Wednesday, October 11, 2006

As soon as I said it I knew it was a mistake. Little skirmishes arise. Ethical grenades are lobbed your way in the most innocuous of places, a grocery store, a co-worker’s party, or a playground.

Extroversion shows itself early on the playground. Some kids are very chatty and as soon as they learn to string a few words together, they’re yakking away. Since it was so warm that day I strapped E into the backpack carrier, leashed up Nemo and started down the trail to the playground about a mile or so away. I love the wooded path and Nemo really gets into all the deer, rabbit and who knows what else smells.

At the park, I set E down and he raced off to pick up rocks, one of his new hobbies. I noticed a little girl staring at us as I chased E around. When I got within range the question salvo began, “What’s he doing? What’s his name? What are you doing?” The nanny sat on the bench talking away as her little charge was left to amuse herself.

With a little attention Ms. Chatty ramped it up. “Are you E’s daddy?” and then “Where’s E’s Mommy?”

I’d never been asked this before. My mind pinged through a couple options and then I went with the easy answer, “E’s Mommy is far away.”

As soon as it came out I knew it was wrong - wrong for me, wrong for E and wrong for my family. Once it’s out there you can’t go back either. She accepted the answer but I knew I was going to have to do better. I wanted to make it easy for her to give her something that fit into her world.

E is picking up on these cues. He sees the Mommies coming to pick up the kids at daycare. He knows he has 2 dads and he knows they love him. Right now he doesn't know that it's different and I wish I could keep him in this safe little world. I want him to be proud of who he is and to be proud of his dads.

More than that I want to be proud of his dads and this time I think I failed.


Steve said...

I think we're all thrown the first time it happens. None of us prepare or a rehearse a standand answer and that first time we do address the question, it comes out sloppy.

The good thing was that it happened with a little girl who won't remember your answer by tomorrow. And you get chance the next time to make it sound really good.

Beth said...

It's like coming out all over again, isn't it?

I don't know how long I stumbled over questions like, "Does Carl have a girlfriend?" or "Are you his real mother?"

It was months, maybe years, before I was answering with being flustered, "No, but he has been talking about a cute boy in his English class."

Mark said...

Just as there are few correct answers "how to raise our children" there are the same number of answers as to how we partner and who we love.

I still feel awkward about being a gay man a lot of the time.....but as time goes by it gets easier.

Your answer was just that, an answer, but now that you have been confronted with "that question" you be better prepared the next time it is asked. The new answer may not satisfy you any better, but at least you'll have time to contenplate it......

You're doing a great job....just keep breathing (at least that's what I tell myself)

BriteYellowGun said...

You didn't fail. Usually, in our case at least, you can just "sense" the opportunities to be open and forthright about the situation. In other cases, such as when children are asking questions or you suspect you are talking to someone who may be less than understanding, being vague is exactly the RIGHT way to approach the situation. Oh...the stories I could tell you about our kids. They LOVE talking about their two dads at school and have absolutley no shame about it whatsoever. The teachers are the ones who seem to not have any idea how to handle it which is ridiculous in itself!

The Brian said...

Thanks for the input all, I appreciate it muchly.