I tend to group things in threes. Maybe everybody does. I like to post books in threes. Comedy definitely works best in threes (normal thing, normal thing, funny thing). I have three kids, if you include my husband (bah-da-bum, back to the comedy of threes).
So perhaps it shouldn’t surprise me that I’ve had three lesbian... let’s say issues come up within three days. One is kids’ book related, two are not. This post will be pretty... let’s say tolerant, so if that bothers you, you may wish to come back on another day. I’ll have a little music so you won’t inadvertently see something that may offend you.
“Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high...”
Okay, let’s get this party started. During the long, long spring break (did I mention that it was looong), my 10-year-old had a friend over. Cool mom that I am, I joined them for lunch and we chatted about stuff. I don’t know how it came up, but the friend said something along the lines of being scared of being lesbo. The exact wording slips my mind, whether it was being afraid of growing up and finding out you were lesbo or something making you lesbo, I wish I could recall. I showed no alarm, ’cause that’s how cool I am, but said calmly that I didn’t think that being lesbo was something we needed to be worried about, because some people are different from others but that isn’t bad. And as she backpedaled a bit, I added how being gay or lesbian is just small part of who a person is and how it doesn’t change how he or she enjoys swimming, or likes horses, or hates cheese. We can be different from others in some ways, the same in others, and it isn’t something to worry about in any case. It was surprising that the topic came up, but I wasn’t particularly uncomfortable because I know how I feel, how I teach my children, and what I would want to (quickly) convey. In fact, I was glad the friend felt like my house was a safe place to try out her feelings.
Fast forward to Sunday’s Washington Post, where I read that an organization of gay and lesbian parents has, well, organized to have these parents wait in line for tickets to the White House Easter Egg Roll taking place today. They thought about wearing T-shirts with a statement, but decided to go more subtle with rainbow leis and bracelets. Their message was not one of protest, but of inclusion. They are here, they are parents, they are not going to be invisible. I thought this was great, down to them offering rainbow-sprinkled donuts to the other parents in line. I couldn’t wait to see how this would be covered in the paper today. And then it rained. I think the egg roll is canceled and the gay and lesbian parents won’t get the chance to say, like all the other parents there, “what the hell is an egg rolling anyway?”
Knowing the rule of threes, I shouldn’t have been surprised to open up a new kids’ book by Judy Goldschmidt and read some lesbian comment. In Raisin Rodriguez and the Big-Time Smooch, Raisin is writing a blog for the purpose of keeping in touch with her two best girl friends after she has moved. On page three (yes, three again) she is talking about how even her preschool stepsister has a boyfriend.
“All I have is no one. Okay, that’s not entirely true. I’ve got you guys. But you’ve got to admit, the three [(!!!)] thousand miles in between you and me makes it inconvenient to start anything serious right now. Plus I’m not ready to go lesbionic just yet.”
I was instantly turned off. The reference wasn’t necessary and was kind of... wrong. Yeah, kids would say it, but the author doesn’t have to write it. As a writer I would want my goal to be to write for kids not like kids. And it was a throwaway line anyway. Why take the chance on sounding intolerant, when you aren’t even staying around to make your point? If the author wants to deal with a kid being worried about being “lesbionic,” then, hey, go for it. If the author just wants to sounds like a kid, there are plenty more opportunities in the book that won’t marginalize your readers on the third page.
It pretty much ruined the book for me, though I’ve kept reading. The first book, The Secret Blog of Raisin Rodriguez, was funny. It had some cringe-worthy moments, but had a real feel for the character. I liked the idea of a kid’s blog as an update on the old diary/journal idea. However, the introduction to this new book where she talks about “interlopers” on her blog annoyed me. Does she not understand that the blog is a pretty public way to discuss your feelings? Perhaps she would rather email her friends instead. The second book also depends a lot on the first book, so I keep feeling like I am missing something even though I read the first book. Kids will probably like it, but I’m over it.
I now return you to the music, already in progress.
“If happy little bluebirds fly, beyond the rainbow, why, oh, why, can’t I?”