Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Expectations of Astronautism.

I have been meaning to write about this article I read the other day, "A Father's Reaction to His Very Young Gay Son". I finally just decided to neglect household chores to do so... Even though this dad doesn’t know it, this guy is a friend of mine, simply for his reaction to his son.

Now I’m not going to sit and analyze whether or not a 7 year old can truly identify as being gay. The three psychology classes I’ve had between high school and college qualify me to do so, just as much as they qualify me to design a skyscraper. I haven’t the first clue what changes a child may go through growing up, or with puberty, or anything like that, and I’m not going to pretend that I do. I'll also leave the horribly misguided and ignorant questions that he was asked, about what it means for his son to be gay, to another piece... Anyway, that is all entirely beside the point.

The point is the child told them “I’m gay”, and without question they turned around and said, “I love you.” I've already talked, in brief, about how I think other people should be treated for things they cannot change here (warning: the ending subject matter is entirely unrelated, and strongly worded :) ).

So... personally, I prefer dark hair and eyes on people in general, neither of my girls have that. I’m not going to be disappointed or upset at them for not possessing those things. Why would I be disappointed or upset about other things that they can’t change? Certainly I could dye their hair, and get them colored contacts, but it doesn’t change what is underneath in the slightest. More importantly, what they are or aren't, doesn’t change the fact that I love them.

I consider myself a very lucky person to have found more than a few people in my life that I love unconditionally, and that love me back the same way, my children being among them. What I mean is, there isn't a thing in the world that could change that I love that person. My girls could grow up and run a meth lab, or be a murderer, I would still love them… I’d be the first to pick up the phone and call the police on them, but I would still love them.

Certainly I have much, much, much higher expectations, aspirations, and hopes, for and of my girls than those two examples. It seems perfectly natural to have high expectations for what your child will become. You want the best for them, and you hope and dream that their life will be better than yours. For me at least, the sexual orientation of my children, is not among those expectations. I knew that to be true the first time I thought about my oldest becoming a teenager. Which, if the next six years go by as fast as the last seven, will probably be tomorrow… But the first thing that went through my head was, “TEENAGE BOYS!!!! OMGWTFBBQ!!!” I was one of those once, I know what THEY are. They are the reason my father-in-law said he’d buy me a shotgun when the time came, amongst many other hormone driven things. However, one of the very next thoughts through my head was, “Maybe she’ll bring home a nice girl. That’d make the teenage years much easier on daddy’s fragile little brain.” ...So there was that answer, not that I expected it to be different.

The thing is, and probably one of the hardest things to remember, no matter what you want for your child, those are YOUR expectations, aspirations, and hopes, not theirs. A child isn’t some toy you get to live vicariously through, and make act out whatever dreams you may have, they are another person. Sure they might share part of their genetics with you, but they are their own individual. As a parent you can try and point them in a certain direction, help them make good choices over bad, but you can’t change who they are or who they will become. A parent’s job is to help their child grow, help them be comfortable in their skin, and with who they are in the world. You have to love them for who they are, and not disparage them for what they are not. As soon as you start projecting your own expectations on them, or anyone else for that matter, along with any negative feelings you may have for that person not living up to those expectations, then you are just hurting them for something they likely can't, or don't want to do.

As hard as it may be to realize and accept, those negative feelings are your own to deal with. Since I started writing this, my expectation of you, is that you have grown up to be a gay astronaut. What do you mean you aren't a gay astronaut? HOW COULD YOU DO THAT TO ME AND MY CHILDREN!?!?!? ...Silly right? I mean just statistically there is almost no chance you are a gay astronaut. If you happen to be, I apologize for singling you out... my expectation of you was that you had become a straight gravedigger. Friggin overachiever, STOP HOSING UP MY EXAMPLE!!! ...Beyond that, you have no reason to take on my current disappointment in you for not being a gay astronaut, because when I got upset, the key word was me, how could you do that to 'me'. In reality, you did nothing to me, it was my expectation, and my disappointment. You are who you are. Hopefully that is who you want to be, or that you are working towards being that person. 

I’m not saying that dealing with feelings, like disappointment, anger, and so on, is necessarily an easy thing to do. In fact it might be one of the hardest things you have ever done in your life, I'll guarantee you it's worth it though. However, if you refuse to deal with your own feelings, about what another person is or is not, and then choose to project those feelings on that person instead... well… then I guess I have a coupon for hair dye you are welcome to have.

Hmmm... perhaps my example should have used a housekeeper... then I could have expected you to come over to the dishes and switch the laundry, because I sure as hell don't want to....

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