Thursday, January 2, 2014

Explaining It to the Family

While I was sick at my parents' place last weekend, my mom thought it would be wonderful to bond over an episode of Big Bang Theory that was "just so funny!" my mom simply had to share it with me.

I didn't disillusion her. To be honest, I think Big Bang Theory's biggest sin is the sitcom format rather than its "misrepresentation of nerds." I appreciate the show's attempt to take a (perceived) marginalized group and make them relatable to the masses, and I think Big Bang Theory does that well enough.

Understanding is a slow process. We see it a lot in today's socio-political battles, especially anything relating to sexuality. We see it in race relations and the understanding of science and education. Open-mindedness is the exception, not the rule, so to be able to approach understanding from the side, as Big Bang Theory does, seems pretty brilliant to me. Brilliant, and much more effective than shouting, "This is the way it is! Why can't you understand that!"

I certainly don't know how to really explain my life to my family. In the two decades or so since I've started this journey my family and I have had this unspoken understanding (though we have spoken of it once or twice recently) that they and I had different interests and ambitions, and that we were content for that to be the case so long as we're each happy. However, to be honest, I've always understood their motivations. So, really the misunderstanding was always one-way.

So, with that in mind, when my mom wants to sit down and share an episode of Big Bang Theory with me, I do so, smile at the jokes, and if she asks if I ever do something like this or know someone who acts like that, I answer her honestly, and pleasantly. It's not terribly funny, and I don't laugh, despite the fact that I can feel my mom's eyes on me when something "funny" happens. The implications of that, though, always make me smile, which I think reassures her enough.

My mom is trying to understand me. There's nothing misguided about that.

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