Another insane weekend this past weekend but one where we stayed in town all weekend. It is a miracle. On Friday, we traveled to Jon’s hometown of Marion, Ohio to the local YMCA to see Maria and her cousin in their swim lessons.
They took an entire week of lessons at the Marion YMCA, which meant that they got a whole week at Grandma and Grandpa Ionno’s house. Maria was in heaven. I am convinced that Jon’s mom, Patty, is the energizer bunny. I think if I took off the bunny’s suit in that commercial, Patty would be under it. She has more energy than a 40-year-old (she is 70); actually, she has more energy than most 25 year olds! She loves taking her grandkids and in a true testament to her, they love staying with her for days on end. In addition, it is absolutely wonderful to see these two girl cousins build a strong, loving relationship with one another (although Patty has nicknamed them the “bickersen twins” because of the way they bicker at each other through the day)!
On Saturday, I took Maria down to the Gay Pride Parade. I never hesitated taking her down there until I got questioned about it by some close friends.
“Why do you want to take her down there? “
All of the questioners were supporters of gay rights but questioned taking a five-year old to a festival where there may be “strange behavior.” To their credit, there was “strange behavior” in relation to the norm we have come to expect – topless women, men in bikini bottoms with rainbow hair, women dressed as men, men dressed as women. But, we did not notice those attributes as much as we noticed all those people smiling, laughing, shouting “hi” as we passed them on our bike, enjoying the sunny hot Columbus day.
And, isn’t that the most important thing that you can teach a five-year old? That life is meant to enjoy; that you don’t have to dress a certain way or have a lot of money or act your age (or sex) to have a good time. I never once felt out-of-place or concerned or embarrassed. To the contrary, I smiled a lot; I gave high-fives, I laughed. And Maria did, too. She did not flinch when she saw a girl walk down the street topless. She did not point and gawk at the man in his skin-tight rainbow attire and long golden hair. She just joined in the fun, eating her cupcake and taking in the sun.
I started to reconsider my decision last night as I lay in bed watching the news. Should a kid be “subjected” to such an “alternative” world at such a young age? My answer – why the hell not? Is seeing a topless woman going to make my daughter degenerate or make her run around naked from now on? Is witnessing two men hold hands as they walk down the street going to turn her into a wicked, warped girl? If anything, it is going to allow her to appreciate and empathize with all sorts of people – rich, poor, obnoxious, clueless, downtrodden, frantic, depressed, enthusiastic…. When she meets that girl in kindergarten who is different from the “normal, popular” girls, she will take her hand and head out to the playground with her.
On Sunday, we took a stroller ride to the donut shop and chowed down on our favorite morning food. I really do need to stop this habit but I figure once a week is not going to kill us. After the breakfast feast, we headed to a woods near our house tucked away in a cul-de-sac in the west side of our neighborhood. We were able to walk on the trail because it had not rained in a few days (the last time we arrived, it was like a swamp). We strolled back to the railroad tracks and picked wild flowers. We stood on the wood steps and bowed to Emperor Maria who commanded us to attack the Huns (which Mario immediately took her up on by jumping on his imaginary horse and slaying everyone around). We looked at spiders and cool rocks, and trees. I love getting them out in nature – it is such an elixir. We got home two hours later and had lunch and read books and watched a Little Bear. Jon agreed to take them up to bed for naps and I got to slip away to Stauf’s for my granola cranberry pancake, my paper, and quiet after a promise to the kids of ice cream later!