Two summers ago, Gabriel asked innocently, "Mommy, what are the gays?"
I sat him down on our porch and had a compassionate conversation about what it meant to be a heterosexual versus a homosexual. Most boys have crushes on girls, but some boys have crushes on boys (and vice versa.) They don't choose for this to happen. That's just the way God made them. He understood this because he knows God makes us all of us special. Being gay doesn't define a person, so the label of "the gays" (as he heard on television) could hurt someone's feelings. I assured him I would love him the same if he was gay, and he should support any friends of his that he might later discover are gay.
He walked away more grown up and tolerant, and it made me happy.
Last summer, Gabriel asked, "Mommy, how do babies really get made?"
I sat him down in our kitchen and had an informative conversation about sex and reproduction. We covered it all in great detail. He understood when I told him that God made men and women fit together like puzzle pieces. We talked about the icky words that made him squirm. Erection. Penis. Vagina. Sperm.
"Why would anyone want to do that Mommy?!" he asked, appalled.
"Well, buddy, because when you love someone, and you treat them with respect, and you're careful with their feelings: Sex feels good. It feels like love. The kind that makes your heart so happy that you can't help but smile."
I warned him sex could hurt people, too. I compared it to driving a car. When we treat a car with respect and drive safely, we arrive to our destination excited for the fun to begin. But if we drive recklessly and don't have respect for the car, accidents happen, people can be hurt, and lives can change forever.
He walked away more grown up and informed, and it made me happy.
Recently, Gabriel asked, "Mommy, is Santa Claus real?"
I snuggled him in close to me like I did when he was a baby. I told him that was a decision he had to make on his own. It was his choice whether or not to believe in Santa. I admitted truthfully that I still believe in the magic of Santa. The anticipation of Santa creates joy and festiveness for kids and grown-ups alike. The spirit of Santa encourages people to be kinder and more generous. The tradition of Santa makes memories that will last a lifetime. All of which are very real and very important.
"But does Santa put the presents under the tree or do you and Daddy?" he asked, still not satisfied.
"Well, honey, that answer depends on whether or not you choose to believe in Santa," I answered.
He sat quietly. He didn't push the issue. He hugged me and went off to play.
He walked away more grown up and confused, and it made me sad.