№19 How Do I Teach My Children?
There are some things I’ve had a hard time explaining to my kids. Not the obvious things, like how babies are made. That was easy.
When my daughter, Tashi, asked me at nine, I said, “I went to a sperm bank and bought sperm. Then I went to a nurse who put the sperm inside my vagina to meet my egg. That’s how you were made.”
At the time I thought I should explain it to Sebastian, who was four. I said the same thing, except, “The nurse put the sperm inside Mami Vicky.”
A harder thing to explain was why Sebastian had to stay close to me at the airport. When he was around five, Sebastian bolted away from the luggage carousel. I ran him down through the crowd and grabbed the back of his shirt. I knelt down and out of breath, I said, “You have to stay close to me.”
He said, “Why?”
“Someone might snatch you.”
“Why would someone snatch me?”
“Sometimes people aren’t nice.” I said.
“Then I would have new mommies?”
“I hope not,” I said. “They would call us and ask for money to get you back.”
“You would pay, right?”
Tashi was about six when, from the backseat, she overheard Vicky and me talking about homophobia. I said to Vicky, “I don’t think anyone cares who’s gay.”
Tashi said, “We’re gay, right?”
I said, “Mami Vicky and I are gay, because we love women. But that doesn’t mean you’re gay.”
She said, “Why would anyone care about that?”
When Tashi was three, I got a Brazilian bikini wax. It was my first one and it happened by accident. I went to a new wax lady for a leg and bikini-line wax. The wax lady was Vietnamese and we had a language barrier. I had my underwear on, which is what I usually did. She said, “Take off.”
I said, “All the way?” I meant my underwear.
That night, Tashi was sitting on my bed when I got up to put on my pajamas. I changed with my back to her. She must have sensed I was hiding something because she scooted out of bed so fast and was suddenly right in front of my crotch. She said, “Mommy, why does your ‘gina look like mine?”
Yesterday, Sebastian, who’s now nine, sat down in the chair in my office and said, “Girls are totally sexist against boys.”
Like that old cliché, my whole life flashed in front of my eyes, except this time, his whole life flashed in front of my eyes. What have I taught him? How did he get this so wrong?
I said, “Why do you think that?”
“Because Tashi told me boys are stupid.”
I said, “Is she wrong?”
He said, “Yes.” He named four boys in his class who always get 100s on their tests. He named girls too, who also get 100s, but sometimes get 70s and 80s.
“No, no,” I said. I tried to explain what Tashi meant. “Boys are smart, they just do stupid things sometimes.”
And then I tried to explain that there is a whole system of sexism that puts girls down.
He said, “Why would anyone want to put girls down?”
And like with all those other questions: How much would you pay to get me back? Why does anyone care that we’re gay? Why does your ‘gina look like mine, I don’t have an answer.
This is №19 of my #weeklyessaychallenge. Join the challenge!