I recently saw a show on television. My niece came in on the end. At some point, a gay couple kissed. I didn’t think much of it when my niece turned to me inquiringly. She’s aware I’m gay and I’m always ready if she has questions. I was expecting her to call the kiss “gross” or something. Instead, she stared at me for a moment, appearing quite serious and thoughtful. Then she said, “Titi, I’ve never seen you kiss anybody.”
I paused, shocked, and realized she was right.The last time I was in a serious relationship, she was very young and doesn’t remember it. And since then, I’ve been very careful not to introduce anyone as anything other than a friend. If I’m not serious about it, there’s no reason to get her emotionally invested.
“Titi isn’t in love with anyone baby,” I said carefully. “But one day, Titi will get married and then I’ll kiss someone.”
“Okay,” she said. Moments later, she was ignoring me and playing on her tablet. That was the end of it for her, I’m sure, but days later, I’m still thinking about it. Leave it to the mouths of babes to send you into emotional reflection.
I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to how sharp my niece is. She doesn’t miss a thing. I’ve always tried to carry myself with integrity, and given how closely she’s watching, I’m relieved I’ve taken that approach. Lord knows the types of questions she’d hit me with if I wasn’t more careful.
Now, I’m not sure what’s on my mind more: That she’s noticing my love life, or the realization that my love life hasn’t been much of a priority to me. Before therapy, I was just dating and running the streets and not really investing in anyone or anything. Now, I’m making sure to work on my emotional health before diving into anything, but I can honestly say it hasn’t been “that serious.” Yes, I want to do better in the future, but I don’t know that I was thinking about the impact it would have on anyone other than myself.
I now understand that’s a mistake. When children are in your life, relationships really do matter. She’s watching and learning from me. And when I get someone around, it’ll be imperative that I show her a HEALTHY, LOVING interaction.
I need to be careful. Because she’s watching. And now, I’m watching myself.