Thursday, June 4, 2009

A Complicated Conversation in the Car

This morning, I was driving Hilary, Declan, Ronan, Aaron and Gretchen to the pre-school/kindergarten they attend, when Hilary asked, "Can I marry Ronan?"

Ronan, really? I thought. Because of all the cousins, Hilary and Ronan have historically fought the most, although their relationship seems to have improved as both have gotten a little older and better able to articulate their frustration. Plus, he is half her age.

But I was afraid that probing her particular choice of cousin/spouse would take us too far off point, so I cut right to the chase: "No. You can't marry your cousins, or your brothers."

"Why not?" Hilary wanted to know.

I thought for a minute as I drove. How could I explain, in words a six-year-old would understand, about genetic diversity, and the increased risk of birth defects in restricted gene pools?

I gave up. "Because you can't marry relatives," I said firmly, hoping that if I spoke confidently enough she would accept my answer as the explanation it really wasn't instead of the re-phrasing that it was.

"Gretchen marry me?" Aaron asked, at this point.

"No, honey," I said again. "You can't marry your sister."

"Gretchen hug me?" Aaron asked.

"Sure, Gretchen can hug you."

"I dance with Gretchen," Declan piped up.

"You can hug Gretchen, and you can dance with her, you can play with her, but no one in this car is going to marry her."

"I going to marry my brother," Ronan said.

"You can't," I informed him.

"Boys can't marry boys," Declan explained.

This quieted the kids for the time being, and I wondered if I had missed a teaching moment, a chance to share my hope that, by the time they're grown, people will be able to marry whomever they want, without restriction, without stigma.

Except their cousins. And brothers. And sisters. But I'm glad they love each other enough to want to.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ha ha, brilliant! I'm delighted to see my nephews and their cousins get along so well!

Aunty Audrey