In the Weeds

I’m thinking that maybe my blog should be entitled “The Seamy Underside of Gays with Kids.”  Sometimes I really do feel guilty when I read the other blogs with young and hopeful dads raising the equivalent of Donna Reed or the Waltons. But there is a purpose to what I write, even if it is a cautionary tale about how NOT to parent. Sweet little babies become toddlers who become adolescents, who become pre-teens who have to make adult decisions. Brian and I don’t have older gay mentors, so we pretty much stumble through all of this, occasionally stubbing our toes on the right answer.

This morning as the dogs were barking and the boys were arguing about who had not brushed their teeth and who had fed pancakes to the dogs, Aidan sniped, “Oh, yeah? Why don’t you just tell Daddy that you smoked weed yesterday?”

The kitchen went quiet.

After an excruciating silence I asked, “What does that mean?”

“What could it mean, Dad?” Zane said sheepishly, “This kid named Momo had weed, and we smoked it yesterday, in the stairwell where people make out.”

I am not a very bright gay with kids, but I did figure out pretty quickly that this was a one-on-one conversation. I was hit pretty much unawares by the birds-and-bees conversation, as well as the adopted-but-chosen conversation as well as the why-am-I-black-and-you-white conversation, but for each of those, I figured out that the other son is just a spectator, and the best way of cutting the odds is one-on-one.

The boys put on their shoes, picked up their backpacks and got into the car.

It was raining as we drove to school. We dropped Aidan off first, and then Zane and I went and got hot chocolate for him and a green tea latte for me. We stopped a block away from the Middle School. I parked the car, and turned it off. The rain made satisfying pings against the roof.

I sighed, “First of all, thank you for telling me. I’m not going to be a hypocrite here, but I didn’t try it till I was in college. Now, I know I am old-fashioned, but it gets down to this: Twelve years old is not old enough to make this choice.”

“Yes, Dad.” No argument.  No eye rolling.

“Did you like it?”

“To be honest, yes, I did.”

“Well, here’s the thing, Zane. You know you were born addicted to crack. And it’s a hard thing to understand, but that is just what the body does. Sometimes a body likes a substance so much that the body uses too much of it, and gets hurt in the process.”

“Like Papa smoking?”

“Yes, like Papa smoking. And it took thirty years for him to quit.”

“Dad, I won’t do it again.” I did not tell Zane that this was probably not true. I just let him be. Each of the decisions we make are for just one moment of time. We cannot make promises for the future. We can only make decisions for the NOW, but twelve years old was too young to understand this. But Zane had told me the truth, and on the morning that I first learned that my son had used drugs, that victory had to be enough.

The rain picked up a little, and underneath those pings of rain against the car roof, there was the sound of the drops lightly plopping against the glass. “Which sound do you like better, Zane?  The drops falling against the roof, or the drops falling on the windshield?"

“The roof, Daddy.”

“Why is that?”

“If you think about it, that drop of water is part of a big cloud, and then part of a big rain, and after it falls, just a part of the river heading to the big ocean. But for just one moment, it makes its own drumbeat and you and I are the only ones who ever heard it.”

Posted by Kevin Fisher-Paulson

Kevin is the author of "A Song for Lost Angels," his memoir of how he and his husband fostered, raised and lost newborn triplets. Kevin is also featured in "When Love Lasts Forever," "MHR is my home," and writes a column for the San Francisco Chronicle. He lives in San Francisco with his husband, his two adopted sons and his four rescue dogs.


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