Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Truth and Consequences

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Truth and Consequences

Article excerpt

He is 8 now--my son--the tiny five-pound bundle that fit in the crook of my pudgy forearm. He has a trendy haircut and favorite clothes now--he's concerned about looking cool. We had his birthday party at Jeepers! a kiddie Las Vegas--like palace in the mall. He and his friends were all juiced up on cotton candy and coins--tokens, actually. They all needed more tokens. It was clear that school had ended and the summer begun.

He did first grade twice, my boy. He went in too early, in hindsight. I tortured myself when the teacher suggested it--proof of my inferior parenting ability. It is always about me. Good God, I thought, to be "left back" was such a trauma in the '70s. I remember the boy we had in third grade who was supposed to be in fourth grade but wasn't. Todd was his name. He used to Scotch-Tape thumbtacks--with the points out--to a Spalding ball and then throw it at your head with all his might. Todd scared me. He still does, in fact. So much so that "Todd" is not his real name--it's made-up--on the off chance that they get The Advocate in maximum security facilities.

I followed the teacher's advice in my son's case. But, since we moved out to the burbs after my show ended, he changed schools and started out as a fresh first-grader again. Still, he wasn't happy about it. "I already did first grade, Mom."

"Yes," I lied, "but in the country, if you're 7 [which he was], you have to be in first grade."

He squinted his left eye almost shut, jutted his button nose at me, and stared.

My lie worked for a while, but eventually he figured it out. By that time, though, he was in love with his new teacher and it didn't matter so much.

On my 41st birthday he told me, "Mama, I know why you lied about the first-grade do-over, but from now on I can take the truth."

"OK," I promised. "Only the truth." Then we got stuck in traffic on the Tappan Zee Bridge, and he wanted to know what was causing the backup. …

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