My kid, Jetpack, thinks our family is the coolest thing ever. Last week, he had some routine bloodwork done. We sat down in the phlebotomist’s chair, and she began tying a big rubber band around his arm.
“Is this your daddy?” The woman is older, hard of hearing, generically pleasant.
“Yes. I have two daddies!” He shouts. Everything with a 3-year-old happens loudly. The middle-aged man at the nearby chair stares. The phlebotomist smiles at him.
“Well aren’t you lucky! What’s your daddy’s name?” (He goes on to explain both of our names, and his, and talk about his aunt’s ferrets, all before she manages to poke him. He completely confused the poor woman).
Passing has been a relatively new thing for me, and a double edged sword. Being read as a man, rather than a really butch woman, is a new thing. More complicated is that everyone reads me as a straight man, rather than a gay one. I don’t know how that happened, really.
Luckily, Jetpack has kept me honest. He’s called me dad almost as long as he has talked. And he’s corrected people for that long, too. At the park, to the other kids. “No, that’s my dad. I don’t have a mom.” Since before anyone else could understand all those words tumbling from his tiny lips. He’s always been quite verbal, naming his articulating end loader and his shirt with the styracosaurus to anyone who will give him a second’s attention.
And he will loudly respond, when people inevitably ask.
“Is that your daddy?”
“Yes! I have two daddies!”
There’s no closet around a 3-year-old.
It’s not like I’m ashamed, of course. If I was, I probably wouldn’t be writing on here. It’s just hard to drop it into conversation without seeming awkward. I was on the phone with a potential new landlord the other day. He was asking about the members of my household—a pretty legitimate question—and I referred to my partner repeatedly with masculine pronouns, and he—repeatedly—responded with feminine. “He works at [job].”
“Oh, she works at [job]?” Over, and over.
And then on our second phone call, “What’s your wife’s name?”
“Tyler.” Followed by an awkward silence. (We didn’t rent from him).
If I’d been my 3-year-old, I would’ve just shouted “NO he’s a BOY!” I don’t feel like I was exactly closeted at the time, but I definitely had more social awkwardness then Jetpack, for better or worse. We could probably all learn from the toddler lack of shame.
Like his pronouncements of potty-related activities (parents and caregivers of toddlers, you know what I mean), it seems a little inappropriate at times. Like when he shouts it to little old ladies at the grocery store. “I have two daddies!” On the other hand, at least he’s proud of us. In a year or three I won’t be able to kiss his cheek in public without blushing and grumbling and whining, and once he’s hit the double digits he’s probably going to spend a couple of days a year wishing none of us had ever been born.
But for now Jetpack is a very happy guy. He’s overjoyed to hold our hands in public—he likes “making a chain”—and hugging and kissing and shouting “I have two daddies!” to everyone who will listen. And there I will be, smiling nervously, hoping no one ever takes him off of his cloud.
There’s no closet around a 3-year-old—just a tiny room that’s good for locking the cat in, playing hide-and-seek, and jumping out at unsuspecting old ladies.
(I would love to read some similar stories–in what ways have your children brought your information out to air? I imagine a lot of us have some hilarious [and maybe not-so-funny] stories…)