“Papa, you look like a girl,” laughed Cookie Monster.
“Why?” replied Hapa Papa. “Is it because I have Sasquatch in an Ergo*?”
I had to interject. “Remember, Cookie Monster, there are no boy clothes or girl clothes. Just clothes. Just like there are no boy things or girl things. Just things.”
“Do you know what the only difference between girls and boys is?” I continue.
“A boy has a penis and a girl has a vagina.” I pause, because technically, that is not always true. “Actually, sometimes, girls are born without penises but their brains feel like they are boys, so they don’t have penises but are still boys.”
“Some boys are born with penises but they are actually girls so they also are girls,” Hapa Papa continued, surprising me.
“How does that happen?” Cookie Monster giggled.
“Some people just change the way they dress for awhile, or they take special medicines to change their bodies,” I replied.
“People just want to be happy,” continued Hapa Papa.
And then I left to go write.
As I was driving, it occurred to me that if I were to post the interaction on Facebook, folks who disagreed with me would likely accuse me of brainwashing my children.
But you know what?
All parenting is brainwashing our children. ALL OF IT.
No matter what you do as a parent, you are brainwashing your children with how you think they should view, participate, and interact with the world.
Whether it is something as mundane as how to load the dishwasher or something more “radical” (but hopefully, just as mundane in the future) as normalizing transgendered people, we brainwash our kids by imprinting our values upon them.
That’s our job as parents.
Whether or not our kids choose to continue with these beliefs in the future, that is up to them as people.
And thus, Hapa Papa and I try to normalize things that we ourselves did not grow up learning. We don’t make a big deal out of it. We just point things out consistently and gently remind our kids every time they state something that is the current norm (eg: dancing is for girls or trains are for boys).
This is how Glow Worm dresses up as Elsa or a mermaid or wears heels and sparkly shoes and necklaces. Cookie Monster went through this phase as well and grew out of it. If Glow Worm never does, that is perfectly fine, too.
Or this is why, when Cookie Monster once asked me if two men could have a baby, I said something to the effect of a baby could have two daddies, but making a baby required a sperm and an egg. (Hey, biological fact is also important.) I’m not really sure what the conversation entailed due to the vagaries of time, but that was the gist.
After all, we offer them unfettered access to YouTube which reflects mainstream views about what is supposed to interest boys or girls. I know it is impossible for us to catch and “correct” them all. And even if we did, they exist in this world and this reality and they are not stupid.
My kids are bound to absorb the unconscious messages they receive from media, family, and friends.
But hopefully, with years of repetition, my children will grow up thinking that people and families come in all shapes and sizes, abilities, colors, talents, loves, and desires. Some families have two fathers. Some have more. Some have only one mother. Some have none. Some have brothers and sisters. Some do not.
It is really that simple.
And mostly, people just want to live, love, and be without explanation and fear. That people want to just be who they are, when and where they are.
Yes, yes. Of course not every body can be who they are, when and where they are, because pedophiles and bad people.
TRANSGENDERED PEOPLE ARE NOT PEDOPHILES.
Neither are gays, lesbians, etc. etc. ad nauseam.
If I were really worried about pedophiles and bad people, I would tell them to avoid middle-aged white men who are religious leaders. (Don’t get mad at me for stating facts. Get mad at the white men doing bad things.)
At any rate, I am hopeful, in the era of 45 (I refuse to call him President because it hurts my brain and I am still unwilling to acknowledge reality), that the more of us who teach our children that all peoples are deserving of the freedom to live and love how they choose, the less likely another 45 will come into being.
Incidentally, that’s also why I wanted more kids. The super conservatives are outbreeding us liberals. (Kidding!! Kidding! I wanted lots of kids because of other reasons – but this doesn’t hurt!)
How are you brainwashing your kids?