You’re Not Broken

You’re Not Broken

I’ve been vocal about my Disney disdain for years.

Yeah, I like Toy Story (ahem, Pixar) and Tinkerbell (sasspot) and Elsa (she’s a freaking ice queen, hello). I balked when Disney bought the Star Wars franchise, and I maintain that was the right reaction, but I can’t turn my back on Star Wars.

But otherwise? Nope.

Then the freaking Disney Channel had to come out with the their first story of a tween coming out as gay. While the boys don’t watch Andi Mack currently, opting to annoy me with episodes of Jessie via On Demand, I feel like maybe we should give it a shot.

I’ve been trying to give the new season of Will & Grace a shot. I definitely wasn’t sold after the first episode. I texted my husband, working that night, “It feels like they’re trying too hard.” I missed the second episode when it aired and caught it via repeat while the boys were in the room. At almost 10 and 12, they’re still in bed by 9 on school nights as they catch the bus before seven o’clock in the morning. They laughed but mostly played their video games.

I didn’t think anything of it.

One Thursday, they got to stay up late as they didn’t have school on Friday. They “watched” the episode entitled “Grandpa Jack.” In this episode, Jack meets his estranged son’s son. The child in question is sent to a conversion camp to make him straight. It was full of “funny” moments, but also Really Big Moments. Like the one in which Jack says to his grandson, “This place can’t fix you, because you aren’t broken.”

Because you aren’t broken.

Our children need to hear this message.

YOU’RE NOT BROKEN.

We need to tell them this over and over and over. They need to see it in television and movie characters. They need to read diverse books to discover all kinds of different ways in which they are absolutely not broken.

Our children need people in their lives who believe in them and love them, no matter what. On bad days. On good days. Ugly days. Fat days. Hurting days. Confused days. Questioning days. Realization days. All the days in between.

Of course, as tweens, they don’t necessarily believe their parents when we tell them it gets better, when we tell them they matter. That’s why representation of diversity, of differences, of struggle, of overcoming in their shows and books matters so much.

Gen X started the trend when Rickie got thrown out of his home on Christmas Eve in 1994 in My So-Called Life. It would be another three years before Ellen got her kiss on prime time television, not cable. Will & Grace premiered in 1998. We were all older than our tweens now when we saw representation hit the airwaves, though I don’t remember reading a book in the 90s with a gay character—or hell, many characters of color. We’re still working on it, but we have hope for our children.

Our tweens are witnessing something good. They’re being taught an important lesson that many of my generational counterparts are still struggling to believe.

You’re. Not. Broken.

You’re Not Broken

What’s In A Name

What’s In A Name?

My parents got a new dog. He doesn’t have a name yet. I spoke with them earlier today and they told me a few of their ideas, one in particular. I ran it by my husband.

“I don’t like it. It’s not him.”
“What? I love it.”
“I don’t.”
“How did we name anything?”
“Stickers on cars.”
“Well, and one dog came with a name in place.”

We named our youngest son on the way home from an ultrasound. We wanted him to have a J-middle name, but felt clueless about what his name-name should be. The car in front of us at the light before the courthouse had a sticker with a football and a name.

I read it aloud, followed by our last name. We looked at each other and shrugged.

We owned baby name books. We read them over incessantly with both boys. Ridiculous names. Strong names. Presidential names, whatever that means, Donnie. Irish names. Gaelic names. Names names names. Then we saw that name on the back of a car, and everything felt right.

I later worked with the mother of the child whose name was on the back of that vehicle. She’s a smart lady.

Someday, probably when he is in the process of choosing baby names—or even dog names—our youngest son will question our procedure. But when he arrived and we looked at him, all fresh and new and so different from our older son, he just seemed like him. Now, at almost 10, he is simply himself. He resembles his name. He his who he is.

The adoption agency told me not to give my daughter a name.

“It will cause you to think of her as yours. And she’s not.”

Prior to falling ill at 18 weeks, I toyed with some names. Classic names. Names I had written with young boyfriend’s last names to see what they looked like, as I did with my own. But they told me it wasn’t my job, to name her. So I didn’t. I still can’t tell you what I would have chosen, though some birth mothers can. There are two that sit deep in my soul; maybe they would have combined to her fist and middle names. We’ll never know.

When we named our first dog, we sat in the darkening night and ran through name after name, the old baby book on my lap and a smartphone I hand. I hate that it feels like I put more thought into my dog’s name than my daughter’s name. But no one told me, “You don’t have a right to name your dog.”

Just my daughter.

This is one of those adoption issues I can logically recognize; the adoption industry used my lack of knowledge against me. They knew that mothers who names their babies were more likely to make the—lawful—decision to parent. It’s the same reason why they told me not to breastfeed. But still, I hate that I didn’t see it for what it was. I was so naive, so green, I couldn’t see what they were doing.

Someday, if my daughter ever asks, I will share the two names that sit with me. She might hate them, and knowing her as I do, I’m not sure they fit her. But I will tell her. If she asks. If she lets me back in. If.

I named the baby we lost to miscarriage, Rose. After my great-grandmother, after the roses in my flower garden. We don’t know if she was a girl, but the name fit. She fit, so briefly, in our lives.

I hate my given name. It was the number one name the year I was born and a handful of years on either side. Our youngest, our sticker car baby, has a name in the top ten of his birth year and some surrounding years. Maybe he’ll hate it. Maybe he won’t care. Our older son prefers the shortened version of his name, even though I prefer his given name.

What’s In A Name?

I don’t know what my parents will name their dog. I’ll love him no matter his name, just like I love my children and all of their names. But more so. Because they’re my children.