Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Happy 'Gay' Dad's Day

I've only just calmed down enough to write this - although those of you who follow our adventures on Twitter have already heard most of this already.

I'll recap.

On Friday, after school, I went to collect my youngest son. TJ walked out of school and immediately we were surrounded by children asking me 'Where's TJ's mum?" and "What happened to TJ's mum?"

I was stunned, I wasn't sure what to say or what to do. TJ was distraught and just wanted to go home. I couldn't understand what was going on. I bundled TJ into the car and we left.

As we walked through the door I asked him what that was all about.

He reached into his bag and threw a card at me. A card in pink, shaped as a handbag with small butterflies and pom poms stuck to it. It looked very nice.

"A mother's day card?" I asked, "Did you make that for Granny?"

Every year the boys have celebrated Mothers Day by making cards and buying little gifts for my Mum, then we celebrate the later Mothers' Day, Singapore follows the American one, and the boys do the same for Papa's mum. Its a system that works for us. Until this year.

This year it had all gone wrong.

TJ told me to look inside the card. He was bit sheepish and obviously embarrassed to hand it to me. Inside it read: "Happy Dads Day."

Of course I accepted the sentiment and told TJ what a lovely card it was and then put it on display - ready for his brother to come home...

When things had calmed down I asked TJ if he wanted to make the card for me and Papa. "No', he replied, "I was making it for Granny but Miss said I had to make it for you - so (and this was the bit that really angered me) she told me that as I don't have a mum I couldn't say Happy Mothers Day, I had to write Happy Dads Day... in front of everyone."

He then burst into tears. "But I told her you wouldn't want a pink handbag?" he sobbed.

I was furious. Here was my little boy, coming to terms with being adopted, learning about different families being subjected to complete humiliation in front of his class mates - not to mention how it reflected on Papa and I, obviously all gay dads would love a pink handbag(?!?). I wouldn't have minded if TJ had wanted to make the card for us and had written "To Daddy and Papa on Mothers Day" - or something similar. But this was inexcusable.

Papa and I are adults, we've been called many names and we can put up with the little jokes and the knowing looks across the playground - but this? This was coming directly from school.

TJ went to his school disco and I immediately fired off an angry email to his head teacher.

Yesterday his head teacher grabbed me for a quick chat. Luckily she was incredibly apologetic and was investigating... but for us the damage has already been done.

TJ had a restless weekend and is bed wetting again. I can only keep re-assuring him that everything is ok. This just made me more angry with the teacher.

If the teacher was unsure then surely a simple phone call could have settled the issue.

Its a shame as TJ was beginning to love school - this has set him back but it wont break him. I'm sure it wasn't meant maliciously, at least I hope not, but I think someone needs a training day on what being inclusive and diverse actually means.

On the plus side we did talk about what we should say when people ask abut his family. Did he want me to say he was adopted - was I allowed to tell his friends.

He thought about it. "Yes," he said, "But only if they ask."

That's fine with me.


4 comments:

  1. Awful, just awful.....what's wrong with these people? It doesn't take much clout to understand the bigger picture. Big hugs x

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  2. Such a strange response from teacher! Even when I was a kid, 30 years ago, we were always encouraged to make cards for all our special ladies on Mother's Day, and on Father's day, all our special men. We were also encouraged to make several cards if we wanted, so most children had cards for grandparents etc. and those who didn't have the mum/dad combo at home weren't made to feel different. I did the same when I was teaching. Even if the teacher hadn't come across a 2-dad family before, surely she's come across single parent families where alternative options might be needed on such a sensitive day? Brutal - I'm sorry this happened.

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  3. I remember exactly the same thingf Suddenly Mummy - we made cards for our Mum or a special lady in our lives. I know of one poor child who recently lost her mother, her father is coping, just. But imagine if this had happened to his little girl. It doesn't bear thinking about. Its a dreadful situation and I agree Peter it could so easily have been avoided.

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  4. I agree it is totally unforgivable. The school have made an issue where there really need not have been one. TJ should have been allowed to make his card for ever he wished whether it be you, papa, or any other relative. As a teacher I have always encouraged children to make a special card for someone who does special things for them ans explain its a time to thank someone who looks after us and gives us love 'like" a mum whether that be auntie, big sister, grandma, step mum.... and if they want to make more than one card fine!

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