There is no way to prevent Mookie from encountering people’s strange and hurtful ideas about her parents. It’s all part of the lesson that when the world tells you you need to be different, that’s usually because there’s something wrong with the world, not you–but it is hard to have to begin learning it so young. We try to immunize her with a strong affirmation of who she is, our own refusal to hide or be ashamed, and of course, lots and lots of love. I try not to let her know how my stomach clenches when the issue comes up, such as during this exchange with her yesterday:
Mookie, putting wombat stuffie* under her shirt: We’re a wombat family and I’m going to have a baby. We already have Mustard** and he’s eight, and I’m going to adopt him.
Me: Oh, exciting!
Mookie: You be the daddy.
Me: Can’t we be two mommies? And you be the mama who’s having the baby.
Mookie: But then we’ll be teased.
Me, dropping out of character, but trying to keep it light: Have you had teasing about having two mommies?
Mookie: Yes. People say “that’s weird.”
Me: We can handle that. We know how.
(a few minutes later, post-birth, amid much jubilation from the delighted older brother)
Mookie: I don’t want there to be any teasing in this game. I think you should be a daddy.So we talked some more about who had said “That’s weird.” She said it was not just the kid in her class who did it in the first month of school, but other friends, more recently. I hugged her, asked her to bring these things up as they happen because there’s things we can do, and resolved to talk to her first grade teacher on day one about some proactive education about Different Kinds of Families, since some of them clearly still don’t get it. I added that kids tend to say “That’s weird” about things that are new to them, which is very annoying. And we ended with this reassuring bit of sweetness.
Me: Of course, I am weird. (makes weird noise)
Mookie: You are not!
Me: Yes, I am. And so is Mommy. She goes like this. (makes another weird noise)
Mookie, throwing herself into my lap and her arms around me: No, she’s not. You’re perfect.
Got that, heteronormative world? You’ve heard it from the world’s foremost expert on Amy and Joy, Queer Moms: We’re perfect!
*Yes, we have a wombat stuffie, brought by Australian friends. Thank you, Tabouli and Pilgrim!
**Mustard is a cat stuffie. Maybe the multi-species thing explains the adoption?