Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Things that (Apparently) Make Me Go "Um."

I zipped in to Sarah's preschool at 5:55 today, right before the $2-per-minute late fees start ticking up (rain, traffic, stupid bridge over stupid lake). She looked at me from the snack table and her lip quivered.

"MAMA was going to pick me up. She SAID so."

"No, hon, that was yesterday. Today Mama has yoga, and then singing. She won't be home till late. It's just you and me, our special evening, together, remember? We're going to go to the Magic Dragon? And then I thought maybe to Fred Meyers."

"No! I don't want to go to Fred Meyers! That will not make me feel better!" She loves Fred Meyers. There's a playroom there with a TV and a playroom lady who dotes on her, and then she gets a free cookie. I didn't think she could possibly mean that.

"I can see you're disappointed," said the Completely Unfamiliar Teacher-like Person sitting next to Sarah. "Your mama's not here, but it sounds like you'll have a fun time with your special friend, huh?"

"Um," I said. "She's, um, my daughter."

"Mmm." She looked so unfazed I thought she hadn't quite heard.

"I'm her mom. Her mommy." Then, just in case she had totally missed the train to Clueville, I elaborated further. "Um. She has two." I actually held up two fingers as a visual aid. Like a little peace sign. Like a lesbian-mom Richard Nixon.

"Got it." To her credit, she didn't make a big deal or fall all over herself with embarrassment that she'd gotten it wrong in the first place. She kept her focus on Sarah, who was by now done snivelling into her oyster crackers and was demanding a story from the teacher-person [who turned out to be a sub, a nice one, I hope she stays around] while I went downstairs to gether her stuff together.

This kind of moment happens less often than you might think. For one thing, this is Seattle, Home of Tolerance [and of lots of queers, not coincidentally]. Also, I have a completely boring life and hardly ever go anyplace where people don't know us already. Home, work, Sarah's childcare, synagogue, Fred Meyers... that about covers it. There was that slightly unnerving border guard incident a few months ago, but that's pretty rare.

Oh, and there was the ER doc at the children's hospital the night Sarah almost put her eye out on the one un-childproofed item in her room [an uncovered screw sticking out of her toddler bed; she was wandering around in the dark and tried to climb back into bed and missed]. After he checked her out he started asking us questions about our household: Who was her mom, oh, both of us, okay; was the biological father involved in her life at all; how often does she see him? We answered because we figured he was trying to suss out whether there might have been any abuse behind Sarah's cut, but when he asked RW how she'd become pregnant, there was a pause and then she asked, "And how is this relevant to Sarah's injury?"

"Oh," he said, not even blushing, "it's not. I'm just curious." We continued our rather cool silence, so he elaborated. "It's just that, well, this is a very unusual family situation, and I was interested." He must have liked the sound of that, because he repeated it. "It's a very unusual situation."

"Not around here," I said, more amused by then than pissed. He excused himself and we never saw him again. He must have said something, though, because the nurse who came in later apologized on his behalf. That was kind of nice.

The best take on that whole episode came from a straight, married teacher at my job. I was telling the story at lunch in the staff room, and hypothesizing that the guy must have been a new intern who'd probably just moved here from somewhere where there was less awareness of lesbian families. "Like where?" she asked. "Under a rock?"

More often, we all just forget I'm not actually biologically related to Sarah. I find myself reading about adoption with no sense of connection; it slips my mind that I'm an adoptive parent myself. It's weird, epecially considering that she and I look absolutely nothing alike, but then she only sort-of looks like RW or her bio-dad, either.

About a year ago, we went out to dinner with my third cousin and his wife, who live across town [hereafter to be referred to somewhat unimaginatively as Daddoc and Momdoc, since both are both high-powered doctors who work all the time]. Their daughters are a few years older than Sarah; she adores them and they dote on her. Us grownups all had a fair bit of wine. Afterwards, the three girls were romping about outside the restaurant. Momdoc--who's a geneticist, in case you were wondering--gazed at them sentimentally and mused, "It's amazing how you can see the family resemblance, even at this remove. Sarah and our girls are, what, fourth cousins?"

"By adoption," I pointed out.

"Adoption!" She looked alarmed. "Who's adopted?"

"Um. Sarah?" I said gently. "By me?"

All of which is by way of explaining why, when Sarah had a meltdown at the end of our Fred Meyers expedition this evening because I wouldn't lift her up into the shopping cart for the third time, and screamed that she hated me and I wasn't her mommy, I felt a pang, but not too much. Just the tiniest suggestion of a fourth cousin of one. Then I marched her to the car on foot like the meanest of mean mommies, and it slunk away into the night.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this. Absolutely.

I have an adopted sister (two really, but only one with offspring) and I keep looking for extended family resemblances in her kids. The extremely funny thing is that I find lots of 'em.


1:06 PM  
Blogger elswhere said...

That's so funny-- people occasionally tell me Sarah and I look alike, which is truly odd. But she has definitely "inherited" several of my characteristics.

7:12 AM  

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