Monday, June 01, 2009

The radical act of being ourselves

In the last couple weeks of school, Scooter's class reviewed the months and made a calendar. Each month was associated with a specific event or holiday. And so every time a month is mentioned, he pipes up with that month's special day.

We were driving along the other day, talking about how close June--and his summer vacation--was.

"Father's Day is in June," he remarked. Then some amusement crept into his voice, "And I don't even have a dad!"

We brought up the fact that we can celebrate Father's Day with his grandfather. This appeased him and the conversation moved back to summer vacation and his intention to emulate Phineas and Ferb.

We've long been prepared for questions, difficult questions, from Scooter about our family and how he came to be. Yet he's only once or twice asked why he doesn't have a father. He was younger then and easily satisfied with the explanation that families can look different and his family has two moms.

We haven't gone far into the "where do babies come from" discussion either. He still subscribes to the belief that babies come from "the baby store" (not sure where that came from, though I think it's his self-manufactured explanation). I've brought up at least some correction each time this arises, though the furthest any conversation has gone ended with him exclaiming, "You ate me?!" That was on the way to school and his voice carries, so I decided to table further discussion until later. I recently tried to explain the idea of a uterus/womb to him. He wasn't interested in continuing the conversation, so that's where we've left it.

This attitude, this non-need to question the way his life is, continues, I suspect, as a result of his likely-Asperger's. It's hard for him to take a worldview other than his own, so he doesn't even think to wonder about its differences from others around him.

His classmates, on the other hand, have been quite interested in the idea that Scooter has two mommies. It's one of those things that came up on occasion throughout the year. As Trillian took more turns dropping Scooter off at school and picking him up, even going in for one of my volunteer hours when I was substitute teaching, the questions increased.

"He really has two moms and no dad?"

"How can he have two moms?"

"Wait, so you're his mom and you're his mom too?" (said on those occasions when we'd both go up)

"Why does he call you that?" (referring to the non-standard name he calls me)

My answers are simple, variations on "that's just what our family looks like" and "all families look different." (And, on that last one, "It's just what he decided to call me. There are a lot of different words that can mean 'mother' and this is his word for me.")

So many of the students in Scooter's class live with their biological mothers and fathers; only a couple have divorced parents. All of them have at least one other sibling (seriously, Scooter was the only only-child in his class). And so our family interests them, challenges their definition of family, usually the first any of them have dealt with outside of their expectations.

We'll have some new classmates to introduce to this concept next year. Though I'll be interested to see how many of this past year's classmates try to explain it to them and just what exactly they say.


Team Serrins Springfield said...

How interesting that he isn't really interested in the "where did I come from" part of the 2 moms/0 dads equation. Asher was recently questioned by a neighborhood girl who when he said that he didn't have a dad said, "oh. How sad." He was awesome, saying, "Not really. When I grow up I'm going to BE a dad." With him, we've basically put it in terms that you have to have some ingredients or parts from a girl and some from a boy to make a baby and we got the boy parts from a store where men who want to be helpful are willing to give them the parts. And we bought them and made him and his sister. It's worked so far.

Cold Spaghetti said...

My son just recently told one of our friends (who we've known since he was a baby), "you married a girl." She was like, "yup, I did." And he said, "okay." And that was that. Nothing about where their boy's father was (my son is 5, maybe he's not really thinking that both sexes are needed in the whole conception thing). It was the first time he really acknowledged that he was aware of culture's hetero focus, which I found interesting. What I loved about the whole thing is that he rattled out the observation but it was clearly not a big deal to anyone. I love how you describe "all families are different" to the kids who ask questions.

I am so hopeful that my kids will grow into a society where they can live and love and raise kids with whomever they want because it's right for them without it being radical.