Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Of Samhain, children, and questions

L'Ailee's best friend showed us his "Larry Craig" costume last night. He needed to ensure that we'd see it, 'cause he was so proud of his handiwork. L'Ailee doesn't do crowds and I don't do the secular Halloween celebration, so we weren't going to the party he's wearing it to tonight. It's a large cardboard box with a cut-out and graffitied door, a pair of suit pants, and a pair of wingtips. It's cut high enough to show off his "wide stance" or put his hand under. His boyfriend's got a long wig, sparkly black underbritches, and a new CD so he can be Britney Spears. We don't love these boys for their tastefulness!

No costumes for me, thanks. I left for Samhain in Orlando Friday night and came back Sunday afternoon. L'Ailee was good enough to TiVo the race, but I think it's just as well that I didn't see it live. The worst part is I can't even complain too much about Jimmie Johnson winning, because he donated all his prize money to victims of the fire in his native California! If I were feeling fair, I would say that's wonderful of him and he sort of deserves the championship again based on performance, but I don't wanna be fair. I just hope my man Tony Stewart gets it again in 2008, and wins another race before all is said and done this season. Only three more...

There are so many groups in NYC, but me and Yemaya still click with our old coven in Orlando better than any other. I guess part of it was that the two of us, and the other four people we started it with, were all friends in our mundane lives before we ever began it. We shared a similar mission to effectively combine Vodoun with European Witchcraft and to do Paganism in a way that made sense in modern times and in our subtropical state. Even the new people who have been brought in since clicked really well. It's weird how in some ways, it's like neither of us ever left, and how in others, things are really different. Of course, the best part was catching up with old friends, and having oh so much to discuss!

There are children among us now, and spouses. Yemaya's bringing her wife and daughter next year. (Like me, she's bi; her daughter is a souvenir of a former relationship with a man.) Most people there know my wife, but L'Ailee's uncomfortable celebrating Samhain with us because she doesn't believe in any Gods. Solstices and Equinoxes are easier for her because they celebrate phases of the Earth that we all share in. I totally respect that. Not all spouses came anyway, and they abstained for similar reasons to L'Ailee's. But this time, I really noticed how the children added such an interesting energy at the beginning of the ritual. I felt sort of like I was in a fantasy novel when I explained that the cupcakes with departed ancestors' names on them are for the ancestor feast and the kids need to stick to the ones decorated only with pictures. On a Sabbat (or the weekend of a Sabbat) that is about endings, these little ones at the beginnings of their lives unintentionally provided such a powerful counterpoint.

When all was said and done and they were long past asleep, the little ones were of course a frequent topic of conversation. One of my former covenmates shared how her husband's attempt to answer their four-year-old daughter's sensitive question backfired. It's so hilarious, I have to pass it on here!

They were watching baseball, and a commercial for Cialis came on, and the daughter asked, "What's ED?" The parents just looked at each other for a long while. Finally, the father remembered that his father-in-law's a hypochondriac who has frequently bored the child with descriptions of his various infirmities and ailments. "Um, it's a little thing that old men like your grandpa have wrong with them sometimes," said the father. The Witch telling this story hit him with a pillow, but was pleased that the questions ended after that.

The entire family loves baseball, and so weeks later they were watching a game with Grandpa. Another Cialis commercial came on. The four-year-old, being compassionate, said, "I'm sorry you have ED." Grandpa spluttered and asked why she would say that. "Daddy told me," she said. The father had to get the grandfather out of the room to explain why!

Though I am not, never have been, and never will be a parent, I am becoming amazed at how troubled some parents are by the prospect that they might have to answer certain questions. We have a war on, we have fires in California (still!), and we have a drought in the Southeast (still, still!). So there are always really hard questions in life, and children are touched by these issues. I totally understand that. But a theme that's come up around me lately is "How do I explain this to my kid when they ask...?"

Usually it's in a very accusatory manner about something the parent his or herself doesn't like. For instance, L'Ailee recently had a mother of one of her middle-school-aged gymnastics students demand, "What if my daughter asks me, 'Why is my gymnastics coach bald?'" (To his credit, her supervisor said she'd be asking the wrong person.) At the airport on Friday, a mother demanded that we stop holding hands and kissing, because "How do I explain that to my kids?" The kids were much more interested in the vending machines than us. Like my mother's Michigan relatives, I replied, "Mind your own onions." (Besides, when we were still living in separate cities, L'Ailee and I would sometimes end up putting on absolute productions at the airport without realizing it. She got off lucky!) A new neighbor of my former coven's elders got upset when she found out they were Witches who were going to have lots of other Witches over to their house. "How do I explain that to my kids?" was in her rant. She wasn't interested in a Witchcraft 101 website URL, and Elder Vivian is pretty sure they won't be trick-or-treating at her house on Wednesday. Quite a few columnists that purported to offer a principled opposition to ENDA expressed their fears by wondering why children should have to ask why a teacher who looks like a man is wearing a dress, because they can't simply say, "Not all women look the same, dear."

It's so damned annoying. Maybe I don't get it, not being a parent. I can understand why, for instance, the "ED" question was awkward. But from where I sit, in many cases, it looks to me like they simply don't want to have to encounter difference themselves or think about their feelings, so they hide behind their kids. They figure they can appeal to the near-universal human love for children by using their children to shame those who are different. I really wish they'd say honestly that *they* don't like it, at least. Not that it would stop me, or L'Ailee, or Vivian from being ourselves out where others can see us, but we could respect their sincerity. I do think that if we inspire the hardest questions those kids ask, those kids live easy lives and their parents should be most grateful for that. I hope we inspire the hardest questions those kids ever ask. It's not like we're even going to influence them that much. We didn't ever encounter open Witches or LGBTs when we were children, after all, and look how we grew up.

Happy Samhain, Halloween, and/or Wednesday to everyone this week!

Tricks and treats:

The San Diego Zoo's animals are almost all okay. (They did lose two.) The departure of panda boy Mei Sheng to China and the naming of their cute little chubbette cub, who looks like a cross between a teddy bear and a soccer ball, have been delayed. But they did manage to get in a weekly baby exam, and she's doing great! Most of the animals are probably doing better than their keepers at this point.

John Rich is half of Big and Rich (one of my very favorite groups), the mastermind of the MuzikMafia (which includes other country and countryish artists I like), and one of Nashville's most prolific songwriters. He's also a homophobic bigot who compared SSM to incest. I know most country artists are conservative; however, I have not been this disappointed in a musician since I saw the picture of Sinead O'Connor allegedly smoking while pregnant. And I've got a song he co-wrote, Cowboy Troy's "Hick Chick," as my primary ringtone!

There's nothing like a Democrat for grabbing a defeat out of the jaws of victory, is there? The Democratic Party is trying to punish Florida, like the idiots they are.

Haunted house movies are really about...gentrification.

I'm not the only one who thinks ESPN's handling of NASCAR sucks! Like all rabid Tony Stewart fans, I also don't like how they handle *him*.

Oh, and The Onion does atlases now.


Peterson Toscano said...

I wish you had a photo of that "Larry Craig" costume. I hear it is this year's campy choice of informed queers.

Over at my blog I write about Halloween and Christine's most infamous costume?

Lynnia said...

For the record, I'm a parent, and I don't get it either. I don't know what's so hard about *gasp* explaining things to your kids. Mind you, so far I mostly have to explain that "that's a blue block" and "that's the kitty, pet her gently" to my son, but I'm certainly not under any impression that explanations will stop there.

I suppose that if *I* did not understand something, I'd have to seek out more information in order to explain it to my children, or I'd have to tell them that I didn't know--but expecting others to modify their behavior just so I don't have to explain it to my kids? Uh, that's just not on.

(btw, this is krisw from livejournal.)

cats said...

well, the princess kitty is now 8 and exposed to all sorts of new things. when i get a question about sex i try to tell her as much as i can with out going into great detail or i tel her it's a grown-up thing and she will have to wait for an explanation.

she's pretty sensitive to other people who don't understand differences because her brother's autistic and that is sometimes obvious when we are out in public. when we see different people out in public i just remind her that everyone is different and is special or has special needs and she gets that- thank God.

Carie said...

I have always answered my daughters questions honestly and openly...she can come up with the wierdest questions, but I always answer them honestly and openly...when there are big things going on in the world she will ask questions like why...thats the hardest question cause sometimes I muself don't know we research it togather lol...yeah I know I am a dork...I just always wanted her to know she could come to me, I never fret over how to explain something, I just do...

on a side note I saw this article on kissing red pandas and knew you would like it as did I its so cute...

BostonPobble said...

Blessed be, sister! We had what I called a "stealth ritual" here with the little ones who are just too young at 2 and 5 to sit still or get into ANY kind of full ritual. Instead, we talked about all animals in general and Lionel and Daisy specifically, we told them stories about their grandparents, we talked about what we wanted to do this next year...and it was easily one of my all time favorite Samhains. You're right ~ kids make it different in a delightful kind of way.

As for explaining things to kids, BioSis is better at that with my niece and nephews than any mom I have ever encountered. She just...explains it. It's very cool.

alan said...

Explaining love is a so much easier than explaining some of the other things that go on on this planet!

I know you're probably tired of my saying it, but thank you for being you!


Gledwood said...

I used to be verging towards "neo"paganism... I've reverted more back to "boring" old Christianity tho... (what am I saying? It's not like I even go to Church haha!) Well whatever...

Hey if you're after something magical my French friend Mousie does a marvellous blog

it was the very first blog I found online... and in that year probably STILL the best

OK take care my friend

great blog u got here BTW!!


"Vol 2"...