As I stated in a recent article, raising our two children has been a blast for my wife and I. We each worked but held to our promise for one of us to be with them whenever they were not in school and still in the ‘child’ mode. This was a huge promise but we did manage it somehow.
I remember an old TV show called ‘Kids say the darndest things’, starring Art Linkletter. Never was a truer statement made than this, for little children don’t know any better than to say it like it is. Accordingly, our daughter, Jesse, one day on the way home from third grade with me as chauffeur, looked over and said, “Daddy, I think Bob is gay.”
This took my breath for a second as I instantly tried to think what to say in return. All I could think of was to ask who Bob was. “A boy in my class’, she answered.
“Jesse, do you know what gay means?” I asked.
She furrowed her little brow for a minute, staring straight ahead, and finally admitted that she did not. Now the onus was on me to explain the meaning of this and it was my time to furrow my brow. Staring straight ahead, fearful, hoping I could explain the meaning of ‘gay’ to my little girl in a way she could understand, we came upon Cindy’s store and I wheeled in and parked. Hopping out I said, “Let’s go in and shop for a treat.” I was hoping to distract her little mind so that she would forget about the matter at hand and my ploy worked until we were back on the road. We had travelled only a mile or so when she looked at me and said, ‘Well, are you going to tell me what gay means or not?”
Now the heat was on. I did not think to tell her to wait until her Mother got home to explain this thing, so I just did the best I could, took a deep breath, and said, “Jesse, being gay means when a man marries another man.” (Gimme a break here; given the circumstances, it was the best I could do for an eight year old.) She gave me a puzzled look with her head cocked sideways for a moment, then stared straight ahead with her brow furrowed again, deep in thought.
We made it almost home and I was beginning to think she had forgotten the matter when she turned to me and innocently said, “But Daddy, if a man marries a man, they can’t have anything but boy babies, can they?”
I could only smile and say, “I think that is pretty much it, honey.”
I left it to her Mother to carry on from there.
It was times like this, and they were many, that made raising a daughter so memorable and special. There’s nothing sweeter than a little girl; sugar and spice. Jesse had the distinction, in June 1990, of being the first infant ever allowed aboard the USS Pennsylvania, a Trident submarine. The sailors made quite a fuss over her.
Rightly so! I do the same even today, for though she is a grown woman she will always be Daddy’s little girl.