Usually at least one night a week my grandparents (Nannie and Papa) eat dinner at my house, something we have been doing for years. We talk about almost everything you can think of, priests at church,politics, my grandmother's sisters, my Service Learning, the cooking show my grandfather likes, my mom's co-workers. You name it, we have talked about it. Today the topic turned to some of my friends from high school who go to school in Boston.
"Did I tell you Nick has a girl friend now?" I blurted out.
My grandparents, who like Nick, express their happiness for him.
"What about Josh?" Nannie inquires. "Does he like any girls?"
"Um..." I am forced to make a split second decision. I haven't mentioned anything before, afraid my family will judge and condemn my dear friend. But then I remember, why should they react like this? "Actually Josh doesn't like girls."
"You mean he's gay?" Nannie asks.
Nannie answers, "Well I would never have known that. Not from his personality or anything. I always think I can tell if someone is gay." Looking at Papa she says, "Aren't I always telling you, this one is gay or that one is gay? Like from the way they talk."
"I guess you can't always tell something about someone from the way they act or look." I say.
"Is he gay? Well that's fine. He's such a nice young man. I guess he's still really into his music right now?" And the conversation moved on from there.
Later, Papa starts talking about some new neighbors moving in down the street. "They moved in next door to the black family down at the end of the street near Gentian. You know, I remember when in a neighborhood I used to ride my bike through, a black family moved in and all the For Sale signs went up."
"When was that?" I ask.
"Oh that was awhile ago. Now the people who live next door to us are black. And nobody wants to move."
"You do have a nice neighborhood," I comment.
"It is nice," Nannie agrees. "We're lucky. We don't care who our neighbors are as long as they are good neighbors."
Dinner tonight just made me realize that even though we are learning about these issues for school, they never really go away. This might be education for being a good teacher, but it's education for life as well.