"Honey, That Wasn't a Man!"
We’re out of milk.
I have two options: 1. I can make my daughter suffer through her insatiable thirst for a glass of cold milk or 2. I can put on my armor (makeup and a non-sweat outfit) and go to the grocery store with three kids in tow in 30 degree weather. No thanks. I remember Safeway delivers and hop online to order our groceries that will conveniently be delivered first thing in the morning right to my doorstep.
The doorbell rang bright and early before I even remembered that I had ordered groceries at all. I swing open the door to see a 5 crate tower of groceries. Ah, yes! FOOOOOD! This nice man pops out from around the tower and begins to unload the delivery.
“Where can I place your groceries, ma’am?” a more-feminine-than-I-expected voice asked.
Wait, is that voice coming from a man or a woman? Since I'm not 100% positive either way I select my words carefully to avoid discriminating pronouns.
The very helpful man or woman was just about done unloading as I signed my receipt. I've found in the 5 years of being a mother that kids have an incredible ability to bring attention to the things you don't want to bring attention to. As adults, we pretend not to smell the foul odors coming from the man seated in front of us on the airplane. We rarely point out the spec of pepper in the waiter’s front tooth as he smiles and serves us our food. And most of us have learned, some the hard way, never to make assumptions that the woman with a little thicker mid-section is pregnant. Before I have the chance to say thank you and close the door I hear my innocent little girl say, “Mommy, he’s a nice man!”
I turn to her with a look only an adult would really understand. You know that look. The look of WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU DOING? PLEASE REMOVE THE FOOT IN YOUR MOUTH AND STOP TALKING NOW!
I decide the best reaction is no reaction at all, even though I'm beginning to sweat and turn red. The last thing I want to be is rude, so I quickly hand off my signed receipt and we say goodbye.
My daughter and I had a long talk that day. I tried to explain as simply as I could to a four year old how to be politically correct. But the truth is she didn’t do anything wrong. She was merely trying to give a genuine compliment and it was really me who struggled with knowing how to prepare my daughter for a world with so many different types of people. At the ripe age of 4, she hasn’t come across too many members of the transgender community. I have a few amazing gay and lesbian friends who have interacted with my daughter, but she doesn't know or care about their sexual orientation. They look like everyone else to her. What I realized in trying to prepare my daughter is that she was already doing the right thing. She was being kind. Sure, she may have used the wrong pronoun, but that really wasn't the important part of what she said. She said, "Mommy he's a NICE man!" She could care less what was on the outside, she was looking at what was on the inside. She didn’t see right or wrong. She saw kindness.
As the world has shifted its focus away from Kim Kardashian’s first world problems to the deeper secrets that the former Bruce Jenner was hiding her whole life, I have been reminded of our encounter with the Safeway delivery person and it's made me contemplate how I will raise my children with Christian values in a culture still struggling to accept sexual differences. As a family, I still believe we can love God while accepting people for who they are without making our own judgements. Many people may still argue and say "But the Bible says this..." I know what the Bible says. The Bible says that I am a child of God and I am a sinner (just like everyone else). The Bible says to love God and love people. That’s pretty clear.
I know my role, and it's not to condone or condemn how others live. I’m here to treat my neighbor as I want to be treated. I’m here to love. I’m here to raise my children with love. They will grow up and form their own opinions, their own relationships, and will have their own spiritual journey with God. As far as what I would do or say if one day one of them came out to me? Well, I haven’t put much thought into it. Frankly, it doesn’t matter. My heart would still beat for them as it does on this day. My job is to facilitate a healthy lifestyle for them and show them God’s grace in my life by the way I love them every single day and the way I show grace to others. As long as I keep that as my priority, I don’t need to worry about the details.
When it came down to searching for the right way to teach my children love and acceptance, I don’t think looking within myself is necessarily the best route. I think we can not find better acceptance than to look within the heart of a child. Children see the heart first. They don’t see the differences. It is learning how to continue to see the world through the eyes of a child as you grow up that is the difficult challenge. My prayer is that my family keep its focus on loving God and loving people - no matter their differences. We all look a little different on the outside, my hope is that in the midst of that we don’t forget we’re all human on the inside.