Ever since we talked about the "talking about race" chapter of NurtureShock, I've been thinking about how it's not just about taking about race. It's about communicating values. I've been thinking that just living my values are going to pass them on to my boys, but that chapter really made me see that I need to explicitly talk about them–race, body size and health, relationships, sex, etc.
Last weekend, I got a beautiful chance to talk about what I value with my younger son. He and I took a vacation together, just the two of us, to drive 350 miles to the wedding of my high school friend who was going to marry his partner of 14 years in Massachusetts, one of the few US states that will allow them to get legally married because they both happen to have penises.
I wanted my son to be able to chose what he wore to the wedding, which was going to be casual, with a beach reception, so on the drive up the day before we stopped at a Target and went into the boys' section. He told me that "those things" (collars) tickled his neck, so he didn't want to wear a polo shirt or a Hawaiian shirt. We picked out a plain navy t-shirt, and a pair of madras plaid shorts. They didn't have any sandals he wanted, so he stuck with the flip-flops he had on. He also got a new pair of Spiderman sunglasses. He was excited about picking out his own clothes, and about wearing an outfit he liked.
On the way there we talked about the wedding. "Is it really two mens, Mom?" he asked. "Yes." Why are they getting married?" "Because they love each other. And when two grown-ups love each other, they can get married. Sometimes a man marries a man, and sometimes a woman marries a woman, and sometimes a man and a woman marry each other."
In another conversation he asked if there would be a "statue" of two men on the top of the cake. I said I thought there probably would be. He thought about it, and said that when he got married he wanted to have a statue of two penguins on his wedding cake. I said I thought that was a good idea.
When we got to the wedding he noticed that the two grooms were wearing matching shirts and boutonnieres. He asked why they were hugging and kissing. "Because now they're married. They're both husbands now."
Some of the guests were same-sex couples, and we talked about that, too. "Are those mens married to each other, Mom?" "I don't know. Let's look and see if they're wearing rings. That's usually how you can tell if someone's married." "Yeah, like you and Dad don't wear rings because you're not married." "Exactly."
He didn't cry at the wedding, because he's 5. I did, though. I cried because my friend, who was in my wedding, had been with his new husband for long enough for me to meet and marry and divorce my kids' dad, but was only now making it legal. And I was crying hoping that by the time my sons are old enough to get married, they'll be able to marry any adult they want to in any of the 50 states.
This morning I read this news, that one of the head execs of Target donated $150,000 to the gubernatorial campaign of an anti-gay candidate. And it made me sick to think of all the money I've spent there over the years. All that money, thinking Target was giving back to the community, when their execs are violating the Greatest Commandment.
But I'm glad that the last money I'll ever spend at Target was on the clothes my son wore to the wedding of a couple that gubernatorial candidate thinks don't deserve to be married.
And now, to teach my values, I'm going to explain to my children why we don't shop at Target anymore.