Monday, June 29, 2009

If I never play this game again...


... it will be too soon. Fortunately for me, I may never have to. Rowan has decided that I “play too slowly,” and now helpfully takes not only all of his turns, but all of mine as well, all the while narrating the game like a sportscaster on speed: “Okay, my turn: three! One, two, three! I’m on 37! Mom, I’m higher than you! Okay, mom, your turn: six! One, two, three, four, five, six! Mom! Look! You got a ladder! You go up, up, up, up, up — Mom! You’re on 84! Good job! But watch out, because if you get a three next time, you go down that big ladder. Okay, my turn: three again! One, two, three — oh no! I skated on thin ice! I go down a ladder! You’re winning, Mom! Okay, your turn: four! One, two, three, four! You missed the big ladder! Good job!”

And so on, and so on, and so on. This is a parenting strategy I like to refer to as Everybody Gets Most of What They Want, Most of the Time. Rowan gets to play his game, at the warp speed he prefers, and I get to murmur excited noises while reading the New York Times Sunday Styles section (which, in Thunder Bay, is generally delivered on Mondays, sometimes Tuesdays). In which, this week, I learned that, “Relationships between gay and straight men aren’t always easy, but stereotypes are falling.”

Oooh. Apparently, in the big city of New York, the gays and hets have tentatively figured out how to maybe be friends. At least, the guys — no mention of women. Whatever, I’m thinking: just move to a small town and you’ll have no choice.

Case in point: it was just Pride weekend. At least, it is places where they have Pride. Also known as places that are Not Here. All I wanted on Saturday was to take my children to the post–Dyke March beer garden. I wasn’t even envisioning idyllic: I would have settled for whining, demanding, overheated children in a beer garden in the middle of a city without garbage collection. Seriously, I would have. And then I read a whole bunch of blogs about moms who took their whining, demanding, overheated children to Pride, and I still wanted to be there.

My friend Tara, one half of the only other two-mom household I’m aware of in this fine city, suggested we try to create some kind of kid-focused Pride event. We discussed the idea, but the discussion kinda stalled around the question, “And which queer parents would we invite?” We scratched our heads for a while. “Well, there’s you...” she said, and trailed off. I thought of the woman at Rowan’s school with the rainbow sticker on her car: Rachel, excited, struck up a conversation with her one day, but we never got her name. There’s the woman who came up to me in the Scandinavian Home Restaurant in the winter because she recognized me from this blog — Pam! If you’re reading this: send up a flare! Jeez, if you made out with your same-sex roommate in college one drunken night and now live in Thunder Bay, send up a flare! — and then there’s, um … well. All the parents we usually hang out with. Our friends. Fine, fine, fabulous people, all of them. And all straight, as far as I can tell.

That's the thing about small places. You get to be friends with fabulous people, even when they are Heterosexual and you are Homosexual, because That’s How Things Work. In Toronto, I could surround myself with people just like me: I can, off the top of my head, for example, think of at least five other same-sex, interfaith couples with two kids, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of queer motherhood. Not to mention the dozens upon dozens of queer non-parents who are mainstays in the lives of so many of the gaybies (and their parents) in their midst.

And while I longed to be with all of them this weekend, I consoled myself with the fact that the community we have built and are building here is pretty damn lovable. And if we had stayed in Toronto, never moved to Somewhere Without Pride, I wouldn’t have known that. It’s not perfect, but neither is Toronto (even when the city workers are picking up garbage): I still long for more queer culture — not to mention more cafés, more art galleries, more patios, more walkable neighbourhoods — but it’s pretty damn good, from our mini Pride Sunday brunch with godmothers Judy and Jill to the community pizza potluck in the park that evening, where children danced in circles around giant cottonwood trees. Both versions my life — the urban and the small-town — have their ups and downs, but in the end, I suppose, Everybody Gets Most of What They Want, Most of the Time.

6 comments:

  1. Sounds like you're a part of a fantastic neighbourhood! Gay Pride is once a year, but your community is all year round.

    Perhaps a holiday is in order once a year to get that shot of Pride. Or you and Tara could throw streamers around your cars and drive around the block blaring music and blowing whistles out the window. Who knows? Maybe your neighbours would join in the fun.

    Happy Belated Pride!

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  2. ARGH. Blogger ate my comment. The short version...

    I agree. Take a pride vacation so that you can partake in the festivities and then return home to your lovely community. Have the best of both worlds.

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  3. Hi Susan,

    Amen, so nicely stated for all of us parents and not who live way out there, geographically speaking. If it makes you feel better, we are closing out 2 weeks of fog pride time, can't see a thing.
    You're doing great--we're all hanging on here & proud as hell in our little nearly invisible zones!
    Happy Belated!

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  4. There are other queer parents in Thunder Bay. I know, because I babysat for a gay dad, and for lesbian moms when I lived there.

    There's just no place for queer parents, or queer anybody, for that matter, to congregate. I think they were trying to start something up through the pride centre at LU for a while, but I don't know if it ever went anywhere. There are also a couple queer parents who attend The Lakehead Unitarian Fellowship, or at least there were, back when I attended, which was 3 or 4 years ago now.

    Most LGBTQ* folks I know in TBay seem to head en masse to Toronto for pride. I still hold out hope that one day my home town be able to have its own celebration...

    ReplyDelete
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