Jeremy called me from school on Friday afternoon, wanting to know if he could go to his friend’s house after school. He has one friend and they see each other outside of class maybe two or three times a year.
“Of course,” I replied. We’d need to have some pretty hard core plans made before I turned down a social opportunity for Jeremy. “Can I speak to your teacher for a minute hon? I’d like to talk to her about the Olympics.”
We said our goodbyes and he handed his cell phone to his teacher. As an aside, I’m finding school cell phone rules have a great deal of leniency when it comes to convenience.
His teacher immediately started to explain. She’s got two weeks of current events planned around the Olympics and, of course, they’ve discussed the human rights issues when it comes to gay people. But that’s not what their focus is, they’re focusing on the actual athletes and how they’re working hard for Canada. Surely I could understand that.
“I know the athletes have worked really hard but what’s happening with the LGBTQ community is horrific and Jeremy and I can’t ignore that. We’re doing a total boycott of the Winter Olympics.”
I’d closed my eyes while reciting the LGBTQ part, trying to remember all the letters. Last time, Jeremy “helpfully” informed me I’d forgotten the Q but he wasn’t here. Any more letters and I’m going to have to write it down on a piece of paper and carry it around with me. Thankfully the teacher couldn’t see me through the phone.
“He’ll need to have another current event to work on,” his teacher informed me then she sighed. “He could research the history of the Olympics but you won’t allow that.”
“We’re only boycotting this Olympics,” I reminded her. “Previous Olympics are fine. Or Jeremy could explain why he’s boycotting.”
I quietly fumed at the “but you won’t allow that” comment. I’m paraphrasing the conversation, that wasn’t the first time she’d said this.
“That sounds like a good idea,” she replied. “He can share his information with the class.”
I’d be tempted to suggest Jeremy give her a report on Occupy Paedophilia except for two things. One, I don’t think Jeremy or I could handle doing two weeks of research on the subject. And, two, he has to share this with his classmates, some of whom are very naive and sheltered. Still, between her un-Canadian comment to Jeremy and her jabs about what I won’t allow, as if Jeremy doesn’t have an opinion of his own, I decided to share a little of that information.
“I won’t let him bring up Occupy Paedophilia,” I assured her.
“What?” came her immediate baffled reply.
Bingo, I thought to myself. I went on to explain the group and describe some of the things they’ve done (with no repercussions), finishing with telling her those weren’t the worst things that happened. They weren’t even the worst things on the four minute video we’d seen. I also told her about how the police were reacting to LGBTQ citizens attempting to file reports on attacks. Then I told her Jeremy wouldn’t share anything that graphic.
“He can’t share videos like that in class,” she replied weakly.
“He won’t,” I assured her again. I grinned to myself. I’ve got enough friends on my Facebook, already sharing protest information, that I knew we could find all sorts of things he could talk about.
Jeremy called after school to see if he could sleep over at his friend’s house. Once again, that was fine by me.
“Jeremy? Your teacher said she’s discussing what’s happening with the LGBTQ community in Russia.”
“Good job Mom, you got the Q,” he so helpfully replied.
“What is your teacher telling the class about what happened?”
He sighed. “She’s telling the class that it isn’t that bad. That people are allowed to be gay and are allowed to say they’re gay, they’re just not allowed to protest.”
Which isn’t the case at all. “Did you say what’s happening?” I asked, although I already knew the answer.
“Yes,” he replied. “She said I was wrong.”
“One of my friends found a video that teaches you how to say a helpful phrase in Russian. For part of your current event assignment, do you want to teach your classmates how to ask where to buy a rainbow flag in Russian? I mean, how much more educational can you get? Teaching another language just in time for the Olympics.”
Jeremy snorted. “That sounds great.”
We said our goodbyes then I settled down to write. The phone rang a short while later. I picked it up before realizing it was a long distance ring. I reminded myself that telemarketers are easy to get off the phone. It was Jeremy’s Dad.
I explained Jeremy wasn’t home, that he was at a sleepover.
“He’s having a sleepover with a boy, right?” his Dad asked.
“Good,” his Dad said, his voice heavy with relief.
I just shook my head. First of all, while Jeremy’s had female friends before, he’s never had sleepovers with any of them. It’s just something that’s never come up. Second of all… obviously Jeremy’s Dad doesn’t know him very well.
I relayed his Dad’s comments to Jeremy when he got home yesterday afternoon.
“Yeah, we were busy having gay sex,” he retorted with a snort.
I laughed. “I’m pretty sure your friend’s straight,” I replied.
My voice trailed off as I tried to figure out how to explain my bewilderment that his Dad would act like I’ve been allowing Jeremy to sleep over with all sorts of girls over the years. Meanwhile, his Dad had been all set to buy Jeremy condoms the first week he started dating his last girlfriend because he was going to need them.
Jeremy heard the silence and, unfortunately, jumped to the wrong conclusion.
“I’m straight too Mom,” he yelled. “I was wrong when I told you I liked boys. It was a mistake. I don’t know why I’m telling you this because you never listen to me.”
He turned and stormed down the hallway.
“I do listen to you,” I said quietly. I hadn’t expected him to hear me but he did and came back.
“Then why wouldn’t you believe me when I told you I’m straight,” he replied. He was still angry but thankfully a lot more quiet.
“I’m trying to believe you,” I assured him. “It’s just hard when you say things that conflict each other. You told me you’re bisexual.”
“I was wrong,” he interrupted.
“Okay, but what about when you were upset about the gay bar closing because you wanted to go there when you got older.”
“You told me they have a good drink there,” he protested while I stared at him in complete surprise.
“Umm… I’ve never been there, I don’t go to any bars, and I have no idea what drinks they served.” I thought for a moment. “The only thing I mentioned was they advertised rainbow pancakes.”
“That’s it,” he replied. “That’s why I wanted to go, for their pancakes.”
Because that’s why most teenage boys plan on going to a gay bar in three more years, for the pancakes. A treat I make regularly and one he’d already forgotten. I figured pointing that out would be akin to tossing gasoline soaked rags onto a bonfire.
“Jeremy, why did you ask your teacher to discuss “gay stuff” during sex education?” I asked instead, which probably wasn’t the best question to ask. It was similar to rubbernecking at a train wreck. I kind of wanted to hear the answer but I mostly figured it would be bad and didn’t want to know.
“I thought maybe one or two of the kids might be gay and would be too shy or scared to speak up for themselves so I spoke up for them.”
Okay, that was nice.
To be honest, I’d been expecting Jeremy to say he was straight this week. I’d noticed he was a lot more quiet last Sunday. His voice more subdued, his hands still. He talked about how great something was and I smiled and said, “so it was fabulous”. He didn’t smile back. He shook his head instead and told me it was “awesome”. He’s described everything as fabulous for months now. When he’s really excited, or he’s describing himself, the word breaks into three distinct parts. A quiet “awesome” was not what I expected.
“Are you still wanting to go to the group on Tuesday?” I asked.
He looked at me in surprise. “Of course,” he blurted. That was a relief.