Normal is Overrated

There have been times when I find myself involved in a discussion which completely confounds me. Then again I have a tendency to assume that those around me hold the same general beliefs that I do. This particular conversation began with some gentle teasing over politics and the recent elections. One of my coworkers, a very sweet lady, professed to being a strong republican supporter. Just to be clear, I am a strong democrat, always have been, always will be, but I am readily able to separate political from personal. However I jokingly mentioned a conversation Chris and I had long before Luca was born, in which we both concluded it would be easier to handle Luca being gay than republican. I was then somewhat confused to hear my other coworkers go on to explain how "sad" they would be if their children were gay.

I wasn't quite sure how to interpret the "sad" remark. What exactly would there be to be sad about? At least for one of my coworkers, I believe her concern was the difficulties a gay child would face growing up: the teasing, ostracizing etc. Every parent wants their child to have a happy childhood, and the recent spate of gay teen suicides has highlighted how difficult life can be growing up gay. I can understand a parent not wanting their child to ever feel that different and alone.

But I think this sentiment is misguided. It leads to parents urging their children to be "normal" so that they will be readily accepted by society at large. What happens, then, when a child does not conform to the parent's or community's idea of "normal"? Many times the child begins to fear, hate, and hide their differences because, as they have been told by mom and dad, they won't be accepted if they aren't what everyone else is. And this leads to exactly the feelings the well meaning parent hoped to avoid.

I hope to teach Luca exactly what my mother taught me, that "normal is just a setting on the dryer". I think if Luca walked through the door one day and announced he was gay I would greet the statement with much the same sentiment as if he announced he wanted to dye his hair green. "OK, that's nice dear, just don't leave a mess in the bathroom".

Of course, Chris and have always had our own ideas of who we want Luca to be. We imagine him growing into a concert pianist, a dancer, or an astrophysicist. But those are the things we value. I am amazed and elated each day as Luca begins to show me the things he values: his tool bench and his toy kitchen, his dolls and his trucks, swimming lessons and reading books. As much as I have dreams for him, I want to share his dreams, no matter what they are.

More than anything, I want him to know that he will always, always, be loved and accepted my his parents. There may be times when he feels different than everyone else, but that's OK. Because, to me, there will only ever be one Luca.

(PS. I found this interesting post about a mother who allowed her son to dress as Daphne for Halloween. He was then ridiculed, not by his classmates, but by their mothers. Worth a read.)


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