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This is why we need diverse stories for kids

“Will you tell me a story?”

She asks for stories a lot. Maybe because we’ve been telling her stories since she was a baby. Because you can listen to Frog and Toad only so many times.

We told her the story of how her grandfather fell off his bike as a kid and broke his leg. The moral of that story is, don’t ride your bike on icy roads when your parents tell you not to. The 5-year-old’s takeaway is, Papa was a kid one day?

We told her about a very brave little monkey named Strawberry, who loved to ride his skateboard. The moral of that story: Be brave, and it’s OK if you break a skateboard or two along the way. Her takeaway: I love strawberries!

She can’t read more than a few sight words on her own just yet, so we read a lot, and in the car or at coffee shops or when we’re out exploring the city, we tell stories. Stories are my favorite, because they are fun and the perfect way to spread parent propaganda. The stories we tell deal with the issues we want our daughter to understand or new concepts we want to introduce. Strawberry, the monkey, has two moms, of course.

We had a few minutes before swim class and stopped at a café for a snack. I forgot to bring a notebook or something for us to do, so we told stories.

“Once upon a time, there was a princess. She was so beautiful, and she loved high tops.”

“Oh no, Mommy. You mean high heels.”

“No, she loved high-top sneakers, and she had every color high top in all the land, because she’s a princess. Her mother, the queen, was very upset about it. She believed beautiful princesses had to wear fancy shoes, and high tops are not fancy enough, so she was very upset with the princess.”

“That’s not right! You even have short hair and you are beautiful and we wear high tops and are so beautiful! Fancy is beautiful but you don’t have to be fancy to be beautiful! That queen is wrong!”

“You’re right. That queen is totally wrong. The high top princess was extra beautiful because she knows what she loves, and that’s the most important thing of all.”

Then it was her turn to tell me a story. It was a lovely story about a princess named Anna and a queen named Elsa. Maybe she’s trying to teach me that telling Disney stories is OK too. She’s right. I’ll tell all the Disney stories when they start having queer characters and same-sex parents. Deal?

More on parenting

The Mamafesto: The problem with princesses
Why marriage equality isn’t enough for same-sex parents
5 Things I don’t need a man to teach my kids

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