All at once, the suitcase burst open.
"Oh, my, it's a little girl from the jungle!" said the Queen.
"You're the child we've always wanted," said King and King.
- King & King & family by Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland
Earlier this year a sibling and I were discussing the book And Tango makes three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell. For those of you who don't know Richardson's book, it's a true story about a penguin that was raised by two male penguins. We were discussing picture books, this one in particular, when Mr. 8 walked in partway through the conversation. When he realised we were talking about a penguin family with two daddies, he looked puzzled, and somewhat confused. (Much later we'd find out that he'd gone to our mother, a counsellor, with all of his questions about why two mums or two dads couldn't marry each other, which is more or less how this post came about). It was then that I realised we'd never really talked about how some families have two mums/two dads. Not deliberately. It was more that we'd all assumed the boys would grow up seeing all sorts of different versions of families all around us and not see same-sex parenting as a curiosity. After all, Mr. 8 knows firsthand about single-parent families (his mum) and how extended families provide help and support and babysitting detail (his mum's siblings and parents), but zero about same-sex families. In fact, other than my dad's late brother, I couldn't even think of extended family members (such as aunts, uncles, etc.) in same-sex relationships. I couldn't come up with anyone in my family whose whanau resembled And Tango makes three. Is that important? Yes, I believe it is. I don't want him to believe that the idea of 'family' is about numbers (i.e. how many people make up a 'family') or sexuality. I don't want him to think that his way of being parented is the only way. I don't want him to think it's the 'right' way, because I don't think that it is. It's only *one* way. Nor do I want him to grow up 'tolerating' or 'putting up with' people. I want Kalani (Mr. 8) to enjoy people as they are, where they are. I want him to value people and never, not at any time, think that anybody's whanau is less in his eyes because they have two mums or two dads or even two uncles. If I want him to grow up with that way of thinking, though, it has to begin with us, in the home, and I'm going to start with these picture books.
Note: I had kinda noticed that we don't have a whole lot of recently published picture books on this topic so I've got a list of recommended/reviewed titles that I'm going to suggest the library purchase for our collections. Comments, as ever, are always welcome.
And Tango makes three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
At New York City's Central Park Zoo, two male penguins fall in love and start a family by taking turns sitting on an abandoned egg until it hatches. Ages 4-8
King & King / Linda de Haan & Stern Nijland
When the queen insists that the prince get married and take over as king, the search for a suitable mate does not turn out as expected.
King & King & family / Linda de Haan & Stern Nijland
King Lee and King Bertie take a honeymoon trip to the jungle and bring home a surprise.
Uncle Bobby's wedding / Sarah S. Brannen
Chloë is jealous and sad when her favorite uncle announces that he will be getting married, but as she gets to know Jamie better and becomes involved in planning the wedding, she discovers that she will always be special to Uncle Bobby--and to Uncle Jamie, too.
Heather has two mommies / written by Leslea Newman ; illustrated by Diana Souza
When Heather goes to playgroup, at first she feels bad because she has two mothers and no father, but then she learns that there are lots of different kinds of families and the most important thing is that all the people love each other.