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.