Alison was maybe 2-years-old when she was running in socks on my hardwood living room floor and her feet slipped out from under her. “Jesus Christ!” she exclaimed, with perfect inflection.
That was the last day I used that particular oath in her presence, and I haven’t heard it pass her lips sense. It was a startling reminder that she really does listen even when we think she doesn’t.
While we’re far from perfect people or parents, it’s safe to say that both Jeff have at least tried to improve our behavior. Most of it is to set a good example. Some of it is to avoid future embarrassment of being outed by the offspring.
Fast-forward to today. We took Alison with us to the Indy Gay Pride event. We had a purpose, mostly to hook up with my Bunconian Jeph Slaughter and his significant other, Norm. Jeph was curious about why I was planning to bring Alison along, and I’m sure he wasn’t alone.
But we have many dear gay friends and we support gay rights. There’s not much (to many of my friends and family’s chagrin) that we shield Ali from. It’s important to us that she shares our belief in the importance of being not just tolerant, but supportive, of gay rights; that we accept people for who they are; and that no one’s value system is more “right” than another’s. Except racists and haters – they’re just flat wrong. Heck: we’re even starting to think that some Republicans aren’t all bad.
So we’re walking around and seeing all kinds of outrageous outfits and hair styles. Alison, who has long believed that all people should wear shirts when they’re in public, remarked after a while that she was sure she’s soon spy someone walking around naked. We didn’t see that, but we did see a man in just sneakers and jockey shorts.
“Told you!” she chortled.
We ran into Jeph and Norm and their friends. They were on their way out, but we had a fun little visit. Ali had collected two bead necklaces, and they all decided she needed a rainbow effect. She departed with about 10 different-colored necklaces, so she was really happy.
Jeff decided she need a longer civil rights lesson and was going on and on about it. Alison was as attentive as an 8-year-old could be. She’d noticed some fun little yard art items that were all rainbow themed, so he talked about how the rainbow is a symbol of how it talks all kinds of colors to make a rainbow, just like it takes all kinds of people to make the world.
It was kind of sweet watching him in his Dad moment, imparting such wisdom. I may write long, but I tend to be less verbose in my life lesson teaching and I knew he needed to wrap it up. But like an evangelist who just can’t let the summer revival crowd go gently into the night, he went too long.
“And that’s why we have that big rainbow hot-air balloon in our front yard,” he said, ending with a flourish.
“Uh, didn’t Aunt Margaret give me that?” asked Alison.
Had the balloon truly been a symbol of our gay rights support, it would have been a great closing. But Jeff failed to remember the lesson still burning a hole in my soul: not much gets by Alison Renee Reed.