Trying to Keep a Tenderheart Tender

No time for the Where Ya Been?‘s so I’m just going to keep going like I’ve been blogging all along.  In my next post, which I’m going to call Taking Stock, I might explain what’s been going on this year.  Spoiler alert, it involves turning 40, a new puppy, a kitten, an aging dog, and a partridge in a falling aspen.  The last one was a stretch.

Did you know I have a third daughter?  Her Native American name is Rises with the Sun, but I’m going to start calling her Tenderheart because she, in fact, has a very tender heart.  She’s the most sensitive of all my brood and requires a lot of attention when my older two are gone, as in this week, next week, and the week after.  With her best friend out of town, this has been an extremely long week of entertaining Tenderheart.  But that’s not what my blog is going to be about either.

I posted HERE about the “My dog’s better than your dog” mom, and I’ve actually found a new one.  This mom somehow worked into a conversation about the weather that her third grade son is doing 11th grade math (I don’t care).  But she’s also an intolerant homophobe that drives me crazy with every conversation.  Her daughter, Devil Spawn (DS), and Tenderheart are inexplicably friends.  DS worships Lady Gaga and knows all the latest Hollywood gossip, whereas Tenderheart is actually a little more sheltered than that; and if you know my kids, that’s really saying something.  Tenderheart is one of the more immature fifth graders.

My first inclination that something was off with this mom, I’ll call her Jessie, for no other reason than it’s the first name that popped in my head, and I’ll be thinking of another name all night if I don’t move on, was when she came up to me to discuss a teacher that started this year.  The female teacher dresses like a boy and gives off a “gym teacher” vibe.  I don’t care, Ms. New Teacher has always been very nice to me.  Jessie, however, made a point to come over and do a whole diatribe on whether she’s a boy or a girl and how she would never feel comfortable having DS in her class.  Then to her daughter, she calls the teacher Mr. New Teacher, when there’s no question she’s female. 

I don’t understand intolerance.  When I left that original conversation I was so mad that I hadn’t said something.  Then I was mad that she thought I would think that was okay.  Then I wondered why she would ever think I thought that same way.  Do I put off an anti-gay vibe?  What part of my kids having two aunts makes you think I’m homophobic?   

The final straw was today, however, when in front of Tenderheart, DS told her mom she needed to call Ms. New Teacher; and Jessie said, I’m not calling that freak.  “that freak”  has been ringing in my ears all night.  I grabbed Tenderheart and walked away, but when I got in the car I almost started crying because there’s that much intolerance in the world.  That she’s going to pass that intolerance on to her daughter, who’s already kind of a bully. 

I want to keep Tenderheart tender hearted and not have her think that way about people who seem to be different.  I want her to be tolerant and loving and accepting and not petty and catty and just nasty.  And Tenderheart is all those good things, but I’m also not ready for her to see the harsh reality that not everyone thinks that way.  That there is a group of people that picket funerals and tornado sites with terribly homophobic signs.  I don’t want her to see that part of society yet.  She’s so young. 

I don’t even know what else to say except that I don’t know what else to say, and I’m not even going to bring religion into the topic except to say that Jessie is not a religious person, although I might suggest a Baptist church where she’ll fit right in.  I also understand that not everyone feels like I do; but in the immortal words of Rodney King, Can’t we all just get along?  There’s so much hate in the world, why do you have to teach it to your kids?

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1 Comment

  1. I feel so sad reading your post. It is excruciating to see this cruel treatment of another human being, and it must hurt so much when you realize your tenderhearted girl will encounter it no matter what you do. I’ve always been very tenderhearted. I got teased about it when I was a kid, and when I moved to NYC I had people advise me to put away my heart or I’d get too hurt here. Thankfully I’m old enough to know and love who I am, and I would not trade in my tender heart for tough skin ever — I feel so much beauty and joy through the cracks of all the sorrow now.

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