Mar 302015
 

“The most important thing about a family is that all the people in it love each other.” – Heather Has Two Mommies, by Lesléa Newman

“Why is this controversial?” – Nathan, after reading Heather Has Two Mommies

Heather Has Two Mommies was first published in 1989, after a lesbian couple who had just adopted a daughter lamented to its author Lesléa Newman that there was no children’s book to help explain their family to her. It was recently republished in a new edition, with full color artwork and a few streamlining tweaks.

When it was new, Heather Has Two Mommies became one of the most frequently challenged books in the United States. It’s getting some attention now, though it doesn’t seem it’s being so widely condemned this time.

I took a look.

The conversation-starter is a common sort of children’s book. It’s a catalyst for talking about a topic that is complex and/or potentially awkward with a young person. I remember my mother reading one with us that warned against going with strangers. It was complete with a drawing depicting the bad guy with a child tied up while he spanked another one.

Heather Has Two Mommies isn’t about anything nearly so grave, of course. However, its topic is something that might confuse a young one, particularly if his/her parents are the only same-sex couple s/he knows. The book includes an introduction to Heather’s mommies, as well as a look at the kinds of things they all like to do together. It concludes with Heather’s first day of school, at which all of the children draw their families.

trouble

The narrative is well-paced and as expected for a book intended for a kindergartener or first-grader to read with his/her parents. The new artwork is pleasant, a few clicks north of rudimentary and quite colorful.

I’m pleased to see a much more muted negative response to this book more than 25 years later, while remaining a bit disappointed at what still exists. To my readers who remain opposed, to some degree, to the idea of same-sex parents, I offer two practical questions of child welfare:

  • Don’t you prefer the odds of a child who is wanted and loved by a gay couple to one who is, say, kicking around the foster care system? Or maybe even one with a struggling single parent, depending on circumstances?
  • Gay couple parenthood is a thing, whether you think it should be a thing or not. It’s happening. That being the case, don’t you prefer the odds of a child whose parents are not continually deflecting hostility on some level or another?

As with gay marriage, we have with gay couple parenthood a situation in which the principals are agitating to commit. That’s good news, not bad news.

Heather Has Two Mommies seems an effective introduction for families who’d like help starting the conversation.

8/10

 Posted by at 10:04 pm
Mar 222015
 

I have a speech impediment. I’ve been a stutterer for at least 35 years. (I say it that way because I don’t remember exactly when it started. However, the earliest memory I have of it is in the fourth grade.)

You may have known me for quite a long time and not known about it. Most of the time—really, nearly always—I have no problem with it. A speech pathologist in Anniston named Elizabeth Yarbrough helped me tremendously. (A casual Binging indicates she’s still around and practicing. Perhaps I’ll look her up. Send a thank-you note, anyway.)

Sometimes my stutter recurs when I’m tired. More reliably, it recurs when I have to say something exactly.

For example, sometimes I stutter saying “Hello?” when I answer the telephone, because you pretty much have to say that. Another time I’ve had a bit of trouble in the past is reading in church, which I’m occasionally asked to do. I read from a paper in my hand, but the congregation reads along on the screen behind me. So my opportunities for improvisation are rather limited.

wickedservant

Parable of the Wicked Servant, ca. 1620, by Domenico Fetti (1588-1623)

I read this morning from Matthew 18—specifically, the parable of the unforgiving servant. I stuttered only once. It was quite brief—well under one second—and I’m certain no one noticed but me.

A few minutes later I went out to refill my coffee and one of the guitar players in the praise band asked if he could talk to me. He said I had blessed him and his son and I never realized it.

When I asked him how, he told me he and his son had been present several years ago when I’d had a lot more trouble reading in church. (When it happens, there’s nothing to do but work through it as best I can. Stressing about it makes it much worse.) I’m sure I smiled through it, offered a brief apology, and continued.

He told me his son has trouble with his speech sometimes, and that I had been really encouraging to him just getting up and speaking like that, knowing what might happen.

Now I’d still rather not have the problem at all. Once in a great while it really bothers me. Last year I was promoting this event in a radio interview and stuttered fairly severely, to the point that the DJ had to cover for me. It was all really quick and a much bigger deal in my head than it was in actuality. Still, you know?

But I felt wonderful this morning learning that I’d helped a young man get a little further in making his peace with such a torment. My friend, you certainly blessed me right back telling me about it. Thank you.

 Posted by at 3:30 pm
Mar 102015
 

We’re not quite halfway because of the Sundays therein, but close enough. This year I gave up red meat and alcohol, and I haven’t had any problem. In fact, it’s been so easy that if I continue on a consumption/denial path for next year, I need to go full vegan (as I would have this […]

 Posted by at 9:30 pm

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