top of her lungs, points to him, and then goes “MOM – WHY IS HE SO SHORT??” and keeps staring at him as if he can’t see her pointing and staring at him.
Right, back to the drawing board on not creating children who are judgmental. I thought after the anal and blow jobs conversation I was home free, it would seem not.