Monthly Archives: January 2013

Comfort Food

Holiday Dinner

On Saturday morning, the boys had waffles for breakfast. Andrew really likes pancakes and waffles, in part because we let him practice using a knife. Neither of the boys has great fine motor control, so practicing with a knife is a lot of work for him, and it just doesn’t always go the way he wants.

This was especially the case with his waffles.

I’m not entirely sure how it happened. I know that I couldn’t reproduce it if you gave me a hundred waffles on which to try. Before Andrew managed to take a single bite of his waffle, before any portion of it was cut from the whole, his waffle was somehow airborne. It flipped end over end, almost in slow motion, and plummeted toward the floor.

It did not hit the floor, of course, because the world’s happiest dog caught it and swallowed it in one triumphant gulp. She waits under the table at every meal, because she is no fool. She knows where food falls. But a whole waffle? This was no accident. Buffy was certain that Andrew had given her the greatest gift a child can give to a dog.

So the humans are all silent for a moment, taken aback by the sight of a flying waffle. But Buffy knows what you do when someone does something nice for you, so she trots over to Andrew to thank him. Her tail is wagging so far from side to side that her entire back half is waving with it, and she rests her head on his lap.

Part of Andrew knows that this is funny. But another part of him is certain that he has LOST HIS WAFFLE FOREVER. He’s trying to hold back his tears, but it’s a struggle. There’s a sharp intake of air after every word.

“I <gasp!> know <gasp!> that <gasp!> you <gasp!> didn’t <gasp!> mean <gasp!> to <gasp!> take <gasp!> my <gasp!> waffle, <gasp!> Buffy! But <gasp!> I <gasp!> really <gasp!> wanted <gasp!> to <gasp!> eat <gasp!> that.”

Once Austin and I were able to stop laughing long enough to reassure Andrew that we would replace the waffle, everything returned to normal pretty quickly. But Buffy, who usually thinks Jordan is a more reliable source of food, has been standing a lot closer to Andrew at meals now.

Food can still be sort of fraught for my kids. It’s better now than it used to be. Usually it’s safe to mention food in front of Jordan these days. A couple of years ago, if you mentioned food outside of mealtime — “I think I’ll make spaghetti for supper today” or “What’s your favorite food?” — it was likely to trigger epic crying and screaming. The idea of food was just too much. Too powerful.

It still holds a certain power. Last week, I had a call from the psychologist at Andrew’s school. He had been late getting to class a couple of days in a row, because he was in the cafeteria eating breakfast.

A few times this year, Andrew has taken it upon himself to buy breakfast after I take him to school. His lunch money is on an account with the school, so if he buys two meals instead of one, we won’t notice until he runs out of money sooner than we expect.

The first time he started buying breakfast, it was a conversation.

“Are you hungry when you get to school? You have breakfast at home every morning, and you bring a snack to have in the morning.”

No, not hungry.

“Would you rather have breakfast at school instead of at home?”

No, he hates the idea of waiting until he’s at school to eat.

“Ok, so then you’ll eat breakfast at home, and not at school. You really don’t need to buy breakfast at school.”

The second time he started eating breakfast at school, we had the same conversation. Not hungry, not willing to wait for breakfast. Great, then stop buying breakfast. We eat when we’re hungry. If you’re hungry, let me know, and we’ll get you more food.

The third time he started buying breakfast, he realized he could eat slowly, and then saunter into class fifteen minutes late. It’s hard to blame the teachers in the cafeteria for letting him be late. They assume, and I suspect it’s usually a good assumption, that kids who are buying breakfast probably need that breakfast.

So this time I spoke to the teachers in the cafeteria. They had suspected something was unusual — most kids buy breakfast more regularly than my son, and most of them don’t wait until their parents are out of sight to buy it. I had kind of hoped that it was something he’d be able to manage — Dad told me not to buy breakfast, so I won’t buy breakfast. — but it looks like he needs some adult assistance to stop himself.

A couple of weeks ago, we went to a Bar Mitzvah for one of Austin’s cousins. We had a good time, and it’s always nice to see Austin’s extended family, who are fantastic. But despite warnings that it was almost time to leave, both kids were in tears as we went out the doors. Jordan was crying because … well, because there was a transition, and we always cry at transitions.

Andrew, though, was upset about two things:

  1. Austin and I were irresponsible parents, and we had let him eat too much, and now his tummy hurt.
  2. Austin and I also were mean parents, and would not let him have any more ice cream.

I tried to explain that those were really mutually exclusive things to be upset about, but you can imagine that kind of argument doesn’t have much weight.

On the Passing of Time

My Love

About a week from now, Austin and I will be celebrating our tenth anniversary. (Our before-we-could-get-married anniversary, that is.) Well, if I’m honest, we probably won’t be celebrating. If we manage to remember that it’s our anniversary (which we haven’t managed to do even once yet!) we’ll be too busy recuperating from a weekend with a Bar Mitzvah in Austin’s family and a wedding in my family. At least it’s a long weekend.

We’re not big on celebrations, though. Every time I go to a wedding, I find myself thinking, “This is nice. I’m glad we didn’t do this.” I’ve sometimes wondered if my self-consciousness is a product of internalized homophobia. Austin and I don’t kiss in public, or hold hands. Not like it’s a rule or anything. If he’s been on a long trip, I’ll hug him at the airport. But we’re certainly not showy.

And that’s fine. I come from a family that doesn’t show emotion. My best friend recently told me how uncomfortable she was at my grandfather’s funeral. My family sat, pretty stone-faced, and she felt like a professional mourner, wailing at the back of the church. A few folks who have married into my family have expressed similar sentiments, so I know she’s not alone. But Austin has never said it. I think we’re the same that way.

I have occasionally felt a little jealous of people who wear their emotions on their sleeves. Couples who are affectionate in a genuine way in public. Maybe jealous is too strong of a word, and curious would be more appropriate. I’ve wondered what it would be like to be that kind of person.

Austin and I don’t have a ton of gay friends, at least not any that we see regularly. I have lots of gay friends from college, but our interactions are mostly limited to facebook these days. And I have a bunch of gay friends in my Warcraft guild, too, people whose presence I value greatly, but I don’t run into any of them at the grocery store or at preschool drop off out here in the ‘burbs. What this means is that I’ve put a little extra value on some of the gay couples I do know. I feel like we’re all in a similar boat.

It makes me a little sad, then, to look around and see fewer boats in our little ocean. In the last couple of years, a lot of the gay couples I know have gone their separate ways. Ten years is a long time. People change, and their lives go in different directions. There have been plenty of times that I’ve wanted to throw Austin overboard. I know that he’s felt the same way, because it is a lot easier to be married to Austin than it is to be married to me. There’s no comparison. (I’m done with the boat metaphors now. I promise.)

I don’t want to talk about my friends’ divorces, because they are really none of my business, but I’m sure there must be an extra layer of disappointment when a long term gay relationship ends. There are a whole lot of negative messages out there about gay people and our relationships, and our ability to have and commit to healthy relationships. Yes, we all know those messages are garbage, but that doesn’t mean we don’t hear them. Alvin Lopez-Woods wrote a great piece about his divorce that was on Huffington Post last week.

I don’t want to say that Austin and I are doing something right, not just because that seems like a surefire way to bring a process server to my door with divorce papers, but also because I don’t imagine we’re doing anything differently from most other couples. We’re just lucky, I think.

So this week I feel pretty lucky.