Saturday, April 25, 2009

Speaking of Curiosity...

We had parent-teacher conference last night. I'm fighting off a bug but had to go; I don't think most parents could stand to get such information second hand. We all sit out there in the hall, nervously awaiting the verdict about our children's education, the details that are so hard to divine out of the accounts of 1st graders. They generally think the only salient events of their school day involve who brought what to lunch or who got in trouble :-).

We got there a bit early and Rob took a seat outside the door while I read through the adorable poems our kid's class had on their bulletin board in the hall.

From behind me I heard a boy, about the age of 12, come up and ask Rob, "Are you Brian's Dad?"

"Yes, my name is Rob; what's yours?"

The boy said his name and quickly and nonchalantly shot off, "Where's Brian's other dad?"

At that I turned around, a bit surprised an older kid we didn't know would come to ask that and so plainly. I said hi and introduced myself as he offered to shake hands. I recognized him by his mother's attention as the older brother of one of Brian's classmates, from a family we hadn't socialized with much.

Then he asked me where I work, followed quickly by "Which one of you was Brian's dad first?" This kid was quick with the questions. His mom interrupted before I could answer. She apologized, assuming the question was offensive. I assured her it absolutely was no bother, and we're used to such questions. Very often people assume one of us must have had our children in a heterosexual marriage, never considering we may have got together a decade before their birth. I just told the kid becoming fathers happened at the same time for us. His mom jumped in with an "Isn't that great?", one of those nice injections in casual conversation I've noticed other parents will give to let us know they're okay with our family. You just wouldn't say such things about heterosexual couples, and so it must be code :-).

At that, without pause, he went on to "What gym do you go to?" Giving him the benefit of the doubt--that this wasn't some stereotype ;-)--I told him, even though I probably should get some more exercise, we don't go to a gym, and that was that. He moved on to quizzing another set of parents waiting for their time with the teacher.

It turns out this adorably inquisitive and matter-of-fact kid goes to the same school and has some form of high-functioning autism. What stands out to me, of course, is the fact that another family there, one we don't know very well, seems to have felt fine discussing "two dads" with their children, and made clear to their kids that's okay, "great" even; though yeah, I know "great" means "okay" and it's just difficult to know how to put it :-). I eat such assurances up, knowing what they mean for our kids. Though his mom feared her son made us uncomfortable, I hope I got it across that I found the conversation heartening and found her son's forthrightness refreshing.

And on top of that, we left the conference inflated with the wonderful reports from their teachers. I keep going to these things nervous and leaving feeling ridiculous for the nerves, but what you gonna do? It's in my nature to be overly concerned about them. We do still have this "problem", I say, knowing full well I'll sound like one of those insufferable parents :-): "Brian is well above grade level in all areas", and Alan is "right where he should be, high first grade", and the problem is they tend to compare. But Alan has really blossomed into his own skills over this year.

At the end of each of these I always have to ask, just in case the teachers are too unsure how to bring it up, if our family is ever an issue or if there are any problems on that front we should be aware of. But nope, it's all clear, if not better than that. Heck, if our family ever needed to call independent witnesses for our defense, with the way their teachers talk, they would be the first people I'd call. Still and of course, I know we'll have to be vigilant and make some tough decisions to keep it this way, to keep them buffered from the rough waters of politics and religion out there.


Guy said...

Great to hear things are going so well with the boys and the school!

SexyClassicist said...

This story was very heartening to hear, but not for the reason you might expect. As a young(ish), straight woman I am terrified of one day having to attend parent-teacher conferences. As usual, you have made all the horror of parenthood seem less horrible. Thank you!

Devin said...

I'm on the other end of the table and am so nervous when parents come in for the interviews...

I'm very glad that there are some around you (especially children) who can see how good and normal your family is. The more that we understand diversity, the better able we will be make the world a better place.

The children see it, so the nation will change!

El Genio said...

You guys are such awesome examples. Thank you.

Daniel said...

Whenever I have heard a child speak ill of growing up in his/her gay household, it has always been the child of a SINGLE gay parent. I wonder if Rosie's child asked about a dad because Rosie's child was curious about where the other parent was, and "dad" means other parent in the common vernacular when you have a mom.

I watched a woman on a TV series who was very much against same gender households because of her experiences. She had been raised by a gay man who was always bringing home his one night stand boyfriends. He was open with his daughter about what he was doing at an inappropriately young age. In turn, she felt like she had no value to her dad as a woman. She blames this on the fact that she didn't see him love a woman. I blame it on the fact that he was a promiscuous man with poor parenting skills.

This is where gay marriage is necessary. Marriage protects children from situations like hers. Gay marriage protects children from situations like hers.

Daniel said...

Whoops, I posted that comment on the wrong post. Disregard that.

Scot said...

Hey Guy; it's good to see you again. Back from your exotic vacation? It sounded wonderful.

SexyClassicist: "I am terrified of one day having to attend parent-teacher conferences."

As I tell straight friends who worry about becoming parents: fear of becoming one is a sign you'll make a good one :-). It means you're taking it seriously.

Devin "I'm on the other end of the table and am so nervous when parents come in for the interviews..."

Glad to hear it's not just the parents ;-). I bet it can get ugly sometimes, and have heard stories.

And thank you, El Genio.