Monday, January 25, 2010

Some Unintended Eavesdropping, and a Necessary Social Lesson

Even in Pennsylvania, it’s possible to find tolerance.

I was at a café this weekend, where I was finishing John Fowles’s novel The French Lieutenant’s Woman. Sitting at a table near mine were a young woman with a son (about four- or five-years-old, if I had to guess) and, sitting across from them, one of the mother’s friends.

The mother talked about her son recently playing with stuffed animals. And these stuffed animals--in pairs, in threes--were getting married; cats married dogs married dolls, and they were all different genders, as well.

And the mother wasn’t complaining, nor did her friend crinkle up her nose or stomp away in disgust.

They praised the boy. And rightfully so.

Sure, there are some things a five-year-old boy wouldn’t understand, and so let’s overlook the issues of polygamy and interspecies dating (ostensibly responsible for that dreadful Nickolodeon show Catdog). The mother explained the boy’s reasoning for why the stuffed animals were all getting married: “Well, they’re best friends, and that’s what best friends do.”

The boy then parroted, in his bright and squawking voice, “That’s what best friends do!”

I’m not saying that all best friends should frolic down the aisle and get hitched right this very moment. I am saying, however, that this mother talking about her son’s game shows that our society is, in some way, advancing and becoming more tolerant. What was fantastic about this little conversation is the reassurance that there are some parents out there who are encouraging their children to be open-minded. There, at least, was a mother who was, by letting her child play minister to dozens of stuffed animal marriages, telling her son that there’s nothing different or wrong about the love between a woman and a man, between two women, or between two men.

Every woman and man--and apparently every teddy bear and Pound Puppy--has the right to love whomever they want to love.


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