Hello all. Sorry for being absent for so long, I’ve been traveling. Now moving on:
My son was looking over the cover of a local Jewish periodical this morning when he asked me to explain one of the headlines. “Mom,” he said, “what’s an ultra religious lesbian?”
“Well,” I said casually, “you know how some men are attracted to men? Well lesbians are women who are attracted to women and apparently that article is about religious lesbians.”
My son cocked his head to the side. “Are all Gays religious?”
“Some are some aren’t. One thing has nothing to do with another.”
My son looked back down at the headline before asking. “I’m religious but I’m straight...at least I think I am. Am I straight mom?”
“That’s not one of those things you can figure out when you’re 6. When you’re older you’ll know.”
He accepted that and moved on to another subject but the conversation got me thinking about a blog I wrote back in August in which I implied that my son’s affinity for 1970s disco might be a reflection on his sexual orientation. I got a few emails after that one from well meaning readers who wanted to reassure me by letting me know that my son was most likely heterosexual. For the record, I was joking. I don’t actually believe that the musical tastes of a six year old has anything to do with who he’ll be attracted to later in life. Furthermore, I don’t care if he does turn out to be Gay. If he grows up and marries some nice girl who he dearly loves then I’ll be happy as a clam. However if twenty years down the line my son calls to tell me that he and his boyfriend are officially engaged and he wants to be married in a pretty white gown I’ll be happy to find him the perfect Vivian Tam to flatter his figure. I also don’t care if he grows up to be a doctor, a writer, a hairstylist or a mechanic. I just want him to be him. People are always trying to mold their children to become the person they want them to be. To a certain extent that’s appropriate. Obviously I want my son to be a considerate, responsible individual with an aptitude for making and maintaining friendships. I also want him to stand up for himself and to be socially conscious. But I don’t need him to take the Bar exam or attend Harvard, unless of course that’s what he wants to do.
I’m always meeting people who want their kids to be a certain way. I’ve met mothers who have expressed distress because their daughters like the girly things that they have always distained, fathers who express frustration with their son’s lack of athletic ability and I’ve met several people who try to force their children to become passionate about what they perceive to be intellectual pursuits. The latter are often the same people who hire tutors for their kids so they can be reading at third grade level in kindergarten. I mean really, would it be such a big deal if their kid was reading at third grade level in third grade? For that matter would it be the worst thing in the world if their son would rather paint a picture than throw a football?
The Declaration Of Independence states that the pursuit of happiness is one of our unalienable rights. Shouldn’t we be teaching that to our children? I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be teaching our children to read too but I don’t know that it’s something we should be stressing out about when they first enter elementary school. After all over 99% of Americans over the age of 15 are literate. However 7% of Americans are taking antidepressants and it’s said that at least 10% of Americans will go through a major depression at some point in their life. That’s major depression. God only knows how many people are moderately unhappy although I’m sure that number is well over 50%. Based on those statistics it would seem that being happy is harder than reading and I don’t think our kids can learn to be happy by pursuing their parent’s dreams.
So maybe my son will grow up to be a CEO of a Fortune 500 company with a beach house and a super model girlfriend. Or maybe he’ll get a job as a yoga instructor and will spend his weekends flipping through International Male while listening to Donna Summer on his IPod . As long as he ends up being happy with his life then he’ll be ahead of the curve.
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