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Mouths of Babes

My grandson Zachary has “special needs.” He was a preemie and for the first year of his life, went through most of the list of preemie complications. A  M.R.I. of his brain, says he should be wheel chair bound with severe mental impairment. It is true that he seldom walks. That is because he runs almost everywhere he goes and has never been in a wheelchair except to play in mine. He is slightly developmentally delayed. Though he is eleven, he reminds me often of a five or six year old in his innocence. At other times, he displays wisdom far beyond his years, or even beyond the evolution of humankind itself.

Last year, he began using the term, “gay” in name calling. He even used the term, “fag” a couple of times. Of course, we were shocked, but also aware he was copying what he had heard and seen and even been called at school. We asked him if he knew what either term meant and he did not. That my relationship with Lee could be something  to illicit being called a name, escaped him then and still does.

He spent a few days with us before school started again. One morning, he sat with Lee and had the following conversation,

Zachary- “You’re a man in a girl body.”

Lee- “That’s right.”

Zachary- “I think that’s really cool.You’re really a man, but you look like a girl.”

Lee- “That’s right.”

Zachary- “I think it’s cool.”

Lee-“I’m glad.”

Zachary does not have 20/20 vision and has his share of physical challenges. He also has a willingness to embrace those that are different and a curiosity to learn. Instead of judging or assuming, he asks questions. He often says things that shock us and even embarrass us. He holds nothing back. There is never confusion when it comes to what Zachary thinks or how he feels about something. His honesty is at times alarming. Mostly, it is refreshing.

He probably understands more about Lee and I than many in our family and most of our friends. He understands because he has asked. He asks because he is genuinely interested. He is interested because he cares.

We fear what we don’t understand. I believe that most prejudice vanishes once the issue becomes personal. When it’s personal, we seek understanding. In that seeking, we ask questions. We ask the questions because we care. We care because it’s personal, especially if the one who is different is someone we love. At least, I’d like to think it is that way. That hasn’t always been my experience. At least it is with Zachary.

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August 17, 2010 - Posted by | The Gay Me | , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. kids have this way of being so genuine and honest. Their natural curiosity and lack of prejudice is amazing. People say we teach kids to grow up to become good people, but the truth is – kids teach us so much about ourselves and the world that it makes us grow and become better.

    Comment by Dace | August 21, 2010 | Reply

    • I so agree. As parents, adults, I think our job is not to mold them, but to try not to screw them up too badly.

      Comment by New Allie | August 21, 2010 | Reply


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