Children and Chick-fil-A
In one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite musicals, Stephen Sondheim wrote lyrics that I’ve frequently thought of since becoming a mother.
The song “Children Will Listen” from “Into the Woods” cautions, “Careful the things you say / children will listen/ careful the things you do / children will see and learn.”
Before my first ultrasound, I knew I wanted to raise my first-born child to love and accept all human beings, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation. Teaching my child those things, I thought, could make the world a better place.
“What do you leave to your child when you’re dead / only whatever you put in its head / things that your mother and father had said / which were left to them too”
My generation is far more accepting than my parents’ generation, and I’ve held high hopes for my posterity.
Cienna, my 8-year-old daughter and oldest child, has demonstrated love and positive displays of humanity since she was a toddler. If there was a child who didn’t look like the faces she was used to, she naturally gravitated toward who often became a new friend. She was curious, open and ready to love. Likewise, if she saw a child playing alone, she never allowed that to be the case for long.
Her palette of friends includes Caucasians, Indians, African-Americans, Asians and Hispanics, and they all have varying backgrounds and family dynamics.
My husband and I have never had to sit down and have a conversation with her about how some families look a little different, have step-parents, or have two mommies or two daddies. In fact, by acting like those situations didn’t require a special conversation, our family of five has demonstrated love and acceptance.
It warmed my heart the first time Cienna met a girl in her ballet class who had two mommies. Her friend introduced her parents to my daughter as, “This is my mom, and this is my mom,” she said, pointing to the two women. Cienna smiled and waved, and she and her friend rushed back to the ballet barre.
She was truly unfazed by something that would’ve required whispers when I was a child. And that felt like true progress. That other parents and children in the ballet school reacted similarly also felt like progress.
Then Dan Cathy happened.
The CEO of Chick-fil-A recently made comments opposing gay marriage, and hordes of customers showed up Wednesday during the chicken chain’s appreciation day to show support for Cathy’s definition of family and marriage, which he said should be shared between a man and woman.
Supporting same-sex marriage, he said, invites “God’s judgment on our nation.”
So yesterday when the kids and I drove past a crowded Chick-fil-A in Shrewsbury, Cienna asked me why lines weaved out of the store.
“Is there a birthday party?” she said.
And I took the opportunity to tell her the truth.
“Remember how (your friend) had two mommies? There are some people who don’t think that’s a good idea,” I said.
“Why?” she said.
“They think it’s wrong. They think a family should be about a mommy and a daddy,” I said.
“But some kids have only one mommy or one daddy like (my friend who lost her daddy to cancer),” she said. “I think that’s sad. Why are two mommies bad?”
“They’re not. But some people believe it’s wrong or weird for two women or two men to be married. They think only a woman and a man should be married,” I said.
“I think it’s weird for people to all go to Chick-fil-A and stand in a long line like they’re waiting for a roller coaster or something. And why isn’t anyone using the drive-through?” she said.
I didn’t have an answer for the latter. Perhaps it offers more support to anti-gay organizations to wait in lines that stretch into the parking lot instead of going through the drive-through? Who knows. None of it makes sense to me.
And I’m thrilled it doesn’t make sense to Cienna.
Because, as I explained to her, it doesn’t matter if there are two mommies or two daddies in a family.
A family isn’t about sexual orientation. It’s about love.