More often than not, my 11-year-old son Chase initiates a serious conversation with me when I am otherwise occupied and unable to make eye contact and use body language to signal that he has my undivided attention. He has employed this tactic while I’ve been driving, cooking dinner and running on the treadmill in our garage.
The other night, as I sat on my bathroom floor painting my toenails, Chase walked in and asked if he could soak in the bath. I should have known something was up; he always takes a shower.
He ran the water, added some bubbles, stepped in, sat down and closed the shower curtain. He said something that I couldn’t hear over the running bath water.
“I can’t hear you. Wait until you turn the water off,” I shouted.
“It’s really sad that some parents don’t accept their kid if they are gay,” he said. “Is that really true?”
“Yeah, it’s true and it is really, really sad….” I said before he interrupted me.
“I just can’t believe it. I just read an article about it online,” he said in a voice full of worry.
We’ve been open with both of our sons that not everyone is supportive of the LGBTQ community – even some parents of community members. But, Chase didn’t believe me until he read it online.
“But, you know that we will love you and support you no matter what, right?” I had stopped painting my nails and was now talking to the shower curtain.
“I know that. You and dad would love me the same no matter if I’m gay or straight.” He sounded assured.
“I don’t care if you love a boy or a girl, I just want you to be with someone who is good and kind and treats you well and who you want to treat well. I want you to have a good partner.”
“If I date a transgender person, does that make me bisexual?” he asked.
I didn’t see that question coming. I looked bewilderingly at the shower curtain.
“Ummmmm….” I had to think, but was having a hard time concentrating as the conversation had quickly taken a turn down a path I had not anticipated.
“Is the transgender person you are potentially dating a boy or a girl?
“Okay, so she was born with a boy body but identifies as a girl and lives as a girl and dresses as a girl?” I clarified.
“Yes, I think so.”
“Is this a real life girl you’re thinking about?” I asked.
“NO!” He still isn’t totally comfortable admitting to me when he finds someone attractive.
“Okay, sorry, just checking. Ummm, I guess that’s a little bit tricky.” I didn’t want to ask if the fictional transgender female had transitioned medically because I was already getting bogged down by logistics. “To me, that would make you straight and would make her straight. But, I guess to some people that would make you bisexual….”
“Okay, then that would be the only time I’m bisexual, the rest of the time I’d be straight,” he said quickly.
“Sounds good,” I said, not knowing what to say and rolling my eyes at myself for only the shower curtain to see. “I guess that could also make you pansexual,” I offered — because I couldn’t leave well enough alone.
“What does pansexual mean?” he asked.
“It means that you fall in love with the person, not their sex or gender.”
“I think I’ll be pansexual because that starts with ‘pan’ and ‘pancake’ starts with ‘pan’ and pancakes are my favorite food,” he reasoned.
I’d never heard someone identify sexually based on a sexual orientation sounding like their favorite breakfast food, but who was I to judge.
“Pancakes are good,” I agreed.
I heard him pull the drain and the water start to empty from the tub. He pulled the shower curtain back.
“I think it’s really cool that you’re open to dating a trans person. You have a good heart,” I said.
“Thanks,” he said hurriedly as he wrapped himself in a towel and scurried out of the room quickly, avoiding the dreaded eye contact that accompanies conversations about love and sex between mother and tween son.