Months ago we had a family date night. The four of us went out for Chinese food and, then, I needed to walk next door to the grocery store to buy toilet paper. Fun date night, right?
I wasn’t familiar with that particular store and I couldn’t find the toilet paper. I was walking around looking for a needle in the haystack with C.J.’s Brother’s help while C.J. and his Dad were whispering and conspiring about convincing me to buy something great for dessert while we were there. C.J. wanted cupcakes. C.J. always wants cupcakes. My argument that a fortune cookie is dessert wasn’t going to hold up, I could tell.
“Mom, why don’t you just buy these lady toilet papers and let’s go,” C.J.’s Brother yelled at me. He was standing next to an enormous display of on-sale tampons. He was holding a mega box with a tampon for every flow over his head; like a champion racecar driver holding up a gold cup.
“No, baby, I need to find the toilet paper,” I said, trying to ignore the scene.
“Mooooooommmmmmm, just buy this lady toilet paper. We want to go,” C.J.’s Brother said louder, with a hint of nagging. Tampons still hoisted high.
A woman nearby was stifling laughter. By this time, C.J.’s Dad saw what was happening. He quickly went over to C.J.’s Brother, took the box of tampons out of his hands, sat it back on the display, smiled at the lady witness, put his arm around our oldest son and distracted him. I found the toilet paper.
“I don’t see why you wouldn’t just buy that lady toilet paper that I found for you,” C.J.’s Brother said. His feelings were a little hurt.
“Because, baby, that isn’t exactly lady toilet paper and, besides, we all need toilet paper,” I said.
“Well, then what are those things anyway? I see them in your bathroom.”
I looked at my husband and he looked at me. I explained what tampons are and what they are for as we paid for our toilet paper and cupcakes and walked back to the car.
C.J.’s Brother cried all the way home. He cried for all the ladies who have ever had their period and for all of the girls he knows who will get their period one day. He ran down the list.
“Do you get a period?”
“Yeah, when she was younger.”
“What about Saige?”
“Not yet, but one day she will.”
“This is just so horrible. I feel so sad for all of you girls,” he said through his tears.
As we ended our discussion he looked at his dad and me.
“I’m sorry, but I just don’t know how I’ll ever look at you two the same again.” With that, he walked out of our room and I went to Game Stop to buy him the video game he had been coveting. I felt like he deserved a gift for having his world rocked. And, I wanted him to have something to get his mind off of his dad and me having sex.
A few days later C.J.’s Brother was in my bedroom talking to me as I got ready for the day when he mentioned that one of his buddies and a girl from their class were dating. I asked if he was attracted to anyone at school. When I talk to my kids about their current or future attractions, I never assume that they are gay or straight.
“Mom, I’m straight. It’s time you faced the facts,” he said.
“What?” I was shocked by his directness.
“I know what you’re doing. You always leave it open, like I could be gay. But, I’m not,” he said.
I walked over to the bed where he was.
“Okay, but you know that if you were gay or are gay that is totally cool, too, right?” I said.
“Yes, of course, but I’m not.”
“Okay, but if your feelings change….”
“MOM! I’m straight!” he said with firmness, a smile and a shake of his head.
“C.J.’s Brother came out. He says he’s straight,” I told Uncle Uncle.
“What do you mean ‘he says he’s straight’?” Uncle Uncle said.
“Well, things could change….” I said.
“Babe, he just came out to you. He told you that he is straight. You have to listen to him and work from that for now and acknowledge it and believe it. That’s it. He’s straight. You have to honor that – just like you would if C.J. told you that he was gay. Both of your kids know that you love them and support them and accept them whether they are gay or straight. But, when they tell you like that you have to believe them.”
My brother was right. I want my kids to know that their sexuality would never change the way I feel about them. They can be anywhere on the spectrum of sexuality and still have my unconditional love, acceptance and support. But, when they stake a claim on the spectrum like C.J.’s Brother did, they have to know that I hear them and believe them.
So, my oldest son is going into the fifth grade at the school for gifted students. He has his sights set on becoming a doctor (although, probably not a gynecologist, given how menstruation brings him to tears). He starts a new season of flag football next month. And, he is straight. I am the proud mother of a straight son.