Friday, May 31, 2013

Step Up

Today was the last day of the school year. It is with mixed emotions that I heralded its arrival.

On the one hand it marks accomplishments: Gus thrived academically - nailing all four book reports with perfect 100 scores, acing all but 2 spelling tests, and mastering long division; while Niko showed promise in mathematics and gained some understanding of reading.

As a final school event, we watched each class "step up" to the next grade. The boys were promoted to fifth and first grades. Hard to believe.

Of course, on the other hand, today marks the beginning of summer. And that means I'm stuck with them until September!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Get a DNA Test

One afternoon when I was 7 or 8, my brother John came into our bedroom to find me doing time for some infraction. No doubt I was innocent, a victim of unjust parents. Anyway, John took one look at me and asked me if I wanted to know a secret about being punished. A secret? Did I!

He proceeded to tell me that I didn't actually have to stay in my room. What, after all, was the point of having a water meter directly under our bedroom window if not to serve as a stepping stone to freedom?

A few days later I once again found myself incarcerated. No doubt again a victim of a gross miscarriage of justice. However, this time I knew exactly what to do. As soon as my dad shut my bedroom door, I opened the window, hoisted my little body up, and dangled my legs out of the window reaching for the water meter and freedom.

But I didn't feel the water meter. I felt something entirely different: my dad's hand firmly on my butt - shoving me back through the window with a single powerful push.

For my attempted escape, my sentence was lengthened. During my interrogation, I didn't rat John out. I didn't have to. Our dad knew exactly from whom I'd learned that trick. So  I didn't serve alone. Less than 5 minutes after my re-incarceration John showed up, angry at my stupidity of not waiting a few minutes and not making sure the coast was clear before attempting escape.

So imagine my surprise when I was working in the backyard the other day and discovered this:
Yeah, of course it's Niko. I think John needs to get a DNA test.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

We Interrupt This Program (Part 2)

I try to make sure there are a couple of days between posts, but we had some excitement at our house very early this morning.

Athena has always mewed as soon as she sees one of us is awake. It's her charming way of letting us know she's ready to eat. But ever since Apollo went on his adventure, Athena has been unusually vocal. Every time we pass her she mews rather pathetically. Whether she's saying, "Where's Apollo?" or "Can I get some more food" is up to interpretation, but she's been really, loudly, vocal.

This morning at 3:00 a.m. she was mewing at the door to our bedroom. It was loud enough to wake both of us up. Now we're not about to get into the habit of running to the kitchen to get her a bite to eat every time she bellows. But it was really persistent. So I told Kelly to bring her into bed, where she could get some reassurance and loving.

He gently called out to her.  Coaxed her. And then said, "Holy shit," as he handed me Apollo! Our prodigal son had returned! He's a little thin and dirty but doesn't seem any worse for the wear.
The mewing was so loud that it woke Gus, who was excited and happy beyond belief at Apollo's return. Kelly and I immediately reminded him that the cat goes where the cat goes, and the plan he had been hatching to tie the poor thing up to keep him around wasn't ever to go into effect.

All the commotion woke a delighted Niko, who - when the dust settled - decided he needed to sleep in our bed with us. That means I didn't get any sleep at all.

Stupid cat.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Like the Wind

Iasus, an ancient king of Arcadia, wanted a son. So when his daughter Atalanta was born, he left the infant girl on a mountain top to die. Instead of perishing, she was suckled by a bear, and thrived - growing up to become the greatest hunter of all.

After helping to save her kingdom from a boar ravaging the countryside, Atalanta and her father were reunited. Realizing that she was a better boy than he could ever have imagined, he promptly demanded that she get married.
Atalanta, who wasn't too keen on the idea of being married, announced each suitor would challenge her to a running race - the guy who bested her would be her husband. Those who lost would be killed.  Man after man fell to Atalanta's superior speed. That is until a fellow Arcadian, Hippomenes convinced the goddess Aphrodite to help him cheat.

The goddess of love gave Hippomenes three charmed apples that would make Atalanta slow down. The fruit was irresistible, so each time Atalanta was ahead, Hippomenes would roll an apple by her, she'd swoop to eat it and he'd run by. 

Thus Hippomenes won the race and married Atalanta.

So why the lesson in mythology? Well, last Saturday the boys' school held it's annual 5K race.

 The men's 40-49 division was dominated by a son of Arcadia - me. 

I'd like to say that in my veins flows the blood of the mighty Atalanta. But like Hippomenes, I had my own golden apples.  In my case, there were no other entrants in my age group.
The victor being congratulated by Gus, who finished 3rd in his age division and 19th over his dad's 20th place.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Come Back, Lilttle Sheba

Apollo the cat has gone missing.

Sometime Friday he went out on an adventure, and he hasn't returned.  The boys go from moments of sheer panic to complete nonchalance.

Me? Well I keep reminding myself I never wanted the damn cat in the first place.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Total Stranger

Today's Mother's Day. It's always a little awkward for us. Before they went to Saint Sophia the details of the observance could be a little stressful: it seemed like teachers weren't exactly sure how to broach the subject with us. But at Saint Sophia and in their Sunday School classes it's never been an issue. The teachers simply ask the boys for whom they wish to make a present and that's that.

Well yesterday we were driving in the car and I mentioned we still needed to get my mom something for Mother's Day. After a pause, Niko piped up and asked, "When are we going to get to see our mom?" I didn't know what to say. I tried to think of a carefully crafted comment, but the best I could come up with was, "Maybe some day when you're older."

That's when Gus added, "I don't want to see her. I don't want to go and spend time with someone, who is a complete stranger."

I didn't have a response.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Just Trying to be a Decent Human Being

As a PR professional, I've sent literally thousands of pitches to journalists all around the world.  I've always tried really hard to make sure that my pitches are appropriately targeted to the correct reporters.

Because of my column, I am now listed on Cision - a compendium of tens of thousands of reporters, columnists, and editors at publications, blogs, and websites around the world. This means that PR people can now pitch me. Sweet Baby Jesus.

Apparently, my anal retentive, A-type personality isn't shared by my fellow PR professionals. Of the two dozen or so pitches I've received over the past two weeks, none of them has been  spot on. And only 2-3 have been slightly appropriate. It's very clear they didn't take the time to read a column or two before sending me their news releases.

Thus far I've heard a lot about fashion. I'm assuming I get these because I'm listed under an LGBT publication. I had to tell the Fashion Institute twice that I'm really not interested in its summer camp. Can anyone see my kids in NYC, by themselves, studying fashion?

My favorite was the pitch (heralded as just in time for Mother's Day) suggesting I examine why African American moms are struggling. Yes, I think that this is a very important topic but not really a fit for a column about two gay dads. We kind of ignore Mother's Day at our house.

As I've gotten these pitches, I'm reminded of something Mark Ververka, who writes for Barron's, told me. Mark and I were pals when I lived in San Francisco, and he was getting literally hundreds of pitches every week by email and phone. He said he tried to reply to everyone or talk to them for a minute on the phone, just to be a decent human being.

Thus far I've replied to every single pitch I've received. I've even suggested to the woman pitching book reviews that I think highlighting a few kids books that are about same gender parents would make a great column - I even gave her some examples.

So why am I doing this? Like Mark, I'm just trying to be a decent human being. Thank God, I passed on providing Cision with my telephone number!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Double Digits

I can barely believe what I am about to write is true: Today is Gus's birthday. He's 10 years old. A decade. Double digits.

Every detail of the moment I heard he was about to make me a father is perfectly preserved in my memory: receiving a call from our social worker telling me we had been matched with a healthy baby boy, calling Kelly to tell him, and then calling Teresa, my work wife, and bellowing, "WE'VE BEEN MATCHED! WE'RE GETTING A BABY!"

The first time we laid eyes on him he was in a Johnny Jumper at his foster mom Shirley's house.  I remember thinking - like all babies - he looked like an old man. Now - FLASH - he's 10.

That little baby I used to carry in a backpack, now hits me just shy of my shoulder.

I am so proud of the young man he's becoming. The kid who sticks up for his brother (most of the time). The guy, who finds a friend in every new acquaintance. The athlete, who has so much heart. The comedian, who laughs so hard at Jack Black and Pink Panther movies that he literally falls to the ground guffawing.  The romeo, who gets all giggly and denies a bit too strongly any attraction when a particular girl is mentioned. The son, who loves nothing more than going on a run with his dad.

As he enters his second decade, I realize that some of our most trying and difficult years are approaching.  But I want to remind myself that the man he'll become is going to be awesome. He always has been.