Bruce Jenner. I must admit, he was never a topic I thought I would be discussing with my children. We don’t let our 7 and 8 year olds watch the news yet, but on the weekends they are slightly addicted to watching Sport Center on ESPN. Before Bruce Jenner was a member of the Keeping Up with the Kardashians television personalities (something else my children know nothing about), he was one of the greatest athletes in the world winning the gold medal in the decathlon in the 1976 Summer Olympics, which is why after his 20/20 interview on ABC announcing his transgender identity, ESPN chose to cover the story as well. I commend ESPN for remembering that Bruce Jenner was indeed a great athlete and reporting on the story. I was, however, unprepared for the onslaught of questions that I would be bombarded with upon watching Sport Center that fateful morning in April. Usually the boys watch Sports Center alone while I make breakfast, but thankfully this was a morning I had sat down to watch with the boys. At the very least, I saw and heard all the same information they saw and heard which helped me formulate my answers and draw directly from the interview language.
I have no idea if I answered any of my boys’ questions correctly. They still are randomly asking questions about “that guy who is a woman and won a medal.” I’m not sure if that’s a good sign or a bad sign regarding my answers. This was one of those parenting moments that just felt big. It felt monumentally important to “get it right”. The moment in our house has passed, only time will tell if I enlightened and educated my children or not.
My point to this post is not to solicit advice on how to explain transgender to my children, although if you have a kickass explanation feel free to share, it is this, parenting is hard and we can never predict when the next hard moment will be or what it will be about. I also think parenting is getting harder, as our world becomes smaller, our minds become more open, and we as a society continue on an information overload highway, the topics our children encounter and therefore question us on will be broader and more diverse. I’m not saying parenting was ever easy, just that when I was 7 years old I was not asking my mother what transgender meant.
Are you like me, do you ever encounter these “big” parenting moments, moments you realize are important in the instant, and think, “crap, this is one of those moments I need to get right” before you flounder through the next few minutes in parenting and afterwards you hope you did okay?
To Bruce Jenner, and everyone identifying as transgender, I hope I did alright in my explanations to my littles.