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Mommy Knows Worst: The Birds, The Weeds And...Are There Such Things As Drag Kings?

by Tiffany Greysen

Since I was a kid, things have changed a lot between communication, dress codes, sex and how we educate our kids about sensitive subjects. For me, it’s been 20*-plus years since I had to rely on television, friends and my parents for information.

I remember as a kid, at random intervals, bits of education would come out of my parents’ mouths at the dinner table (really, it was everyone sitting in chairs around the television). Our night would be fairly peaceful and my stepfather would make some odd proclamation, as if he were a god. One particular night, my stepfather rattled off some ridiculous, age-inappropriate statement about sex and I sat there wondering what the fuck it meant. Why was he telling me about erections? This is not a stepfather’s job. Dear Mom, please step the fuck up. To be honest, as little as sex was discussed, bathroom things were discussed even less. I didn’t know what diarrhea meant until I was 17. Why did I learn about periods from a classroom with 17 other girls in the fifth grade? Today, I’m so thankful for the internet, and if my daughter has a question, she asks me (or we Google it).

I recall an evening when my stepfather made a statement; something like, "A drag queen is a man who dresses in women’s clothing." Because I wasn’t a fan of his, I often wouldn’t react or ask questions, so I just sat there and pondered what this meant on my own. I sat working this out in my head; thinking, if a man wears women’s clothes, he’s a drag queen, does this mean that if a woman wears men’s clothes, he’s a drag king? My ten-year-old self decided that, yes, a drag king is definitely a woman who dresses in men’s clothing. Fast forward 20*-plus years...I’m in Build-A-Bear Workshop with my eight-year-old daughter, discussing her new bear, who she decided is a boy bear. I ask her what clothes he should wear. I could see her thinking about it and she was contemplating between a purple sundress with yellow daisies and overalls. She decided that he would prefer the purple sundress with yellow daises. I remember wanting to talk to her about gender that day, but I felt like it would ruin this perfect moment. Her perfect mind and her just being her—open to everyone/everybear just as they are—not some constructed thing forced upon them. I just felt so happy that this wasn’t a thing and talking about it might make it a thing and ruin this perfect moment.

I was also once told that marijuana was a gateway drug and that would lead to cocaine, heroin and prostitution. What I find funny is that my stepfather drank a lot and was a horrifically mean drunk. The saddest part about this, is that I’d seen him smoke pot too and he was pretty cool and chill when he did that. It was about this time when I realized that my parents were idiots and I was going to have to figure out all this shit on my own. Earlier this summer, I was driving on the backroads with my daughter and she announced, "It smells like marijuana." I laughed and told her no, it was actually a skunk and it must have been hit by a car, which lead to a long conversation about how animals die and what happens after you die. Then, we talked about religion and how she gets to pick what she believes in or doesn’t believe in.

I also spent half of my childhood being grounded for my grades and, at the end of last year, I told my daughter that grades don’t really matter. And, as long as she’s making an honest effort to understand the lessons, that she won’t get in trouble.

Today, we have open access to the internet. 20*-plus years ago, I didn’t have access to the internet, which means I learned about most of the important things by watching TV, via a satellite dish the size of a VW Bug or by a set of encyclopedias, which happened to be missing both the P and the W volumes.

I know I make mistakes. I think I’m just trying to make less mistakes than my parents did raising me and I just hope my daughter doesn’t think that a drag king is a real thing.