Recently, my daughter and I met another little girl and her mom on our street. It was one of the first truly sunny days of spring, and both little girls were zipping along on the same type of scooter, wearing similar helmets. In no time, they were rolling down the sidewalk together, laughing and chasing each other. It turned out that they were neighbors of ours, which was delightful news as they were clearly hitting it off. Noticing my six-month baby bump, the little girl’s mom commented that her wife was also expecting again, and that we were due around the same time. Double score! We exchanged phone numbers, and the girls hugged one another good-bye.
After putting my daughter down for her nap, I sat down to work at my desk and it hit me. I was probably going to have to be prepared to explain why her new friend had two moms instead of a mom and a dad. Surprisingly (at least for our very liberal Brooklyn neighborhood), this was our first encounter with a same-sex couple, and I figured it would probably elicit some very demanding questions from my ever-curious toddler, whose favorite phrase lately is, “But whyyyyyyyy, mama? But why?” Sheesh.
Naturally, I took to the Internet to arm myself with information and find some guidance. I knew that I wouldn’t bring it up or make a big deal out of it since, well, it’s not a big deal (at least not in our house). I was more concerned with how to gently get her to understand, if necessary, that things that are different are just a part of life. It’s been quite obvious when she notices, to quote that Sesame Street song, when “one of these things is not like the other.” A man with an eye patch on the subway a few weeks ago was topic for discussion for our entire ride uptown. A little boy in a wheelchair at the airport on our spring break trip a few months ago prompted an entire discussion about the difference between wheelchairs and strollers. You see what I mean? Sometimes you just need to have an answer, and our new friend’s two moms was not something I wanted to ad lib.
Disappointingly, most Internet discussions on the topic veered into bible territory, which I was just not interested in. And while major parenting publications like Parents had dabbled a bit in the subject, there wasn’t a lot of reference material there, either. After talking about it with my husband, we decided to just buy a few books that featured same-sex couples, add them to our home library and thread them into our reading rotation without pointing out the difference in these families—if questions came up, we’d answer them, of course, but with simple explanations.
A few days later, we ran into our new friends—before our books arrived in the mail. Both girls were on their scooters again and so excited to see one another. The little girl’s pregnant mom was with her this time, and we introduced ourselves. She told me that her daughter had told her all about the new friend she’d made and that it was really great to meet us. I knelt down and told my daughter that this woman was her new friend’s other mama, and she just said “Hi!” Then she asked if she and her buddy could scoot together. No questions, not even an eyelash bat. So much for being concerned about an onslaught of confusion and questions.
I know that her curiosity will perk up at some point, but for now I’m enjoying her sweet acceptance of the world and all its differences. When the time comes though, we’ll have all those books at the ready.