Four is an awesome age. It's full of questions and answers and trying new things and more ability on the playground. She can run a little faster, climb a little higher and stay up a little later. Four has also been the age of big conversations around here. So, when she recently heard someone shouting angry Bible verses into a megaphone at Boston's gay pride parade, we needed to have a talk.
Even though our family is so much just a regular family with a regular schedule and regular problems and this skirt doesn't twirl well enough and can you fold the laundry and I don't want to wear socks and please let me watch another episode of Thomas, sometimes, our family isn't the same.
Our family is talked about in churches. Our family has to cross the street when passing the guy on the corner shouting homophobic slurs in his drunken state. Our family has to adopt our own kid to make sure no one can take her away from her Mama. Our family shouldn't read the comments. Our family has to teach our 4-year-old that sometimes, people will think we are bad. That sometimes, people will tell us we are bad. And that no matter what they say, my sweet daughter, they are wrong. We are not bad. But yes, those words hurt. A lot.
How do you tell a 4-year-old that people think our family is wrong? How do you teach a child to find a teacher or a police officer or another parent to help her if someone says something to her about her family? How do I tell her that I had to give up on Christianity before she was born because I couldn't find a church that would accept us?
We are so much the same, but, every once in a while, we're not the same at all. Because while the hate is not welcome in my house, it sometimes sneaks in under the door. It's just around the corner. And yes, it's getting so much better, but it's not gone. The fight's not over. Not yet, anyway.
So, we talk about it. A lot. We remind her that it's OK to talk about the hurtful words hurting. We teach her to celebrate the differences. We teach her about different families. We teach her what words mean so she knows when they're being used to hurt. We tell her how much we love her. She knows how badly we wanted her. We bring all of this with the assurance that there are lots of people who love us dearly, support us to the end and will fight with us to change the world. It's OK to be different, but sometimes it hurts.