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My Baby Story (Chapter 19- Judah makes a difference one person at a time)

18 Jul

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Do y’all remember how I said Carol and I had made a commitment to live our lives honestly and openly? Well, once we had Judah and once he could talk, there was definitely no turning back. As many parents know you never know what is going to come out of the mouth of your kid and when in the case of same sex parenting it can make it very entertaining. Judah must have been three years old when he and I had gone to one of our smaller local super markets. You know the one where you can get a cup of coffee while walking around. The entire time we were shopping all Judah could think about was wanting to help put the things we bought on the counter at the check out. Once I told him he could all he did was rush me to get to the checkout. When we finally were checking out, Judah was more than ready to place each of the items on the counter. The cashier smiled at him and said, “Why you must be a big help to your mom.” Now, let me interrupt here. Judah called me Momma and called Carol Mom. So, when the cashier told Judah he must be a big help to his mom, Judah was confused. I could see it all over his face. Without hesitating Judah looked at the cashier and said, “My mom is at home. She doesn’t know what I’m doing. This is my Momma.” At that moment when Judah corrected the cashier the confused look moved her face.

At first I remember thinking I would just stay out of it and allow Judah to do the explaining. After all the kid was doing a good job on his own. But, also I felt conflicted. Now I know I promised to be out and proud but, it was at that moment I realized something. I did have compassion for the cashier. Her confusion was genuine and not mean. I didn’t want to embarrass her. And so I felt caught between supporting my son and keeping the cashier from feeling bad. But, when Judah looked at me for my support I had to support my child. So in a quiet tone I said to Judah, “Yep, Judah’s mom is at home and she would be proud to hear what you’ve done. And then I looked at the cashier in the same tone and told her that Judah had two moms.” I remember Judah standing up so proudly. OK, he probably did that because I told him mom would be so proud of him for helping. He was the kind of kid who loved being told we were proud of him.

Well, when I reiterated what Judah had said the cashier’s face started turning a bright shade of red. I felt so bad. She was a very nice lady. But the reality was my son and the lessons I was teaching him needed to come first. It was important I showed him that I supported him but I also wanted him to see how to handle situations like that. After all it was as good as time as any for him to learn not everyone understands our family.

When we left the store that day Judah found the cashier’s lack of understanding “dumb”. He asked, “Why was that lady so dumb?” I told him that wasn’t nice to say but asked why he asked. He told me, “Momma! (in his winey you should know tone) You, me and mom come here all of the time. That lady always sees us. So, she should know.” Here was the thing. This was Judah’s first experience with how others make assumptions that he has a mom and dad. And so I explained to Judah that because there aren’t a lot of family’s like ours where kids have two moms or two dads, people just assume what is the majority (which is to have a mom and a dad). Judah told me understood that but he couldn’t understand how the woman couldn’t have noticed when we shopped there. Well, as correct as Judah was, I had to tell him it wasn’t that so cut and dry. I told him not everyone even thinks there could be family’s like ours so sometimes they want to make one of us the mother and the other the grandmother (or aunt). What they observe could be seen in a different way. When I looked at Judah to see if he understood, I could see his confusion had returned which was OK. It really wasn’t for him to understand at that point. I just wanted Judah to understand that not everyone will get that we are a family (like anyone else) nor understand how Judah could have two moms. That is not something to figure out but to simply accept. Of course Judah was young so that concept would take time. Meanwhile, it was really important that he saw how I handled the situation and the care I took in talking to the cashier. Being kind was the point I wanted him to see.

About two weeks later Carol and Judah returned to the same store to get a few things for a picnic we were having. While there Judah saw the woman who had been our cashier. Meanwhile, I had not told Carol about what had happened, so she only recognized the woman from our previous trips there. Well, before they were done shopping that woman walked up to Carol and Judah. She had something in her hand. She squatted down to Judah’s level and she showed him three bags of jelly beans. I’ll never forget the colors because it was right before the Fourth of Judah (red, white and blue). Anyway as she handed Judah each bag of jelly beans she said, “This one is for your mom. This one is for your momma. And this one is for you.” Now folks, remember Carol was clueless as to what had happened just two weeks earlier. I’m not sure why I hadn’t told her. I suppose I forgot? Not sure. So, Carol had no idea why the cashier was not only giving him the candy but even more so saying “this is for mom, momma and you”. She was just thinking I had probably had a conversation with her and told her.

Now, I had been waiting in the car. When they got back to the car I saw Judah holding three bags of jelly beans. THREE BAGS!? I was going to chastise Carol for buying them for Judah but before I could get made, Carol told me in a “no big deal my kid probably got the candy because the lady thinks he’s so cute manner” that one of the employees gave it to him. Carol also told me what the lady had said when she handed Judah to candy. When I asked her which employee it was she told me it was the lady we always see. Carol was a bit annoyed that I kept asking her so many questions. Couldn’t I just accept what the lady in the store had done and move on. BUT no, I had to ask 100 questions. I had to know if it was the same lady that checked us out two weeks prior because as you can see it was significant. As Carol was getting annoyed with me asking so many questions Judah chimed in telling me it was the woman who checked us out a couple of weeks before. Listen, I’m not kidding. Our kid was creepy that way. He had a memory on him that was incredible. So, when Judah told me it was the lady from two weeks earlier, I knew he was right. And so one he confirmed who it was I was in shock. I just couldn’t believe what an amazing gesture that was for her to do that. Folks to say I was blown away would have been a total understatement. That “small” gesture of giving Judah the candy and acknowledging his two moms was huge! Of course Judah didn’t get it. He was just thrilled to get the candy. AND once I finally explained everything to Carol, she too thought that act of kindness from that woman was amazing.

From that day forward whenever we were at that grocery store that employee would ask Judah about his mom or momma (whoever wasn’t with him). We developed a nice rapport with her. After shopping there for 5 years one day we realized we hadn’t seen her in a while. We were worried about her so asked our cashier during one of our visits where she was. Well, folks get this. The cashier who did such a wonderful gesture by giving our son the jelly beans would you believe she had won the million dollar lottery? That was the absolute truth. Now usually I was jealous when I’d hear someone won but Carol and I could not have been more thrilled and happy for her. She deserved it. It was obvious to us that her gesture had not gone unnoticed.

Listen, it took a special person like that cashier to do what she did. At the same time I’m sure it helped when she could see Judah was just like any other kid. Also, she clearly was not accustomed to meeting family’s like ours nor was she used to families like ours being so blunt as to who we were. More importantly, that was the lesson we wanted to teach Judah. Not everyone’s “ignorance” means they hate us. It just meant (like in the case of this cashier) she didn’t know.

Because of the area we live in and the lack of out gay parents (which grabs my goat because they are only teaching their children to be ashamed), the select few who are out become the “poster children” for lack of better words. Sadly, being so visible does put our family in a position where we are noticed more than we realize. And so Judah will have to get used to it. I hate for him to live with that pressure. He didn’t ask for it. The reality though is none of us choose the cards we are dealt. In that regard Judah is no different. Just like all of us, he will have adversity in his life. Will it be because he has two moms? Will it be because he’s Jewish? Will it be something totally different? Who knows? Unfortunately, many of us have had to deal with those adversities in our lives and fortunately, through the help of our parents we got through it. And so, it’s up to Judah to handle any and all that comes his way with of course us by his side guiding him. Meanwhile, it certainly couldn’t hurt for him to feel a little pressure because he has two moms to conduct himself in a manner above some of his peers (like those kids on the cruise). Maybe it’ll keep him out of trouble? I hope! So, far though I am so proud of Judah. He has a special quality where he stands up for others quicker than he does for himself. I can only hope he surrounds himself with good people who will do the same for him.

It’s funny. Our kid has changed many minds including our own. Judah is part of a generation where he won’t have to read all kinds of studies to know he was raised in a loving and caring home. He also won’t be restricted by the bigotries of the generation before him. My mom once told me we were the product of our own generation’s teachings (good and bad). No matter how hard we might try to fight against what we felt was wrong, it was almost impossible to break away. In many cases society’s influences usually pushed us back. But by understanding that fact we could give our children the power to go beyond our limitations. I am incredibly proud to give Judah that gift (of power). I am also proud that he already understands to embrace families for loving their children instead of judging them for what others seem to think is lacking.

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