For the first time I hesitated, not sure we should take the girls to Sunday's Pride parade. They've been every year, enjoying the music (although Kate firmly holds her ears when the very loud thump thump floats pass by), the color and the scenery. Last year there were a few questions but we prefaced the outing with a conversation about this parade being a chance for people to get together and just be silly, so we came back to that in our answers. But this year could be different, they are completely in tune and question everything. There was no way I was ready to answer these questions.
But Sunday was a beautiful day, sunny and warm, but not at all hot, and the best place to be outside was the parade so off we went, having a very similar conversation to last year on the walk down. It was crowded, from our shoulders the girls could only see the biggest and most extravagant floats; loud music and bright colors were everywhere, delightful to a four year old. "Mom! That man is wearing a bathing suit!", right then, that's no bathing suit but from this vantage point, why not? "Mom! Pink flamingos!", "Mom, rainbows everywhere!". We didn't last long, turns out it does get a bit warm, even with a lovely lake breeze, when holding a 35 pound toddler on your head.
There were no questions, not one. On the walk home I struggled to find the antonym for alternative, Jack suggested mainstream. The reality is that the parade represents nothing to my children, nothing beyond dancing and music and adults in bathing suits in the middle of the day. Some of the people they love most lead a commonly defined alternative lifestyle but to Mary and Kate there is nothing alternative about it; at four they have not yet assigned the labels we insist upon having.
This will change, soon enough they will find that this parade does in fact represent something to many, it is important and it is something to be celebrated. But for now they live with a wonderfully naive understanding that it's really alright to love just about anyone.