I thought I'd tell a story today I've told a few times before, but it's one that, to me, proves this fear we harbour about our differences is one we learn, not one we're born with. It happened a few Christmases ago when my daughter was maybe four or five. That year, I was working full time, and I turned the Christmas shopping over to my husband. He's a smart guy. I knew he could handle taking the list and checking off the items we had decided to buy for the kids. One of the items on The Girl's list was a Ken doll. She had a few barbies and she wanted a boy so she could stage a grand wedding.
Well, my husband being the kind of guy he is, waited until the last minute to do his shopping. He couldn't find a Ken doll to save his life, so he compromised and bought our little girl a Bratz Boy. Problem solved. Or so he thought.
The trouble with Bratz is that their anatomy is all off. Their heads are huge, they're shorter than Barbies, and you have to remove their entire gigantic foot to change their shoes. The Girl explained that such a comic-book charicature of a boy was not a Ken doll, and Barbie liked him to play sports with, but didn't want to marry him.
A few days later, I walk into The Girl's room to find a wedding feast in full swing, and I asked, full of pride for seeing my daughter overcome the idea that two such dissparate dolls couldn't marry, if Babie had changed her mind.
Her reply? "Sort of. Turns out she just wanted to marry someone else." She held up another Barbie, dark-haired and sporting a brilliant blue ball gown. "She married Jasmine. They've been friends for, like, ever, and she doesn't know Bratz very well. He just came. So got to be the surfer flower boy." She in turn held up the Bratz Boy, decked out in a tiara of silk roses and a Hawaiian shirt and cargo shorts.
She leaned the Barbies against her garbage can and went about clearing the wedding away in favour of a picnic. "They can't kiss until they're older, though. At least six."
Of course, I'm paraphrasing her words. It was a long time ago, but the gist of what she said is very clear in my memory. It never entered her head that Barbie couldn't or shouldn't marry Jasmine. Only that she didn't want to marry some guy she just met just because he was a boy and she was a girl.
Now my daughter is twelve and time will sort out who she marries, if she marries. I hope with all my heart, that she keeps that open heart she had on that long ago wedding day. And that she chooses someone who is good to her, loves her, and respects her. Because that is all I want for my little girl--for both my kids--Love, Honour and Respect. It's not too much to hope for.
(Side note, if you want to enter to win books that I hope depict all the varied reasons why love should be celebrated in all it's flavours, please comment on the previous post so I can find all the entries.)