Fostering Some Growth In Your Classmates

, , , , , , | Learning | April 27, 2021

This happened in the mid-1980s. My state had just declared that only straight people could now foster children and I was one of many protesting this new policy. I was also getting an education degree. One of my teachers had us form small groups and choose an issue in the news about children or education to present on at the end of the quarter. I ended up in a group of about five people I didn’t know. I suggested the foster care topic and everyone agreed.

Our first meeting was in a restaurant. One of my fellow group members, [Student], was a bit older than the rest of us and brought along his eight-year-old daughter. He didn’t see the problem with the policy change.

Student: “I mean, I wouldn’t want a gay person babysitting my daughter.”

Me: “Oh. So, you wouldn’t want me to babysit her?”

Student: “What? No. You could babysit her. I just don’t want a gay person to.”

Me: “I see. So, I couldn’t watch her.”

Student: “I’d be happy to have you watch her. I just don’t want her around gay people.”

This continued back and forth a few times and he was completely clueless. The other students were trying not to laugh.  

Over the next month or two, we kept meeting and [Student] was always polite but still homophobic and opposed to gay foster parents. It didn’t matter for the project as we were only giving a factual overview and then each presenting on our own sub-topics, so we didn’t have to agree. [Student] had been planning something about how terrible it was for children to be raised by parents who weren’t straight. Eventually, I came out to him formally. He was surprised and didn’t say much.

At our last meeting before the presentation, we went over each of our sub-topics as some had changed a bit.

Student #2: “So, [Student], what have you decided for yours?”

Student: “I’m going to talk about the psychological harm to children when they’re taken away from their loving gay foster parents.”

And so he did. It was perfect.


This story is part of our Feel Good roundup for April 2021!

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Chemically Imbalanced, Part 10

, , , , , , | Learning | April 21, 2021

Back in the early 1990s, two other male college freshmen and I were studying for an upcoming quiz for a chemistry class.

Student #1: “I’m really not feeling it. Think I should just skip the quiz entirely?”

Student #2: “Sodium hypobromite.”

Student #1: “What?”

I wrote out the chemical formula for sodium hypobromite: “NaBrO”.

Related:
Chemically Imbalanced, Part 9
Chemically Imbalanced, Part 8
Chemically Imbalanced, Part 7
Chemically Imbalanced, Part 6
Chemically Imbalanced, Part 5

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We Can Only Draw One Conclusion: SHE’S A WITCH!

, , , , , , | Learning | April 21, 2021

My two best friends and I are in sixth grade — age twelve — and have a mandatory art class. We are spending a week drawing houses. Our first assignment is to draw our own house.

[Friend #1] draws her house, but she forgets to draw one of her parents’ bedroom windows. That night, it storms very badly, and a tree falls in such a way that the window she forgot to draw is broken by a tree branch crashing through it.

The next day, we are supposed to draw a house that exists and that we wished we lived in. [Friend #1] draws [Friend #2]’s house, but she forgets to draw the garage. The previous night’s storm had affected the soil of the hill beside that house, and [Friend #2] comes home to find that a tree has fallen on the (empty!) garage. 

The next day, we are supposed to draw the house of a friend. 

Friend #1: “I guess I’ll draw your house, [My Name].”

Me: “Nope! Not allowed! No, thank you, please! I like my house perfectly intact and how it is, thank you very much!”

Friend #1: “But I already drew [Friend #2’s] house!”

Friend #2: “Yeah, and look what happened to it! And what happened to your house! If you forget to draw anything at [My Name’s] house, we won’t be able to go to her sleepover this weekend.”

Me: “Hey, weren’t you friends with [Former Classmate] before she moved?”

Friend #1: “Yeah, why?”

Me: “My mom’s coworker bought it, and Mom said they’re tearing it down so they can build their dream house! So if you mess it up with your weird drawing power, it won’t matter!”

Friend #1: “I don’t think I had anything to do with the garage or the windows, but fine, whatever.”

[Friend #1] draws [Former Classmate]’s house, forgetting to draw the sizable front deck. That house is on a very busy road, right across from a T-intersection. As my mom picks me up from school, she tells me we are taking a different way home than usual.

Mom: “Yeah, it’s a good thing [Former Classmate] moved! Someone crashed into her house and destroyed the deck.”

I call [Friend #1] when I get home and relay the information. 

Friend #1: “Okay, you know what? Fine. I thought you and [Friend #2] were just being weird about all this, but I guess I have to believe you. I’m drawing made-up houses the rest of the week.”

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It Takes A Special Kind Of Crazy

, , , , , , | Learning | April 13, 2021

My friend is griping about her government class, which is required for all high schools in the USA. The students at our school are not generally the brightest crayons in the box.

Friend #1: “I don’t see why we have to take government, anyway. Nobody here is gonna go into it.”

Me: “I’m sure there are people both dumb enough and charismatic enough to be politicians.”

Friend #2: “Like me?”

Me: “No. You’re way too much of a good person to be a politician.”

Friend #2: “Aww! Thank you!”

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Pretty And Witty And Very Literal

, , , , | Learning | April 6, 2021

I learned what the word “gay” means through an old song that uses it to mean “happy.” Being the oblivious girl I was, I didn’t realize that most kids didn’t know “gay” has two meanings, or that homophobia was a thing, until about eighth grade.

Once upon a time, about a dozen years ago, I was an undiagnosed autistic sixth-grader. A gaggle of girls sauntered over to me at recess, and one of them asked the strangest question.

Girl: “Are you gay?”

Me: “Which kind of gay do you mean?”

There is silence, a pause, and confusion all around.

Girl: “What?”

Me: “Well, there are two meanings. There’s happy, like—” *singing* “—‘happy and gay the live-long way.’ And then there’s ‘gay’ meaning, um, guys like liking guys or girls like liking girls.”

Again, silence. She’s not clarifying her question, but I’m going to do my best to answer. After all, maybe she’s asking to make sure I’m doing okay, or because she likes me, or maybe she’s confused, and hearing someone else’s story could help her figure herself out.

Me: “I mean, if you meant ‘happy,’ then yeah, I guess I’m pretty gay right now. I’m pretty happy. If you meant, um, the other one, then I guess I don’t know? I know I like guys, but maybe I like girls, too? I haven’t had many crushes, so maybe it’s just a coincidence they’re all boys? I know I’m not all gay, but maybe partly?”

The girls are slowly backing away. I don’t know how they expected this conversation to go, but this certainly isn’t it.

Me: “I’m like, 90% certain I’m not that kind of gay, but if I figure out I am, I’ll let you know, okay?”

They didn’t really talk to me much after that. I’ve since lost contact with them.


This story is part of our Best Of April 2021 roundup!

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