Explaining the World to A Four-Year-Old: Boys Can’t Marry Boys… Can They?

Last night as I was putting the boys to bed, M asked (as usual out of nowhere) “how old do you have to be to get married?” I said: “I’m not sure, 16 I think” as I rummaged around for a nappy for L.

“60?!”
“No, 16.”

M then announced, in the sure-footed way that children do when they know they have figured out the world and culture that they live in: “but boys can’t marry boys” and then, not quite so sure: “can they?”

I wasn’t quite prepared for a gay marriage talk; I was in bedtime-routine- mode and had to think for a minute. But I was glad that I could say:

“Yes, they can now actually. In some places in America boys can marry boys and in England now they can too.” I didn’t explain about the whole history of the fight for gay marriage because it was late, I was tired, and he’s four.

I told him:
“You don’t have to worry about it until you’re older, but when people grow up some boys want to marry girls and some girls want to marry boys, but some girls want to marry girls and some boys want to marry boys. It depends how you feel but you won’t know how you feel until you’re older.”

M thought about this and then smiled a big smile and said: “I feel like I want to marry A!” (a little boy from his nursery).

I told him that was very sweet. I don’t know whether that means anything more than that he loves his best friend and it doesn’t matter. What matters is that he (and all the other little boys and girls growing up in the UK today – though not yet in the USA) will be able to marry whoever he chooses.

Unless he falls in love with a non-EU citizen and is earning less than £18.5k a year. But that’s a post/rant for another day.

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Burnt Supper

British/American, postgraduate, wife, mother, dog-owner

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