Dad led our family conversations at the dinner table that evening. He asked all three of my sisters in order of age what happened at school. He then asked what they had learned in Primary. Finally, being the youngest, he asked me if anything interesting happened during the day.
“Colin got in trouble in Primary,” Stephanie said.
I began to push my green peas around the plate with my fork so I didn’t have to look my dad in the eyes.
“Is that true?” he asked.
I nodded and put a scoop of vegetables in my mouth.
I shoved some tuna casserole into my mouth. If I kept it full, maybe I wouldn’t have to answer.
“He and Danny were kissing during singing time,” Stephanie explained. “And it made the chorus leader mad.”
Dad coughed up a little bit of the milk he was drinking. He wiped liquid off his chin and shirt and looked at each one of his children sitting at the dinner table. His eyes looked sad, and I focused my eyes more on the mess of vegetables and casserole on my plate.
“What ha–,” Dad began to ask, but something in his throat stopped him from finishing the question.
He looked at me again, but I wouldn’t lift my eyes up from my plate. His eyes moved across the table and until they met my mother. They looked at each other, and I thought I could see my father struggling to hold back some tears. My mom gave him a small smile, winked, and nodded her head.
“Let’s talk after dinner, Colin,” Dad finally said. He placed his folded napkin onto his empty plate. “But help your mother clean the table first.”
Dad was reading a book when I entered his bedroom. I couldn’t read the title, but it was very thick, and I could see that he had written some notes into a notebook he had placed on the small table next to him. He pulled the additional chair he had brought into the room in front of him so that we could have a face-to-face conversation.
“You and Danny are pretty good friends, aren’t you,” he said as I sat in my chair.
“Peter, too,” I said.
“Peter, too,” he repeated. “It’s nice to have such good friends, isn’t it.”
I nodded again.
“I understand that Danny was kissing you and telling you that he loves you today.”
I smiled and laughed a little. It was good to know that somebody loved me. It made me feel happy. I looked at my father and he seemed upset. Why?
“Boys don’t do that with other boys,” my dad said. There was a tightness in his voice.
“Why?” I asked. “We talk about love a lot in Primary.”
My dad placed his elbows on the small table, clasped his hands together, and rested his forehead between his thumbs and index fingers. It looked to me like he was saying a silent prayer. After a couple of minutes, he lifted his head and was ready to speak again.
“You see, there are different kinds of love. There’s a romantic kind of love—the kind of love your mother and I have for each other. That is a strong love that leads to marriage and starting a family.”
“Peter, Danny, and I want to get married when we are older,” I said.
“When you get older and meet a girl that you feel that romantic love for, then you can get married,” my father replied. Dad knew I meant something else, but he wasn’t about to let that ruin the great lesson he had planned.
“You and your friends share a different kind of love—a brotherly love.”
“Ya,” I said.
“That sort of love isn’t expressed through kissing and hugging. Boys shake hands or pat each other on the back, but they don’t kiss. Do you understand?”
I wasn’t sure what was wrong with boys kissing each other, but I shook my head in agreement. If my dad said it, it must be true.
We sat quietly for a couple of minutes when my father finally pulled a brochure from the back cover of the book he was reading. He opened it and scanned the page until he found the information he wanted.
“I think it’s time we get you started in some sports,” he said.
“They are signing boys up for the city basketball league right now, and the games are every Saturday at the junior high school. The same times your sisters have dance classes. This should be fun for you.”
I wasn’t even sure what basketball was, but I was excited to go with my sisters when they have their dance classes. They seemed to have a lot of fun doing that.