It was time to start telling people. Probably past time.
There’s a dull pounding in my ears.
I take a breath, and steady myself. As nonchalantly as possible, I say “Yeah, Jaden’s in kindergarten in the fall…”
It’s strange how vividly every time I ever told someone I’m gay flashes before my eyes when I’ve got an even mildly uncomfortable truth to tell. The faux calm, the blurted statement, the waiting for a response.
Among the many things that are ridiculous about this, top of the list would have to be: nobody cares that my son’s doing kindergarten a second time, or thinks it’s a bad idea. Not one parent I’ve told has given me a pitying look, or had anything but genuine support for the move.
Jaden’s the youngest in his class. The pediatric behavioral specialist told me Jaden wouldn’t have qualified for kindergarten in most private schools (who have, I guess, slightly later cutoffs) and that an extra year in K would be a great gift, given where he is right now. The therapist agrees; the learning specialist agrees. Kindergarten has gotten more academic, and this is our culture’s nuttiness, not my kid’s problem. It doesn’t matter that he’s not on grade level. Not one bit. Plus, the magic of the repeat fixes it. He was an immature, ill-prepared almost-first grader, but right on target for kindergarten. Ta-da!
So why such intense feelings? 30 years ago, telling people I was gay was actually a risk. I was generally lucky, but each coming out carried the possibility of rejection. A buddy in high school refused to see me for a year. Straight guys sometimes seemed scared, definitely awkward. A college adviser (a good guy) wondered if I should pursue teaching given the anti-gay laws passing in some states.
But my poor little guy deserves better than my shame. He’s not in any danger. It’s my self worth that’s been tied to being a good student, it shouldn’t be his, whatever kind of student he becomes.
And he’s so very little, we don’t have any idea what kind of student he’ll be. Right now he’s a good ninja fighter, and scooterer. A natural swimmer. An empathetic big-hearted kid. And a very, very prepared incoming kindergartner. We’re out about it. And proud. Wish me luck keeping my stuff out of it.