August 23, 2007

T minus two weeks

How's this for a quest? Two weeks from today our D will be halfway through his first day of kindergarten.

I think my stomach just did a half-gainer.

The hardest thing at this point, I think, is not having any idea who he'll be hanging out with, either on the kid or teacher side of things. (Our district apparently has a long history of doling out teacher assignments at the last possible second, presumably with an eye towards decreasing opportunities for parental whining and conniving.)

Last year, at our Gentle Little Quaker School, D's early reports about his classmates included a somewhat puzzled reference to "that kid who always seems mad." More curious than alarmed, I did a little digging and discovered that F, the kid in question, had just moved to our town. FROM BELGIUM.

The first week he spoke basically no English. By the second week he had learned enough to quietly say, "I want Mommy." Poor little thing! I talked with D about how hard it would be to suddenly be transported halfway around the world to a country where the people all spoke a language you didn't understand. D seemed to "get" what I was saying, and promptly tucked F under his wing. One day in November D came home almost breathless with excitement.

"Mommy, the greatest thing happened today at school. F said my name, and it was just REGULAR!" They have remained friends, and when I wondered out loud if this year's class at Down the Street Elementary might include a student who had just arrived from another country, D piped up with, "That would be nice!"


As a result of his experience last year, my kid is now prejudiced TOWARDS recently-arrived immigrants. Take some notes, grownups.

On the way into work this morning I was fantasizing about some other family in our town setting their kid up to be positively disposed towards my two-mom son. "Just think, sweetie, you might have someone in your class with TWO moms!" To which junior would of course respond, "That would be nice!"

We have been very fortunate so far. D has only gotten one overtly negative reaction (that we know of) to his two-mom status, and that was from a young friend who just got it into her head that he MUST have had a dad at one point, and since the dad was clearly nowhere around, said dad must have died. Since D and his little friend S were four years old at the time, this quickly devolved into a shouting match:

S: Your dad is DEAD!
D: He is NOT. I don't even HAVE a dad!
S: Well, you probably did, but now he's DEAD!!
D (shrieking): I DON'T HAVE ONE AND HE'S NOT DEAD!!!

Luckily it didn't come to blows, the parents were totally cool, and the kids were pretty good friends and so had some good will in the bank... it all worked out.

I talked with a friend of mine last night whose 9 yr. old has run into some "push back" from peers about his two-mom status. One time, when a schoolmate said, "Well, one of them HAS to be a step-mom," my friend's son didn't argue, but instead came home and checked in with his completely un-step moms.

At this point, our son is currently more likely to fight for his version of the truth, but who knows? If he continues to hear from people that his family "can't" be the way it actually is, he might start to question. Or at least opt to pick his battles.

When I tell friends my (by now very old) coming out story, I often explain my family's growing acceptance and support this way: "I wore them down with the persistent fact of my happiness."

If the need arises, I hope our son can wear his world down with the persistent fact of his happiness!


(Thanks to the women of Mama Says Om
for their continuing inspiration.)

4 comments:

Wendy said...

One beautiful boy!
Two beautiful moms!
One beautiful-happy family!

polka dot witch said...

i just found your blog today from a link @ moxie's blog. i love the story you tell here in this post. it is so vivid. and your son is so beautiful!

i also just found your "my life in stories" project and realized i have lists and essays floating around (including one on my blog under my bio called "personal story"). this would be a great way to formalize that writing and take the pressure off from feeling like i have to tackle the whole life at once.

email if you want or just visit the blog! i'd love to hear more of your stories, so i'll check in again.

--carolee

Shelley said...

Wendy, thanks so much, I can feel the love from here!

And welcome, Carolee! I'd love to talk more about the My Life In Stories project... will email you for sure!

cloudscome said...

I think I told you this story before. When I was teaching first grade I witnessed a conversation between a girl with two moms and several of her classmates with hetero parents. Little girl said she didn't have a dad and some others tried to argue that she had to have one because every one does. She insisted she didn't. The other kids were getting frantic over it but she was very calm.

I finally interjected that maybe the other kids meant that it takes a man and a woman to have a baby. "Oh, that." she said. "Well I don't have a dad, but I have a sperm donor."

"Oh." the other kids said, some a bit puzzled, and things moved on. At the age of literal understanding sometimes they just want the facts laid out. Life has to make sense, after all.

Your boy certainly has a persistent happiness. What a beautiful smile!

Here's to a fabulous kindergarten year!