I now pronounce you man and wife. You may drink your juice box

Exactly how young are kids beginning to date these days?

Having given up cable television a number of years ago, I freely admit I’m probably behind the times when it comes to the youth of today. I’ve never regretted my decision — George Bush Jr had just been reelected and I simply couldn’t stand looking at his smug, simian visage for one moment longer. But it did mean that much of popular culture began to pass me by.

This is not necessarily a bad thing:

It’s not like I was totally out of touch. I knew Britney was Spears-heading the newest movement of Lolita singers, offering up equal portions of cleavage and Jesus as they humped their way to mega-stardom. And I’d seen just enough of Paris Hilton to invest heavily in the pharmaceutical industry (hey, those herpes ain’t gonna dry up on their own). But I don’t think I realized exactly how far preteen sexuality had ventured into mainstream parenting.

My first clue dropped in Pre-Schooler N’s first year of daycare. We’d been enrolled only a few weeks when I overheard a parent talking about one of the boys’ “harem” of girlfriends at said facility. This was done with a knowing wink and suggestive leer that quite literally made my stomach clench.

“Harem?” Seriously?

I mean, Jesus, these kids haven’t even made it out of diapers yet and we’re already matching them up with members of the opposite sex? Of course, the kids themselves go along with it, giggling away because they love the attention and the ability to entertain adults in a novel manner. But I’m mystified as to why we need to start the whole boyfriend/girlfriend bullshit with them while they’re still having naps.

And while we’re on the subject of naps — I could actually feel my eyeballs straining to exit their sockets when it was recently remarked by one parent that her daughter insisted on sharing a daycare nap mat with her “boyfriend.” Now, call me old-fashioned, but I think it should be mandatory that a couple be past the point of calling their privates “pee-pees” or “tink-tinks” before sleeping together.


Interestingly enough, my own son has largely been immune to these match-making efforts. The other parents seem a little more muted about boy/girl stuff around us faggier families. Perhaps they think we’ll be offended by the assumption that our son will be heterosexual or even that we have big gay plans for his future dating activities.

Both assumptions are nonsense, though. Odds are that Pre-Schooler N will follow his brethren in going ga-ga over all things boobie-related as puberty rears its hideous head. I personally don’t care if he dates a boy, a girl, a boy-girl, a girl-boy or anything in between, as long as he or she is polite, caring and possessed of a better-than-average credit rating (I’m absolutely open to bribery).

The irony here, of course, is that we gay men have for decades been living under the assumption of predatory behaviour when it comes to children. At even the faintest hint of homosexuality, suspicious parental eyes follow our every move as we help tie shoelaces, give piggy-back rides and hug their offspring.

From the age of about 15 onwards, I simply kept myself apart from children, having been inundated with statistically unfounded accusations from the Anita Bryants or Michelle Bachmanns of this world. They decreed that all gay men were pedophiles, and the world listened. Children must be protected from any hint of homosexuality, they cry, these wee innocents who may be irrecoverably stained by seeing John and Peter smooching at the mall. But hey, let’s start them good and early on the righteous path to procreation and suburban tract housing.

“Remember, kids, if you squeeze him more than once it’s a sin.”

Even now I am careful around other people’s children, carefully scanning for potential homo-hysteria before engaging with kids who couldn’t give a flying fuck who you sleep with as long as you hand them the right flavour of popsicle. It’s second nature to most of us gay guys, I think — not to mention self-protective and smart.
But how truly farcical it is to see society around me shoving their kids into romanticized friendships, assigning gender roles and sexuality and orientation in a macabre sort of dress rehearsal for the horrors to come in 10 or 12 years. I’m guessing it would all seem a little less cute to many parents if Little Tammy-Jo decided that their daughter was destined to be her Mrs. I mean, for Christ’s sake, let the little monsters just be kids while they can enjoy it. If you’re that desperate for storybook romances, stick to Harlequin, not Dick and Jane.

Hey Dad I got me two girlfriends now!

“Hey, Dad, I got me two girlfriends now!”

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