Last year, I posted my guide to not being an asshole during Pride. I was thrilled to know it struck a chord with so many.
This year, I wanted to include the smaller, meaner types we see during our festival: Children. I’ve run this idea by a few people and most of them warned me that a lot of folks may get offended by my post. Before you clutch your pearls to your chest claiming that your child is some wondrous creature without fault, I want to remind you of the following:
- I am a mother to a teenager
- I operated a home daycare for six years up until two months ago when I became the Artistic Director of b current performing arts and I was damn good at my job.
- I have worked with youth since I was 15 from ex-child soldiers in Colombia to prep school kids in King City, Ontario.
So I guess you can say, I know a few things about wrangling youngsters in challenging situations – if you want to call holding two toddlers on each arm with poop running down their legs and racing through a crowded mall a challenging situation. Even the sweetest angel of a child plopped down in those dense crowds will become a demon in seconds. What I am going to tell you isn’t the gospel. It’s not some holy scripture to follow. These are just tools and tips so that you can enjoy Pride. Sounds good? Okay. Let’s start.
MAKE PLANS AS LOOSE AS YOUR SEXUALITY WAS BEFORE YOU WERE A PARENT
And I mean loose. This isn’t a soccer game. Meeting friends or other parents to do things together at certain times is going to be a shit show. Yonge Street is sectioned off for the parade and you can’t cross it in time to meet folks on Church Street. You wanted to picnic at Allen Gardens but your kid is now sunburned. Your friend texts you saying “Look out for me in the pink tutu” only everyone at the Dyke March is wearing a goddamn pink tutu. Things like this happen all the time. My suggestion is to come to the festivities with a starting point in mind and nothing else planned. Even if you have a tiny desire to see something in particular, DO NOT SHARE THIS WITH YOUR KID OR RISK THE “BUT YOU SAIDS” FOR THE DURATION OF YOUR DAY AND YOU WILL REMEMBER READING THIS POST AND THEN WRITE ME SAYING “I SHOULD HAVE LISTENED TO YOU, YOU WERE RIGHT.” Is that what you want? Huh? Is. That. What. You. Want? Didn’t think so.
LET YOUR KIDS KNOW THAT ANY FUN SUGARY THINGS WILL BE CONSUMED AT THE VERY END OF PRIDE
I admit to making this mistake before. When my daughter was about three, we headed straight to the Baskin Robbins for ice cream. It was a hot day. The next thing I knew, she was covered head to toe in chocolate, rolling around on the asphalt from the sugar high. If I could rewind time, I would have brought ample healthy snacks for the day – including a lot of water – and made the ice cream parlour a special event for the very end of our visit. In honour of the ice cream debacle, we have our annual Pride ice cream at Baskin Robbins served to us by the same guy who sold us that chocolate cone many years ago.
KEEP YOUR KIDS ACTIVE
For children who are mobile, do get them out of the strollers or out of the wagons to move around. People often wondered how I could get my daycare children to nap so well and so quickly. It’s pretty simple: I made sure they were active from the time they were dropped off until after lunch. Arden used to be the Tyke on the Bike for the Dyke March. Yes, it was a lovely way for a queer spawn to show solidarity with her homo mom. It was also a way to guarantee a solid sleep that night.
HELP YOUR KIDS LEARN THE HISTORY OF PRIDE AND KEEP IT POLITICAL
Remember that the first Pride was a riot. You don’t need to get into the major details, but kids can easily learn about why we march, why we are proud, what it means to you. I know that my daughter is the proudest of me when I am proud of myself and our community. Parenting at Pride is good parenting.
FOR NON-LGBTQ PARENTS
- We are not a zoo. Please make sure your kid knows we are not spectacles but rather proud humans who are showing our true selves. They will learn from your example, so no pointing and laughing, touching without consent or side-eye.
- Watch your body language. If you think we are inappropriate being who we are, your kid will think so too. Clock yourself when you feel nervous about being in our presence. Acknowledge it and move on.
- March with us or cheer us on. Be an ally. Show up for us.
- Teach your child to respect people like us, even after the festivities are over. If you need help with this, drop by Glad Day Bookshop and buy my kids book.
Happy Pride, everyone!