Yesterday, Rowan was the chou chou — or, loosely translated, the “special person” — in his senior kindergarten class. It’s a banner day: the chou chou gets to be first in all lineups, carry the attendance list to the office, and sit in the special chou chou rocking chair during circle time.
The chou chou is also responsible for bringing in a special item from home to discuss at Hide & Tell, an advanced version of Show & Tell in which the chou chou gives hints — in French, no less — to his or her classmates about said special item, and they try to guess what it is.
To be honest, we were utterly unprepared for Rowan’s big day and would have forgotten about it completely had his teacher not wisely left a phone message to remind us the night before. Which meant that we were, once again, scrambling to find something for him to take. And then he suggested that he bring in a photograph of his family. “I want to take a picture of you and Rachel getting married,” he said.
I’m not precisely sure where he got this idea. There are, maybe, a half-dozen blurry photos of our wedding, none of them printed, let alone framed. It was a fraught, mostly bittersweet affair that was too closely linked to my mother’s death to feel festive, and, frankly, no one thought to book a photographer.
What we do have, however, is a framed family photograph from my father’s wedding, a few years later: Rowan is a toddler with the sticky-outy front teeth symptomatic of those with a pacifier addiction, and Isaac, at two months, is a cross between Winston Churchill and Buddha.
Rowan deemed that photo acceptable, and so we wrapped it in tissue paper and stuck it in a bag and he thought up three hints for his peers: “C’est glissante,” he suggested, by which I think he meant that the glass covering the photo was slippery or which may have been Frenglish for glass; “C’est un rectangle,” for the shape of the frame; and, “C’est une chose qu’on prends avec un camera.”
It was only after Rachel and I got home from dropping children off that we had a chance to discuss, somewhat gleefully, that our child was taking in representations of queer family to kindergarten. “I guess the indoctrination's working,” I said.
Just in case anyone was wondering, the school didn't blow up. No child seemed traumatized by the idea of a two-mommy family. No one asked any questions. And when Rachel went to pick up Rowan after school, a bunch of kids -- including the other child-of-two-mommies in the class and one of the Jehovah's Witness little girls -- all played beautifully together the gorgeous sunshine.
Maybe, just maybe, by the time these kids are old enough to go to prom, what Constance McMillen's high school did will seem, everywhere, like the archaic embarrassment it already is.