Guest post by children's book author Elliot Kreloff
As long as I can remember I have wanted to be a father. I’ve always loved spending time with kids. Their honesty, love of play and pure, unadulterated joy has always been a delight for me, which is why I chose, as an artist, to design, illustrate and ultimately write books for kids.
As I reached my late thirties, my desire to be a dad felt even more pressing. A gay dad? Back in 1988? Not possible. I thought about trying to find a woman to marry… but the thought of living a lie, pretending to be something I wasn’t, felt awful. And living a lie was no way to bring up a child.
I was very lucky to have a wonderful friend, a woman, who also wanted a child, but she too, was not interested in being married. We decided we would adopt a child together, from Mexico, the rules were a bit looser back then, than in the US. After a lot of research and paperwork, with the help of a foreign adoption expediter (don’t ask!), after three months, we were told there was a newborn waiting for us in Mexico.
We had decided that we would continue to live in our own apartments (luckily just a few blocks from each other) and share all the necessities of childcare in both homes. How many times I pushed the stroller back and forth between our places, with our little baby girl happily watching the world go by.
Copyright © 2021 by Elliot Kreloff
As she got to school age, we worried that she might feel upset about having parents that did not live together, since most of her friends lived with both parents in one home. One day, when it was my turn to pick her up at school (Tuesday!) I heard her say to her best friend. “I’m lucky! I have two bedrooms. The one at my mommy’s is big and blue, and my room at my daddy’s is pink, and has a loft bed.” Her friend asked, “And you get to have toys at both places?”
I never forgot that moment. We were the ones that worried about what the other parent’s might think, but for our daughter, what was important was that she felt loved and cared for by her two parents who adored her. She was lucky!
After a few years, I met my partner. He was also a dad, with older kids from a marriage that didn’t work out. After dating for a while, we decided that we wanted to live together, so he moved into my place. It wasn’t an easy transition for any of us. We are still working on it, 25 years later.
When I first wrote Tuesday Is Daddy’s Day, the story was focused on the little girl’s upset with a new person moving into her dad’s home. My editor at Holiday House, smartly suggested that I try making the story about what most concerns a child, rather than what most concerns the adults (I still hadn’t learned that lesson!).
The revised story is what we published. I love that the presence of a gay couple, the diversity of the little girl and her parents are simply part of the little girl’s life. No biggie! This is the world today.
My hope is, the more that children see that world reflected in their books and on their screens, the more we can hope for a more welcoming world in their future.