Zoo? Yes. Animals? Maybe.

Me: “Do you guys want to go to the zoo?”

B&S: “YEAH!!!!!!!”

Me: “What animals should we see?”

Bennett: “No gorillas.”

Me: “No gorillas?”

Bennett: “No.  Because it’s scary.”

Me: “OK then, no gorillas.”

Sutton: “Daddy, can I see the gorillas?”

Me: “Sure.”

Sutton (hysterical): “NO!!!  The gorillas are scary!!!”

Me: “Wait, calm down.  No one has to see the gorillas if they don’t want to.”

Bennett: “I want see gorillas!”

Me: “You said you didn’t.”

Bennett: “No.  Because it’s scary.”

Me: “But now you want to see them, even though they’re scary?”

Bennett: “Yes.”

Me: “Sure, Bennett.  You can see the gorillas.”

Sutton: “Daddy?  Daddy?  Daddy?  When Bennett sees the gorillas, can I see the lizards?”

Me: “The lizards aren’t scary?”

Sutton: “No, they’re nice.”

Me: “Then sure.  You can see the lizards.”

Sutton: “OK, but I don’t want to go in them.”

Me: “What do you mean ‘in them’?”

Sutton: “I want to see the lizards, but I don’t want to go inside the lizards.”

Me: “OK, I promise we won’t go inside the lizards.”

Sutton: “OK.”

Me: “What about the gorillas?  Do you want to see them?”

Sutton: “Yes.”

[As for going "inside" the lizards, I'm not sure, but I think she was thinking of this iPad game we've been playing:]

Our Little Hit Man

Sometimes, there’s no mistaking the fact that my children are being raised by two gay men, like when we go to Barnes & Noble and the first thing they want to do is jump up on the kiddie stage and belt out the new Madonna song.  “L-U-V!  Madonna!”

It’s happened more than once.

It’s not like we encourage it.  Maybe they were born that way.

Still, we weren’t too surprised when we took them to the park and they made a raised platform into a stage for their latest singing and dancing extravaganza.

“Y-O-U!  You wanna!”

What did surprise us was how we ended up in the emergency room twenty minutes later.

It all happened very fast.  Sutton stepped in front of Bennett, Bennett got annoyed and, like Nomi Malone in Showgirls (a reference they will surely come to appreciate someday), he gave Sutton a very deliberate and fateful shove.

Drew and I both saw her fall, but she was just out of our diving distance.  We dove anyway, and then we heard it…

THUNK.

More than the horrifying image of Sutton tumbling head-first off the “stage”, what I’ll remember most is the sound.  My daughter’s skull against the hard brick walkway below it.

THUNK.

Then, a scream.  The scream started instantly, which I knew was a good sign from when we were afraid Bennett had a concussion.  There was no debating, though.  This merited a trip to the ER.

I raced back to our minivan with our hysterical daughter in my arms.  I tried to feel her legs.  Were they moving?  Did she react when I touched them?  Geez, was I crazy for having such horrific thoughts?  The fall had uprooted significant chunks of her hair, which were coming out in my hands, covered in tears and snot.

Thankfully, though, no blood.  Everyone says head injuries bleed an unfathomable amount.  How was it that she was not bleeding at all?

It had been a huge fall.  Drew and I both guessed it was about two and a half feet, roughly the entire length of her fragile little body.  It was bad.

I sat on the floor of the van, holding Sutton’s hand, as Drew sped down the Bronx River Parkway.  We knew just how to get to the hospital because it had only been two weeks since Bennett was there.  Our second trip in less than a month for a possible concussion.  We fully expected a social worker to interrogate us in a dimly lit room.

After about ten minutes, Sutton calmed down.  I wiped her nose and dried her tears.  I tucked the loose strands of hair into the seatback pocket so she wouldn’t see them and panic.  She was moving all her limbs, and she said her head didn’t hurt now.

“Bennett pushed me off the stage,” she said, over and over.  She didn’t seem angry.  She was just recounting the story, the way she might say, “I saw four gooses” or “My donut was chocolate” after a happier trip out of the house.

I reassured her anyway.  “It was an accident.  Right, Bennett?”

Right?

The truth was, I couldn’t be sure.  Bennett had been going through a hitting phase.  Mostly, he hit the wall or his highchair tray when he was angry about something.  Sometimes, he hit his sister or me.

How did this happen to my kids?  They loved each other.  They were best friends.  They spontaneously held hands all the time.  How could one purposely do something that would land the other in the hospital?

Now Bennett was complaining.  He didn’t like being stuck in the ER.  He didn’t like the TV shows that were playing.  He was hungry.  I took him for a walk, but he didn’t like the big fish tank in the children’s hospital lobby.  He wanted to leave.

So I took him to the minivan, strapped him in his seat and closed the doors.  He thought I was taking him home, but the truth was I brought him here so I could yell at him at the volume I felt the situation demanded.

“YOU HURT YOUR SISTER!  DON’T YOU REALIZE THAT’S WHY WE’RE AT THE HOSPITAL?  WE’RE LUCKY SHE ISN’T HURT MUCH WORSE!  NONE OF US WANT TO BE HERE, BUT YOU’D BETTER STOP COMPLAINING BECAUSE IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT!”

This failed to calm him down.

Four hours later, the doctor sent us home.  Sutton was fine.  No concussion, barely even a bump at the point of impact.

Drew and I have driven past the park since then, and we’ve revised our estimates downward.  The fall was closer to a foot and a half, if that.  Maybe we overreacted due to the circumstances.  Maybe the horror of the moment was bigger than just the fall.  We needed a doctor to calm us.  We needed to hear that our little girl wasn’t so badly hurt, but we also wanted to believe that our little boy wasn’t really so bad.

It wasn’t long ago that both kids were completely baffled by violence.  Now, however it happened, it’s part of our lives.

The kids have learned from the experience, but so far, not the lessons we might’ve hoped.  Mostly, they’ve learned that if you get hurt, your dads freak out and take you to the hospital, where they let you eat chocolate chip cookies from the cafeteria.  Bennett will trip and fall in the living room, then announce, “I’m hurt.  I need to go to the hospital.”

He still hits.  We’re working on it.  We’ve tried time outs.  We’ve tried rewarding him with YouTube videos if he can go all day without hitting.  We read him kiddie propaganda books like “Hands are Not For Hitting” to get the message across.

It wasn’t such a severe hit at the park that day.  They never are.  He doesn’t have the strength.  His hands are tiny and soft like cotton swabs.  He swats with them, and half the time when he takes a swing at you, he misses altogether.  When he does it, you want to laugh.

We don’t laugh, though.  Those tiny, meek little swipes he takes can have quite an impact.

UPDATE: Be sure to check out Drew’s response in the comment section.  Also, Drew pointed out to me that the kids weren’t singing the Madonna song that day.  They were actually singing “I Want to Rock” from Yo Gabba Gabba, another favorite of theirs.

The Two Mr. Skip-Its

In our house, a dog blanket is a boy’s best friend.

When our kids were born, someone (thank you, whoever you were) bought them each security blankets.  They’re tiny, soft squares of fabric with plush heads growing inexplicably out of one corner.  They’re freaks of babydom, neither stuffed animal nor legitimate bedding, but when our kids need some comfort, they’re the next best thing to Daddy.

Sutton’s is a rabbit, whom we creatively named Mrs. Bunny.  Bennett’s is a sailor dog whose hat says “Skip-It”.  So we called him “Mr. Skip-It”.  (Maybe this is why they’re not very creative with naming.)

Mrs. B and Mr. S are indispensable around our house.  They sleep with the kids, they ride in the car with them.  They would eat with them, too, but we got tired of having to sponge out the pureed carrot stains, so now during meals, the blankets sit in the “VIP section” (Very Important Pets), where they can watch Bennett & Sutton eat from well outside splashing range.

There’s something our kids don’t know, though… a wicked secret Drew and I have kept from them:

Their special blankets aren’t quite as special as they think.

We were worried what might happen if either Mrs. Bunny or Mr. Skip-It ever got lost, so we bought a few extras.  We keep them tucked away in a high drawer the kids can’t reach.

I know where you think this is headed, but when we’ve occasionally swapped in the new ones, the kids didn’t notice any difference, even though they were bright, stain-free and actually smelled like fresh linen rather than messy kid.

Ha… suckers!

Now that our little blanket lovers are a little older, they’re not quite as attached as they used to be.  They’ll drop their beloved blankets around the house, lose them in the couch cushions or under their cribs.  When they want them, though, they still really want them, which means we end up searching everywhere to track them down.

One day last week at bedtime, Mr. Skip-It was M.I.A.  It was getting late and the kids were cranky, so finally, we distracted Bennett and pulled out a backup.  Drew tore our tiny house apart for an hour that night looking for the original, to no avail.  He finally gave up.

The next afternoon, while the kids were playing, I was in the kitchen when I heard Bennett shout, “Two Mr. Skip-Its!”  I ran into the living room, and sure enough, the jig was up.

I was totally busted.  My innocent little boy knew the dark truth: his daddies had been fooling him.  His one-of-a-kind toy was as mass produced as an Alvin & the Chipmunks figurine from a Happy Meal.  I waited for him to lash out, to question what else was real, to have his first existential tantrum.

But incredibly, he just went back to playing.

“Wow, two Skip-Its,” I said, playing dumb.  “That’s pretty cool.”  At the first opportunity, I snuck one of them away and put it back in the drawer.  Whew!  Close call.

I thought it was the end of the story.

Late that night, Bennett woke up crying.  When he does this, it’s usually because he rolled away from Mr. Skip-It in his sleep and now he can’t find him in the dark.  So Drew went in to reunite them and get the boy back to sleep.

But this time, Bennett had Mr. Skip-It at his side, as usual.  Drew asked him what was wrong.

Bennett looked up at him and cried, “I want two Mr. Skip-Its!”

UPDATE: Drew has a better memory than I do.  He pointed out that Mr. Skip-It and Mrs. Bunny were the generous gifts of Doron Ofir, whom he used to work with in LA.  Doron’s prior claim to fame is having discovered the cast of “Jersey Shore”.  Snooki and Skip-It – a pretty solid track record, if you ask me.  Thanks, Doron!

It’s a Wonder You Can Walk: Why Me No Wuvvy Baby Talk

Do you talk to your kids wike dis?  “Come on, Poopie Pie, open yuh moufy-woufy ’cause da choo-choo’s dewivvering some yummies fwum Taterville!”?

If so, I have a confession to make:

I want to punch you in the face.

Or, to put it in terms you can understand, “Me wanna give big booboo to da poopyhead!”

OK, that was a little harsh.  Me not really wanna give you big booboo, although you are definitely a poopyhead.  What I really want to do is to explain to you calmly and rationally why you’re an enemy of the human race.  You’re Kim Jong Unbearable.  So sit down, grab your binky or your foofoo or whatever the hell you call it and listen up.  ‘Kay, Sweetums?

Baby talk is child abuse.  Worse, even, because it hurts everyone within earshot.  It demeans us as a species.  Every time you say “moo-cow” or “goo goo gaga“, you help the apes rise one more rung up the ladder to overtake us.

I’ve never used baby talk on my kids.  For starters, I don’t have time to learn a new language.  My kids never drank a “baba“.  They drank bottles.  And those bottles contained milk, not “moo juice“.

I was never “Da-da“, always “Daddy”.  It’s not that much harder to say, and it’s so much more satisfying to hear.  “Da-da” could mean anything.  “Dance-dance”, “dazzle-dazzle”, “Dag Hammarskjöld-Dag Hammarskjöld”.

I won’t even add that cutesy “y” to the end of animal names, like “doggy” or “piggy” or “ducky” or “froggy” — geez, it’s not even creative.  You may think those kinds of minor tweaks are sweet and harmless, but as far as I’m concerned, you might as well be teaching your kids Klingon.  Made-up words aren’t doing them any good, and they’re just going to have to unlearn them at some point if they want to function in society.  Snoop Dogg was in his 30s before he finally dropped the Doggy from his name.  It’s a hard habit to break.

“Oh, but it’s cute,” people will say.  “I wuv when wittle Jillsy-Willsy tells me she has a boo-boo that needs Mommy’s magic smoochies to make it awl bettuh.”  Well, between you and me, Jillsy-Willsy sounds like an idiot, and so do you.  Personally, I find my kids cute enough without them talking like mental patients.  Of course, I don’t know Jillsy-Willsy.  Maybe she can use the boost.

When Bennett was in the hospital, we had a nurse who used some of the most egregious baby talk I’ve ever heard.  Bennett had come to fear the nurses, because they were the ones sticking needles in his arm.  When this particular lady leaned over his bed, she assured him, “Don’t you worry, baby!  I just need to check your pulsy-wulsy.  You won’t get any hurties from me!”

I swear the kid looked at me like, “What’s wrong with her?”

Caution: This face could be a sign that you're losing them.

C’mon, lady.  How is my kid supposed to know what you mean when your entire vocabulary comes straight out of your ass?

People who think they need to talk down to kids are using the same logic tourists use when they go to a foreign country and believe they can break through the language barrier simply by raising their voice.  “EXCUSE ME, MONSIEUR, BUT DONDE ESTA THE BATHROOM AT?!!!  BATHROOM?  FLUSHY-FLUSHY???”

As if baby talk isn’t confusing enough in itself, the perpetrators make their words even less intelligible by purposely mispronouncing them.  “Aw, what a sweet wittle guy!”  Wittle?  Do you think that’s charming?  We’ll see how charming it is when Caleb comes home with a broken nose because he told his buddies on the Wittle Weague team he had to make a tinky-tink in the potty.  Ever heard of speech therapy?  Kids spend years – YEARS! – trying to overcome impediments like the one you’re practically forcing down your child’s throat.

I know.  I’m wasting my time.  It’s not like I can expect this message to get through to the baby-talkers themselves.  I didn’t include nearly enough ooh-oohs and wah-wahs in this essay to hold their interest.

So let me speak instead to the poor, unfortunate children trapped in their care:

Hello, young person.

I’m sure your parents love you very much, so it’s a shame they insist on reinforcing the linguistic hurdles you’re struggling so hard to overcome.  They may mean well, but I’m going to tell you something you would probably realize on your own eventually:

Mama and Dada are just a tiny bit insane.

Yes, I know.  The truth hurts, but I’m not going to underestimate your intelligence the way they do.  You can handle it.

It’s not their fault, of course.  Their parents probably spoke baby talk to them when they were growing up.  Maybe it scarred them.  Maybe they thought it was the only way.  But don’t let them hurt you like that.

The cycle ends with you.

When your parents say something asinine, don’t try to figure them out, and please don’t parrot their jibber-jabber back to them.  Let them know you’re not going to lower yourself to that level for their amusement.  I know I can’t possibly teach you all the real words you should be learning right now, so instead, let me offer one all-purpose phrase you can whip out at need:

“What the hell are you talking about?”

Try it.  Say it over and over, whenever your parents talk to you like the baby they want you to remain rather than the well-adjusted grown-up society hopes you’ll become.  Eventually, they’ll get the message.  And hopefully, if they’re capable, they’ll start making some damn sense.

Good luck.  You have a long, hard road ahead of you, like all victims of baby talk.  But whatever you do, even when your parents are at their most insufferably incomprehensible, please resist the overwhelming urge you might have to punch them in the face.

That would be terribly immature.

Thanks for Sharing!

Well, it’s time for the least interesting kind of post, the day-after-a-big-post post.  Yesterday was my highest traffic day ever – more than double the old record, in fact.  I know that means very little to anyone but me, but it makes me happy, so I’m saying thanks.

Thanks to everyone who shared on Twitter, Reddit and Facebook.  (I had more Facebook shares yesterday than I have Facebook friends.)  Thanks to Towleroad and AfterElton.  Thanks to everyone who blogged me or shared me in ways I don’t even know about or understand.  As I say all the time, social networking is the #1 way I reach new readers, so if you like something you read here, please spread it around.

Welcome to the new subscribers, followers and Facebook likers.  (For the rest of you, I hope you’ll consider subscribing by entering your email in the right-hand column – or like me on Facebook and/or follow me on Twitter.  The content is slightly different on each platform.)  Note that this blog very recently underwent a name change.  Until last week, it was called “Where Do Gaybies Come From?”, so you may see that name in some places, like on Facebook, but don’t worry.  It’s the same blog.

Also, check out that snazzy new slider at the top of the page.  It’ll direct you to a few of my more popular posts.

Once again, I’m sorry I fell behind in comment replies.  I usually like to respond to everyone individually, so I hope you’ll forgive this blanket reply instead.  I’ve read everything you’ve written – yes, even the criticism, and I’m glad that my blog has provoked some discussion.  Special thanks to those of you who had my back.

FYI the picture above is of Sutton devouring the world’s tiniest ice cream cone last night.  It doesn’t really fit with the theme of this post, because she wouldn’t have shared it for a million dollars.  But I liked it, and every post needs a picture, so there it is.

cameron

I Won’t Be Your Gay Friend If…

English: English: Actor Kirk Cameron, at Calva...

Image via Wikipedia

“I’ve been encouraged by the support of many friends (including gay friends, incidentally).” – Kirk Cameron

It’s become the latest cliche of homophobia that every time someone in the spotlight spouts something anti-gay, they’re quick to point out that they have gay friends. Really? I wonder if any of these people actually know what being a friend means.

Take Kirk Cameron, for example. He said a bunch of crazy stuff about homosexuality, then acted surprised that gay people took offense.  He has gay friends, after all.  Or so he claims.

Now, let me just state up front that Kirk Cameron’s or anyone’s opinion of homosexuality means about as much to me as my kid’s opinion of eating broccoli, which is pretty similar to how Kirk feels about the gays, actually.  I mean, it’s not like Tina Yothers condemned me.  Then, I’d be crushed.

But how does this guy develop such bigoted views and still think he’s admired by the people he’s bigoted against?  That’s when I realized what’s going on:

You guys, we’re being too nice to Kirk Cameron.

Sure, he thinks he has gay friends.  Most gay people I know are pretty cool.  They’re not going to spit in a former child star’s face just because he grew up to be an insane, reactionary a-hole.

Take me for example.  I’ve scooched over on the train so a bigoted person could sit next to me.  I always let bigots get off the elevator before I get on.  I’ve dropped pennies in the “take a penny, leave a penny” tray knowing that whoever takes my penny may have voted for Prop 8.  What can I say?  I’m very tolerant of people with different viewpoints than my own.  But please, bigots, don’t mistake any of that for friendship.

Just so we’re clear, there are a few dealbreakers to us being buddies which you may not be aware of .  Let me spell them out for you as clearly as I can before you go telling the media that I have your back.

I won’t be your gay friend if…

- You’ll let me cater your wedding but not have one of my own.

- You don’t think I should be able to adopt children because I might be “attracted” to them.

- You think merely saying you love everyone is equivalent to actually demonstrating that love.

- You use your religion both as a basis to attack me and as a shield to defend yourself from my rebuttal.

- You would treat your gay child with anything less than complete acceptance, unconditional love and a raging desire to kick the ass of anyone who made life hard for them.

- You joke in some movie that electric cars are “gay” and expect me to laugh.

- You still wish Will & Grace had hooked up at the end.

If any of those apply to you, that’s fine.  You have every right to be exactly as horrible and wrong-headed as you want to be.  As I said, though, don’t expect me to be your gay friend.

Now that that’s out of the way, I’d like to address those people who actually are my friends, because clearly we’re giving those other guys the wrong impression.

So here’s what I propose:

If you see Kirk Cameron, Sarah Palin or any other blatant homophobe, don’t be nice to them.  It confuses them.

Don’t shake their hand.  Don’t style their hair or do their interior design or perform “Rent” for them.  And for the love of God, don’t play your 1970s classic rock hits at their wedding, Elton.

Just cut them off and say, “Sorry, I only do that for friends.”

It’s not polite and it’s not subtle, but I’m afraid it’s the best course of action from here on out.  Sometimes the only way to get through to these people is to be a complete douchebag.

You know, like them.

Introducing… Mommy Man!

Here it is.  The site redesign I’ve been teasing for ages.  Where Do Gaybies Come From is now…

MOMMY MAN!

But you already figured that out, didn’t you?  You’re smart.

Who is Mommy Man, you ask?  Well, he’s me, Jerry Mahoney, one of two fathers of two-year-old twins conceived through gestational surrogacy, recently transplanted to the NY burbs from LA and an aficionado of the skillet cookie.  If you’re new here, you can get more info on the About page.  If you’re a regular reader, I’m the same guy you’ve been reading about all this time.  I’m just finally revealing my secret identity.  The glasses fooled you, didn’t they?

So why Mommy Man?

  • Where gaybies come from, so to speak, was only one part of what this blog was about, so it made sense to find something a little broader.
  • Some people misread the term “gaybies” to mean that the kids are gay, rather than the parents. “Adventures of a Gay Superdad” makes it clear just who we’re talking about.
  • Because I want more attention, dammit!  Those meddling kids were stealing my limelight!  This blog is about me, me, ME!

Things to know:

  • The blog content isn’t changing.  It’ll still be the same mix of personal anecdotes and information about gay parenting that it’s always been.  I just decided that Mommy Man more accurately reflected what the blog has become.
  • No need to update your bookmarks.  The URL isn’t changing.  Wheredogaybiescomefrom.com will continue to redirect to jerry-mahoney.com, and now, so will mommyman.com.
  • I’ve added a Featured Posts slider below my header, so new readers can easily find their way to some of my favorite posts from the past.  You may need to scroll down a bit more than usual to get to the new content, but it’s there, and it’s swell.

The new header design was done by the incredible David Heatley, who really does have superpowers when it comes to drawing.  Visit his site – or better yet, buy his book – for more awesomeness.

I hope you like the redesign.  I started this blog as a fun part-time diversion from the other writing I do, but it’s been such a pleasure connecting with other gay dads, other bloggers and so many wonderfully supportive readers. As always, if there’s anything you’d like to know about me or gay parenting in general, please feel free to ask in the comment section.  (I’m working on a Gay Dad FAQ, among other things.)

And if you like something you read here, then share, share, share!  There should now be options below every post to Reddit, Digg and Pinterest me, in addition to the Twitter and Facebook buttons.  I spend an embarrassing amount of time checking my site stats, and nothing makes me happier than seeing people posting my links on their Facebook pages.  It really boosts traffic, too.  If you haven’t subscribed or liked me on Facebook yet, then please do!

Until the next post, my work here is done.  (That’s what a superhero says, right?)  If you encounter any problems or frustrations with this new layout, please let me know. Sadly, web design is Mommy Man’s kryptonite.

10 Terms My 2-Year-Old Kids Understand That My 70-Year-Old Mom Doesn’t

“Buffering”

“will.i.am”

“On Demand”

“Angry Birds”

“Stylus”

“Beat Boxing”

“Chipwrecked”

“Magnolia Bakery”

“Keytar”

“Scat”

(On a separate note, never do a Google Image search for “scat”.)