Bionic Mamas

you're not losing a vagina, you're gaining a son

In which the Bean stands up for himself

14 Comments

Hello. Sugar here. Things are lovely chez Bionique these days. Jackalope spends stretches of time sleeping at night! Bionic is not demonstrably depressed! I am home cooking food! I thought I would satisfy you all with some pictures of our recent doings before moving on to the story I really want to tell you.

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As you might imagine, the Bean is a bit bored, what with everyone being sick and the snow just dumping down day after day. I was finally feeling well enough to take him somewhere on Tuesday, and he chose the Botanic Garden. The two of us trekked up there through the snow only to discover that it was closed due to “ice conditions.” So, The Bean suddenly decided that we might as well stop in at the Brooklyn Museum. This we did.

When we were finished looking at the floor with all the historic houses and house models we came out to the elevator area and found a guard who addressed the Bean loudly. As in, “hello little guy!” at the top of his voice. He was one of those old white farts who pretends that he wants to have a conversation with a child, but actually just want to hear himself talk. He went off on a random monologue about the age of various houses on the floor, which went over the Bean’s head, segued into discussing his own house and how old it was, and wound all this up with “…just like your mommy and daddy.”

The whole time the man was talking the Bean was surreptitiously pulling on my hand, as in, oh god, can’t we just get on the elevator? But when the mommy and daddy statement happened he stopped. He looked at the floor, like he was reasoning something out, and then he looked up at the guard, gave him a hard stare, and said quite loudly, “actually, I have a mommy and a mama.” His tone said, duh, what rock have you been living under?

Mr. Guard said nothing, so I repeated what the Bean had said, verbatim, in case he hadn’t caught the Bean’s enunciation. Mr. Guard gave me a troubled smile but still said nothing. So we got on the elevator and left. Once the doors had shut I told Bean that he had done a terrific job, that not everybody knows about all the different kinds of families and that it is a fine idea to educate them.

In my heart, however, I feel conflicted about this incident. Part of me was very pleased, both to be validated by my kid and to hear him stand up for himself. But part of me feels sad and probably guilty that my “life choices” have put my son in the position of needing to stand up for himself and his family. It was stressful watching the Bean navigate this awkwardness at the age of not quite three. Of course it probably helped that he clearly thought the man was an idiot. I’m glad that it wasn’t a teacher or a friend or someone he had developed any respect for. But still.

So, two and a half cheers and an “enh” for reaching this milestone, I guess. Have a picture of the Bean painting his new firehouse, otherwise known as a cardboard box:

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(Bionic says this picture should be titled “objects in photo less darling than they appear”)

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14 thoughts on “In which the Bean stands up for himself

  1. Well, I say good for him. He’s tellin’ it like it is. Like old, bigoted, crotchety, white, male professors (also known as dinosaurs) one can hope that variety of person will eventually die out.

  2. we recently had a similar experience and I had the same (mixed!) reaction. At least at this age, Iz (and seemingly the Bean) had no qualms about correcting them — and the socio-political implications of the reaction.

  3. Good for the Bean. I’m sure they’ll go through all sorts of stages with family acceptance as they grow. Hopefully many of them will be positive (for the Bean, not society. Society can go F&^% itself). Juju has had her own incidents with a boy at daycare who, I think, was mostly joking in a 5 year old sort of way when he repeatedly told her that Daddy was here to pick her up. Juju, for her part, just laughed, but two and a half cheers and an ehh from me on that one too. I think your conversation in the elevator was spot on. Just the right way to frame it. With daycare and school situations and whatnot I plan to just head these misconceptions off as much as possible with a heads up to the providers but you can’t really do anything about random idiot strangers. In my own classroom I’m careful to always say “family” unless I’m addressing a specific child and know thier situation well. As in, “Please take this home to your family.” We should make that the rule.

    Also, gorgeous baby. The Bean and Bionic look amazing as well. Congrats again.

  4. People will be people, and most will lack a filter, so the world is basically a sewer of mental drainage of so! Many! PEOPLE! 🙂
    Gorgeous photos! Gorgeous family! There will always be something we blame ourselves for as parents, so don’t worry, all parental life choices have to be judged, blamed and defended at one point or another, not only yours, but everyone’s. Love your family and do your best. And nevermind the rest. I tried not to go for that obvious rhyme, but oh well.

  5. That’s so wonderful! 🙂

  6. Lovely pics! And yay for The Bean telling it like it is.

  7. Totally get why it was tough to witness, but I think it’s awesome. Some day he will have to weigh the options about whether it’s worth his time/the hassle/risk to correct people, but for now I suspect it’s not that much different for The Bean than it would have been if he was accused of eating an apple when it was really a pear or of being a dinosaur when one was CLEARLY a dragon. (Yes, I have been chastised for my incorrect assessment of both these situations.) Get the practice in early and it becomes that much less awkward the next time. We hope.

    Love the photos and so glad to hear that health and happiness are the m.o. ’round there.

  8. The Bean acquitted himself admirably, as did you. The yammering idiot not so much. Yes, you and Bionic have brought the Bean into a world which is occupied by stupid people, but that doesn’t mean that you have anything to feel guilty about. You are responsible for not being stupid yourself, which you are not, and for doing your best to help him to negotiate a world in which stupidity does, in fact, exist, which you are doing. Otherwise, though, what can you do? No matter who you are, people can find something to judge. That’s really about them, not about you. I know that you know that, but try to let yourself believe it. It does hurt to experience these things. Clearly, though, the Bean is a force to be reckoned with, so try not to worry too much about the future.

    Thanks for sharing the gorgeous pic of your amazing family. It warmed the cockles of my heart.

  9. Somehow I think the Bean will be just fine.

    More photos please!
    x

  10. Good on the Bean.

    Does the heart good to see everyone looking so well.

  11. So darling–from the baby (!!) to the firehouse (!) without exception. I think it’s great that Bean can correct people who make dumb assumptions–it’s possible that the doddering old man actually didn’t realize that there were other options (I mean, in Brooklyn? But anything is possible) and maybe will be a little less heteronormative next time. Or maybe not. But in either case, hurray for Bean for not feeling like he has to slink away without correcting the mistake and then feel bad for betraying his family or anything else.

  12. Glad to hear that things with Jackalope are off to a good start. I love the pictures! Everyone looks lovely!
    And I’ve had similarly mixed reactions to watching my son stick up for his family. It sucks that the Bean has to do it (especially at not-yet-3). But you have a lot to be proud of that he handled the situation so well.

  13. Look at that gorgeous family! You guys look like a lifestyle magazine for a life I’d like to be in. I’m really happy to hear that Bionic is not hiding in a closet weeping all the time. Long may it remain thus, and the sleeping a little thing , OH THANK GOD. I want to kiss that baby and that toddler some more.

    It sounds like Bean is off to a brilliant start, and I’m also a big fan your explanation. Accurate! Compassionate! I feel like every kid has to learn to stick up for his or her family, though not every family has such a big ticket item. The good news is that by the time he’s got to explain your weird taste in music or food, he’ll be super practiced.

  14. Your family is adorable! Thanks for the pictures.
    And I’m very proud of the Bean.

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