Friday, July 24, 2009

Animal Daddies and My Daddy

A conversation I envision some years down the road...


Harris: Mom, why don't I have a daddy?


Me: Well, "daddy" is the name for a parent that is male. Mommy and I are both female. That is why you don't have a "daddy".


Harris: But all of my friends have a mommy AND a daddy.


Me: Not all sweetie- little Joey has 1 mommy, and, well, little Tiffany only has a daddy, and little Stephan has a grandmom and granddad. See? Not everyone has to have 1 mommy and 1 daddy.


Harris: Mom, you are so smart... and beautiful... and talented... and...


Ok, so maybe I got a little carried away with that last bit... I never really envisioned the answer to that question to be all that difficult. I figure, he will want a matter-of-fact kind of answer- most kids do. I don't really feel the need to delve into the whole emotional and dynamic world of homosexuality when my young child asks me this. The answer, as stated above, I think is very true to life and honest.


So why am I writing this post? Because I am confused. Confused about what? A children's book entitled "Animal Daddies and My Daddy". It is a simple, innocent Little Golden Book circa 1968.
When I called my mom and asked her to send a collection of books for Harris from when I was growing up, she did, gladly, and purposefully put each book into that box that she felt Harris would enjoy. I was overjoyed when that box came, and I poured over all of the fantastic books that I remembered from my childhood. Then I came across this book, and I didn't know what to make of it really. On one hand, the book is really cute and sweet. It has beautiful pictures and a warmth to it's pages that I would love to share with Harris.

But I can't get passed the "Daddy" part... It is very Daddy heavy- obviously- it is all about Daddies. So... what do I do? I don't want to confuse his young mind that is still trying to find the right words to call us. I think that it would be supremely confusing to bring about this "daddy character" when there is no such thing in Harris' life. Also, it just makes me feel a bit unsettled to read "daddy this" and "daddy that". Can anyone else share their thoughts on this? What do I do with this book?

5 comments:

  1. what about seeing 'daddy' as you might see 'grandma' or 'uncle' -- i.e. some kids have them, some don't. Then you could ask H, 'is there anyone in your life who is like a daddy?' or 'who carries you on their shoulders?' note: I'm a little concerned that people reading this who don't know me will think I have never thought about the politics/meaning of all this, but trust me, I have, and I'm also a very pregnant lesbian, and I'm curious about your thoughts about approaching it like this. -Emily (my two emails are wire-crossed) unless the book is just so gender-bound or otherwise not appealing, in which case you could donate it or recycle it... ;)

    btw, *loved* reading about your camping trip!

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  2. This is a great take on it. It may just become that medium someday for the exact "daddy talk" that you mentioned. Oh and I totally think Harris will end it with the "you are amazing" comment that you anticipate! :)

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  3. If the book makes you uncomfortable for now, don't give it to him. I mean, that's the easy part!

    The reality is that daddies exist. Maybe not for Harris, but there are daddies all around him. All over the world, there are daddies. So to me, stories with daddies are cool because they show the sort of reality that most of the kids Punk knows have: mommy and daddy. Of course, Punk LOVES the books with two mommies and she gets really excited about them and loves to bring them to day care.

    So I guess my 2 cents is: I like books about daddies just fine, but I don't know that I would be reading my child a book about "my daddy" when my kid doesn't have one. And when there are daddies in books, she's just reminded of all of the daddies in her life... they're just not HER daddies. :)

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  4. Good question. We don't have any daddy-heavy books at home but if I see one at the library, I pass it up. If it has a mom and a dad and the story is balanced with both, and it's a good story, I will get it.

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  5. This is tough one. First of all, if you're unsettled, that will come across and that's the last thing you'd want. That may be your answer right there ;)

    For us, (oldest is 7, twins are almost 2), we would include it. Books are meant to take you away to a world that is not your own. "My daddy" is first person--it's not implying the reader's daddy, it's the child in the story. In fact, this story is a great opportunity to talk about what that family looks like (in the story) and what your family looks like. In a simple way. We do lots of talking about all the different kinds of families, too. Part of that is stories that include all kinds (even traditional ones).

    Although I have to say, as a 2 mama family with an older kid, it will probably fall on deaf ears for a lot longer. I think it's great to say it and talk about it (they are little sponges, after all) but, at least for us, Max was at least 5 before he starting really thinking about it. Before that it just was.

    Good luck with this!
    Alissa

    P.S. Of course, without reading the book, maybe it does say your daddy. If it does, that's different. I wouldn't want a book that assumed the reader has a daddy. That's where the confusion really begins...

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