My husband and I met doing theater in college. I was a free agent, working on shows with different groups, not to mention dating around the theater community. I spent a good deal of time with members of the campus Glee Club, which was composed of a group of guys who liked to get on stage and sing hokey songs.
J, on the other hand, was committed. He was a member of Mask & Wig, an all-male burlesque group. Mask & Wig was not just a performing arts group; it was a club. The crew, cast, business staff and actors all worked together for four years, after undergoing a few initiation rites that involved wearing feather boas around campus for a week. These guys worked together, partied together, toured together, and generally had very little life outside the demanding rehearsal and performance schedule. J did a few other shows, which was how we met.
(I want to clarify for a moment that J was in the crew. I feel I need this caveat in case you ever meet him in person because, cute though he is, this man was not made to go around in drag. There were some fantastic drags in Mask & Wig, but J was definitely not one of them. We’re working on getting him to choose a t-shirt and shorts that don’t clash before we start thinking about allowing him to dress in sparkles and heels.)
Given the circles we moved in, it probably does not shock you to learn that we have quite a number of gay friends. Between the Glee Club and Mask & Wig, we managed to assemble a large assortment of gay male friends, not to mention a few straight but very metro men.
And yet, there has been some confusion on Zachary’s part.
Thinking it would be easier to explain adoption in terms of a gay couple, I brought up some friends he had a great time with on our last trip east. “Well, think about Ian and Theo. Can they make babies?”
“No,” he scoffed. “They aren’t ladies.”
“Right,” I said. “But they are looking for a lady who has a baby in her belly that she cannot take care of. Then she can give the baby to them and they can be the baby’s daddies. Do you think they would make good daddies?”
“No,” he answers again, as though the question is patently absurd.
“Because they don’t have any toys!”
OK, so we’ve cleared up the problem. It is not that two men should not raise children together, but that two men without toys are clearly unfit to be parents.
Unfortunately, due to a lovely picture book that our nanny brought home from the library, there have been more questions. (OK, it may also be because the kid is four.)
You see, we have very few gay friends who he knows who are in relationships. Our kids love one friend out here, but he’s single. Most of our old friends, however, are on the East Coast. So, there are few natural examples, and he has not come to take different kinds of couples as a matter of course. I always assumed our kids would, but most of what he sees are single people and heterosexual couples. So, trying to explain And Tango Makes Three was more complicated than I expected.
“You know how Mommy and Daddy are a couple, right? Well, that’s because Daddy wanted to be in love with a woman. But, our friend Oliver wants to be in love with a man. And when he finds someone to marry, it will be a man.”
“Why?” As if I expected any other response.
“Because he wants to be in love with a man. Some people want to be in love with women, and some people want to be in love with men.” Somehow, this answer passed muster, and we were clear. Until dinner a few nights later.
Not quite sure how it happened, but I found myself again wading through the there-are-all-different-kinds-of-families conversation. I tried using a family with two daddies from his school as an example, but Zach doesn’t really know the kids, so that was a dead end. Then, I explained how Laurie in his class has just a mommy.
“But how does her mommy take care of her and her brother?” he wanted to know. I liked that question. I had an answer to it.
Leave it to my husband to complicate matters. “What happened to her daddy?” he wanted to know. Because, really, he couldn’t wait till we were alone to ask something like that? Seriously? You had to know right at that moment, in front of the kids?
And, THAT is how I ended up explaining sperm donors to a four-year-old.