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How to (Not) Talk About Boys With My Daughter

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This is all HIS fault.

So Daughter and I are hanging out at home. As we do.

Yesterday, she was at her mom’s house. While she was there, she watched The Avengers for the first time. I’m all excited to hear what she thought of it, card-carrying Nerd that I am. I’ve been trying to get her to watch it for months. She’d previously resisted, saying she thought it might be too intense or scary for her “age group.” Her words.

I’m thrilled we can now talk about how supremely, galactically cool the movie is. “So was I right?” I ask eagerly. “Was it awesome? Was it the best superhero movie ever?”

Never one to concede easily, she says, “I guess.”

“No,” I say, “I need more. I need you to admit it was completely amazing.”

“Fine,” she concedes, “I admit it. It was totally great.”

Score for Dad. “Aha!” I crow, basking in the moment. “I told you you’d like it. I never steer you wrong when it comes to movies. Right? Right?”

“I know, I know,” she admits. (But not without an eye roll.)

And then she says, with a fresh spark in her voice: “One thing’s for sure, though. Captain America is totally HOT.”

This is not the first time she’s called a movie star hot. (See: Peeta.) I’ve gotten used to it, although I still get a little squinchy every time she says it, and have to suppress the urge to say “NO NO NO YOU ARE ELEVEN THERE IS NO HOTNESS FOR AT LEAST THREE MORE YEARS YOU ARE FORBIDDEN TO HAVE HUMAN GIRL EMOTIONS BEGONE TO YOUR IVORY TOWER AND HUSSSHHHHH.”

But the truth is, she’s definitely of the age when puppy crushes begin. It’s time. And it’s ok. Besides, I don’t think “hot” is a sexualized term for her yet. It’s just the language she’s speaking, courtesy of Middle School. Her friends call guys hot all the time. (Only famous guys, though. So far, they still think the boys at school are all gross. Thank God.)

So it’s fine that she thinks Captain America is “hot.” No problem. I’m good.

But then she says:

“Daddy, do you think Captain America is hot?”

Screeeeeeeeeeeech.

“I… um… well… what?”

“I said, do you think he’s hot?”

“How’s that again?”

“Do. You. Think. Captain. America. Is. Ho–”

“So sorry, I can’t hear you.”

“Yes you can!”

“Sorry, the reception is bad.”

“I’m right in front of you! Just tell me if you think that guy is–”

“I’m going through a tunnel.”

“DAD!” She’s looking at me expectantly, no intention of letting me off the hook.

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Ok, Mr. Super Well-Adjusted Gay Dad. What to do here? It feels like an extremely awkward (albeit predictable) moment, and it would be so even if she was asking me to assess a woman. Is it extra-bonus weird because we’re talking about a guy’s Hotness Quotient? Should it be weird just because it’s the first time she’s asked such a question, requiring a gay man’s response?

Moderate honesty is the way to go, I decide. So I say, “I suppose he’s a handsome guy, yes.”

A pretty bland response from me, I know. But it’s enough to make her crack a huge grin. I can tell that a) she knows I’m officially uncomfortable talking about this with her, and b) she loves it.

“You know what’s great about having a gay dad?” she  says then, “We get to talk about boys together!” And then she laughs and goes into the kitchen to get a snack.

Right.

Awkwardness aside, this is yet another one of those Dad situations I’m actually glad for. The more we talk, the more comfortable everything becomes. I’m a fan of it, the talking. The ability to talk about boys with my daughter will definitely come in handy soon. We’re going to be at “that age” in no time. I don’t know if my being gay is going to make it easier for her to confide in me, but if it does, great. If she can talk to me candidly about how much she likes Captain America, maybe she’ll feel comfortable talking about a guy in her class that she likes, when the time comes. And maybe she’ll be comfortable asking me  more questions about the guy that I like (i.e. my partner).

All in due time. I’ll be ready for it when it matters. But for now?

No, Daughter. No. We won’t be talking about boys together. Not quite yet.

Now go to your room until you’re thirty.

 

Seth Taylor writes about parenting at DadCentric, and on his own blog The Didactic Pirate. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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