Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Pesach Generation

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No Longer Just Kids' Stuff

At last night's seder, the kids felt more like fellow conversationalists than ever before. Both of the nine-year-old twins wanted us to know that there was an archaeological discovery at the Red Sea that made it seem as though its parting might really have happened; they didn't name their research source, but it was still fun that they were engaging with the story of the seder in that way.

I loved sitting next to my 15-year-old niece and along with my two sisters, hearing four, and no longer three, similar female voices singing the Pesach tunes. Pat told my sister Deb afterwards, "Just like you've taught your kids the songs, Zoe can teach her kids." Pat was struck and touched, I guess, by the new generation's strong voice.

Lounging on the couch after the seder, I felt like I was a bridge between my generation and the kids'; three out of four of them squeezed onto the couch with me. We talked with them about their preferred presidential candidate and about Art as a more marketable profession than Music -- an assertion by one of my brothers-in-law. Pat named her favorite candidate, "...for exactly the reasons that Zach [our sitar-star, 15-year-old nephew] mentioned."

Homophobia Emerged Like a Bit of Missed Hametz

During dinner, Pat began reminiscing about Zoe as a baby, particularly when Deb brought her to Chicago to visit us when we were living there, and when Zoe was just five months old. Pat recalled a moment when Deb and I went into a 7-11 store and the baby was left in the car with Pat. "She took one look at me and burst into tears," Pat said.

My brother-in-law, I was sure unintentionally insultingly, yet idiotically, blurted, "Yeah, she was thinking, 'Oh, no! I'm going to be raised by lesbians!'"

We didn't confront him because we knew he wasn't being consciously homophobic, but it was always moments like those when I just wanted to tighten the cocoon around Pat and me and not venture into situations, where non-lesbian people could hurt us.

Ironically, my other sister Kathy had led a discussion earlier in the evening on the Biblical passage that appeared in the Pesach Hagaddah, “You shall not oppress the stranger, for you know the soul of the stranger, having been strangers in the land of Egypt.” Exodus 23:9.

Kathy spoke of how meaningful this was to her, since she had worked with immigrants in her role for many years, and how important it was for all of us to respect people, who were different.

Joy and Pain Are Fraternal Twins

Just as I was hurt by my brother-in-law's ill-considered quip, I was pleased by a quick comment his daughter Zoe happened to make during dinner. We were talking about our favorite colors. "Zoe, you used to love pink -- for a little while, anyhow."

"You taught me about pink," she said.

"What do you mean?" I had no recollection.

"I had thought there were only primary colors and you taught me about pink."

Last night, I learned that currently, one of her new, favorite colors is orange. During our drive home, I told Pat, who was happy for me and said, "We never know how we're influencing little kids." When I told Pat that orange was among Zoe's new favorite colors, she said, "Why don't you give Zoe your [coral] Armani gown?"

I'm going to. I wore it once to the GLAAD Awards in Los Angeles, and she'd love it.

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