Why We Are Reading “And Tango Makes Three”

I am a book lover.  My hus­band is also an adamant read­er.  For our birth­days this year, we both got Kin­dles, and we love them.  We have tons of books.  I only recent­ly man­aged to get rid of my last (out of date) col­lege text book.  The kids also have a lot of books.  In addi­tion to the books we have at home, we fre­quent our local library.

Although, I have to admit to say that “we” fre­quent the library isn’t 100% accu­rate.  Jason fre­quents the library with the boys, and I usu­al­ly go by myself.  A few months ago, Jason decid­ed that as an oppor­tu­ni­ty to get some one on one time with Kael, he would take Kael to the library on Sun­day after­noons.  Some­how that has changed from a one on one time for the two of them to a time for Jason and the two old­er boys to do some­thing togeth­er.  They often spend well over an hour there pick­ing out books, and they come home with the book bag absolute­ly stuffed.  It’s not unusu­al for our fam­i­ly to have over 20 books checked out from the chil­dren’s area.

One of the rea­sons that Jason takes the boys and I don’t is that he picks bet­ter books than I do.  I was a teacher before Kael was born, and I’m stuck in a rut of pick­ing out my old favorites.  Click Clack Moo, Stel­lalu­na, Hen­ry and Mudge.  They are great books, but I have a hard time get­ting away from books that I know I’ve read and liked.  Jason does a great job of explor­ing sev­er­al dif­fer­ent areas of the chil­dren’s library and pick­ing out a mix of fic­tion and non­fic­tion on a vari­ety of top­ics.  He also talks with the boys about books they’ve liked in the past and might want again or top­ics they would like to read more about.  Occa­sion­al­ly I make a sug­ges­tion, but for the most par­ty I just enjoy what they bring home.

The last time they went to the library, I did make a sug­ges­tion.  I sug­gest­ed that if it was avail­able Jason check out And Tan­go Makes Three by Justin Richard­son and Peter Par­nell.  If you haven’t heard of it, this is a chil­dren’s pic­ture book about two male pen­guins who hatch an egg from anoth­er pair of pen­guins and raise the result­ing baby.  It talks about how they want­ed to be a fam­i­ly and did things that oth­er pen­guin fam­i­lies did.  It also tells how zookeep­ers gave the two male pen­guins an egg to care for.  The result was a baby pen­guin they name Tan­go.

Why?  Liv­ing in ND, we don’t get a wide vari­ety of cul­tur­al expe­ri­ences.  It occurred to me one day that per­haps there is some­thing sim­i­lar in the lack of expo­sure to oth­er races and lack of expo­sure to oth­er fam­i­ly sit­u­a­tions.  This was prob­a­bly brought on by the blog posts I read on Ask Mox­ie this sum­mer about the book Nur­tureShock.  Chap­ter 3 of Nur­tureShock (which I have not read but have on my to be read list) is called Why White Par­ents Don’t Talk About Race.  The gist of the chap­ter (which I am sum­ma­riz­ing based on this blog post) is that if we don’t teach our chil­dren about the dif­fer­ences among peo­ple they make their own assump­tions.  Also, putting them in a diverse envi­ron­ment (which I feel unable to do) is not enough.  This chap­ter is pri­mar­i­ly about race and dif­fer­ences that chil­dren are able to see clear­ly and eas­i­ly when look­ing at oth­ers, but what if this extends to oth­er areas?  It is not okay with me for my chil­dren to form their opin­ions of homo­sex­u­al­i­ty and what it means based only on what they see in pop­u­lar media or hear from those around them.

For many peo­ple this might be a no-brain­er.  Of course you would talk to your chil­dren about this.  For some peo­ple this might be some­what con­tro­ver­sial.  Not just talk­ing about homo­sex­u­al­i­ty but talk­ing about it in a fac­tu­al way, attempt­ing to nor­mal­ize it for our chil­dren, and address­ing it in a way that allows our chil­dren to explore their own thoughts on it and con­tin­ue the con­ver­sa­tion over time.

Both my hus­band and I are Chris­tians.  We are rais­ing our chil­dren in the Chris­t­ian church.  It’s obvi­ous­ly not a big sur­prise to any­one that there are dif­fer­ing opin­ions in the church on homo­sex­u­al­i­ty.  We want our chil­dren to know a few things very clear­ly about homo­sex­u­al­i­ty.  If it turns out that one (or more) of our chil­dren are gay, we will love them.  Not we will love them any­way.  We will love them, peri­od.  We also want them to know that peo­ple are peo­ple.  We are called as Chris­tians to love our neigh­bors as our­selves, and some of our neigh­bors may be gay.  We love them as our­selves.

I start­ed writ­ing this post sev­er­al weeks ago.  It got put on the back burn­er as life got busier with the new baby, but even though this next para­graph isn’t as cur­rent as it was then, I still think it is appro­pri­ate and applic­a­ble.

When I start­ed writ­ing this post, there was a lot being said in the media about the recent sui­cides of chil­dren (some gay and some per­ceived as being gay) and col­lege stu­dents.  This is actu­al­ly what was on my mind when I wrote my last post about shar­ing opin­ions that might be more con­tro­ver­sial.  The pri­ma­ry rea­son I want­ed to write this post was because I don’t ever want to be faced with a sit­u­a­tion like the fam­i­lies of those kids and feel like I stayed silent when I had a duty to be unsi­lent.