She was so little, only in first grade. The question caught me off guard.
"My friend Michelle has two moms and she says that's cause her mom is a lesbian. What's a lesbian, mommy?"
(Think fast, mommy.)
Well, I said, you know how in this house we have a mommy and a daddy and you and your brother and sister? Uh-huh, she says. Well, I say, there are all kinds of families. A lot of families are just like us with a mommy and a daddy but some have two daddies or two mommies instead. When there are two mommies or two women living together they are called lesbians.
Ohhhh she says, shrugging her little shoulders, and skips away to watch cartoons.
I thought I handled that pretty well. That is, until her teacher called a few weeks later to tell me that my daughter was spreading the word at school that the school librarian (who was a single mother living with her widowed mother) was a lesbian. Oh, the drama that ensued!
Clearly, my two mommy two daddy explanation needed a bit of first grade suitable elaboration and clarification. But how to explain to her why everything went so horribly wrong? Why all the adults at school were so upset? She was confused.
What could I say when confronted with her bewildered upturned face? Children, in their innocence, use labels simply to keep everything straight in this content rich world. Judgment and prejudice are learned later from all the adults in their lives. I had to proceed carefully.
I don't remember how I explained everything to her but I do remember her reaction. She thought it was pretty stupid for everyone to be so upset over something so simple. And then she skipped away to watch cartoons.
I must have done okay.