Sunday, April 7, 2013

First grade with a little help from Gaga. by Joey Spinelli

As soon as I become a parent, I was already thinking about getting my kid on the wait list for the best public schools in the city. I remember when I was heating up bottles in my kitchen, I would be reading Phoenix Magazine and scanning through the top 50 schools in Arizona.  Every year, I made sure to get that issue and the one with the top 50 doctors in town.  The doctor choice was easy.  I just looked at the physicians that participated in our health care plan, and cross-referenced them one at a time with the doctors on the list.  I only had to go down to doc number 3 and that one was on my health plan.  Score!

Schools, however, are much harder.  
Even if you find the perfect school scholastically, it could be years before you get in.  That’s why it’s so important to plan ahead.  
When the time came for grade school, we knew which school we wanted.  Preferred School was our first choice for many reasons.  First, it was a traditional type of school with homework at night, tests on Fridays and uniforms for the students.  Second, the school was just built a year earlier, so that made me feel like everything inside would be new to my kid.  It was also one of the best schools in the state as far as grades.  An “A” in all categories.
We called and had the school send over the paperwork for the enrollment for the next year and we put our child on the waitlist.  
On the forms it asks for “Mothers Name” and “Fathers Name”.  It annoys me when companies want that.  I hate that in this day and age they assume everyone has a mother and a father that they live with.  I always cross out both those phrases and put “Parent 1” and Parent 2”.  Then I proceeded to put both our names for parents and its obvious from our names that we are both strong, strapping men.  Ok, that we are both men at least. 

I remember talking to my partner about the paperwork right before we sent it to the school.  He asked if I thought they would put us at the back of the list because our boy had two gay dads,  I said, nah, if these people have any brains at all, they will just accept us ahead of all the other kids because he has two gay dads!  We both laughed it off, but part of me was having the same doubts.

I have read many times that the biggest problem schools and teachers have are the parents of the children. Are there many gay parents at this school?  
If so, how do they compare to the straight parents?  
Are they easier to deal with or are they just complete crazies?  
Sure, it is somewhat well know that gay parents dress better than straight parents, drive cooler SUVs, and are always ready to offer redecorating tips to make the classroom run more productively. But, if a school really was to realize that they had a child with two gay parents, would they knowingly make a change in that kids place in line, either for better or worse? 

My partner works at a major company here in town and quite a few of the girls he works told him they were on the wait list for the very same school, and had been for some time.  
We knew we may not get in before first grade but we thought we would take a chance anyway.
Well, a few months before 1st grade was scheduled to start, we got a call from the school saying that our boy would make it for first grade.  
Wow.  How exciting!  This was great news.  I shared it with the rest of my family.  
I had never seen the school before so the very next day I got in my car and drove over there just to get a feel for the facility.  
It was absolutely a work of art.  The school was less than a year old, a complete new style contemporary building with artistic flair, new playgrounds, ball fields.
And then, there it was, right across the street was a house with a huge gay flag waiving in the wind.  It was like a sign, a sign from Lady Gaga herself!.  
This was just meant to be.

My partner started asking around at work and we would soon find out that none of those other kids got into the school.  They were all still on the waitlist.  They had been on it since well before we even heard about the school.  I thought that was odd but I was just happy that my kid was chosen. 

Once school started, I had to take my kid to school every day and pick him up.  This school does not have busses, even though it’s a city school.  
At pick up every day, I would get there 15 minutes early and I started making friends with the other moms who were there to pick up their kids.  They were all very nice and they all knew that my boy had two dads from their kids telling them.  
I guess when you go to first grade, one of the projects is to tell the class about your family.  
My kid shared with the class that he has two dads, 
over 100 boxes of cereal in the pantry from couponing,
and that we have a miniature schnauzer.  
The moms would tell me stuff  like, we love that you two are raising a child, or has your son been to a gay pride parade? 
What?  Really?  Who am I, Jack McFarland?  I explained to them that no, we don’t have time to be gay, we are too busy being parents.

I came to learn a lot about my new mom friends.  For instance, they all talked about their husbands constantly, and not always in a good way.  They all loved to drink, often.  They were all stay at home moms and they all had sent their kids to the same tutor.  I eventually started using that same tutor and I must say, she is awesome.  Even she knows that my boy has two dads.  She has been very great to both of us. 

So, first grade is now almost over.  It was a fascinating year for my boy and for both my partner and I.  To date, I have yet to have any parent or school employee give me a second look when I bring my kid to school every day.  
Nobody has asked me any strange questions about why my kid doesn’t have a mother nor has anyone tried to throw their bible at me.  
I really feel like it just doesn’t make a difference to any of these people.  I know that’s naive to think that they really feel that way but that’s the impression I get.  Still, it is curious that we made it into this school the first year we applied.   
Maybe being gay dads does make a difference after all! 

"Who am I? That’s simple. I am a gay parent that’s treated like a second class
citizen and I am done taking it. 
Every day I am in the battlefields, in my kid’s school, PTA meetings, swim team, birthday parties with
other parents and I am forcing people to meet me.
Every day I stand right next to them and even if it’s just in my mind, I say “ Look at me will you! I am a gay man, right in front of you. 
I have a partner of 8 years and a 6r old boy. 
My kid is in your kid’s class and will be for the next 11 years. 
I am not going away so now would be as good a time as any to accept me and everything that comes with me."
Joe also blogs at 1 regular joe

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