Children’s Day 2012
With Mother’s Day in May and Father’s Day in June, when do we celebrate Children’s Day?
After all, children are the primary reason for a mom’s day and a pop’s day. Hallmark hasn’t tumbled to the possibilities as yet, but a celebration of children is bound to become fact.
In the community where I grew up, my evangelical church family did, in fact, celebrate Children’s Day in early June. I remember it well because my aunt was superintendent of the Sunday School, and yearly I was conscripted to go with her on the Saturday morning preceding the event to strip nearby fields of wild daisies. You know, the “she loves me, she loves me not” variety. Large buckets full of daisies graced the impromptu platform erected at the front of the church. There, to the delight of adoring parents, the children of the church would tug at their trousers (and occasionally wet them), twist their tresses and hopefully remember their memorized Bible verses and poems.
After the affair each child got a piece of penny candy and a pansy plant to take home.
It’s possible I’ve never outgrown childhood. Actually, most of my adult working life was devoted to child health and development. Which may be the reason I read and re-read President Obama’s May 13 interview in which he voiced his personal support for same-sex marriage. His announcement, though long overdue, was thrilling—and it was also intriguing. What intrigued me was that almost every reference to same-sex marriage in his brief speech was accompanied by a reference to the children of gay and lesbian couples. He noted the commitment and love of their same-sex parents. Obama’s interview demonstrated not only his affirmation of same-sex marriage but also his affirmation of gay and lesbian couples as parents. That’s a historic first from the White House.
The first Broadway play I ever saw was Tea and Sympathy in the mid-fifties with Tony Perkins and Deborah Kerr in the lead roles. In a poignant scene Tony Perkins, portraying a late-teen who is a new arrival at a New England boarding school, confesses to his house mother, Deborah Kerr, that his parents had considered divorce before he was conceived. Instead, they had him. Then they divorced when he was eight months old. “You know,” Perkins sadly observes, “it’s a terrible thing to grow up knowing you failed in your very first job in life.”
I’ve never seen statistics documenting how many children are born each year in the hope of salvaging a doomed marriage. Nor have I seen statistics documenting how many couples stay together for “the sake of the children.” But I do know that in the 2010 census 25% of households self-identified as same-sex households were raising children. That’s an impressive number for a group of citizens not allowed to marry. And that’s a number that will continue to grow as the emphasis for gays and lesbians inexorably moves away from promiscuity and self-fulfillment toward monogamy and child rearing. Obama questioned whether opponents of same-sex marriage had “had the experience that I have had in seeing same-sex couples who are as committed, as monogamous, as responsible—as loving a group of parents as any heterosexual couple that I know. And in some cases more so.” That’s a strong affirmation of same-sex parenting from the leader of the free world. Almost every reference in his speech affirming same-sex marriage was accompanied by a reference to the children of gay and lesbian couples.
With the increasing acceptance of same-sex marriage, same-sex families will increasingly include children. All the more reason for Hallmark to realize that Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are meaningless unless we celebrate Children’s Day.
John Siegfried, a former Rehoboth resident, lives in Ft. Lauderdale. He is the author of Gray & Gay, A Journey of Self-acceptance. Email John Siegfried