Saturday, October 21, 2017

Will & Grace and Aaron & Esther

"Why does she talk so high like that?" 

We were snuggled up on the couch in the den Thursday night. The kids were with me for a very rare three-day weekend because they're on their fall break. I had asked if they'd like to watch "Will & Grace" with me.

"What's that?" Esther had asked. I looked at Aaron. He shrugged his shoulders, which surprised me; they, as typical ninth-graders, both know more about popular culture than I do. But I guess "Will & Grace" is outside their age-related awareness bandwidth.

"It's a show that ran for about eight seasons ten years ago," I had replied, "and has now been revived." I went on to explain that it has two gay characters and two women who are their friends.

"Sure, okay," said Esther cheerily. (Esther is a self-proclaimed snuggle-bunny, but I'm not sure she would want the girls on her soccer team to know that.)

"I guess ... ," offered Aaron, who rarely watches anything with the rest of us when he and his three siblings are at my house every other weekend.

The show started. Esther's question was about Karen's voice. She was intrigued with why and how she could talk like that. Aaron, getting the jokes that - in large part - flew by his sister, laughed more than she did. (He sat through the whole show.)

I myself found this episode funnier that others so far this season. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it was because I was happy to share watching it with others - as I had been to watch the season premiere with friends Dan and Russ in their apartment in Berlin several weeks ago and this time with my kids. Perhaps, too, because I was seeing it "live" on TV for the first time this season instead of later on a laptop.

I was happy, as a gay dad, to be sharing this experience with my older teenage kids, particularly since the episode focused on Jack's grandson, Skip, whose parents attempted to put him in a reparative therapy camp because he was evincing too many of the personality traits of his biological grandfather (Jack). I explained to Esther and Aaron what was going on and what the purpose of the camp was.

I suspect this was the first time they had ever heard of such a thing as a reparative therapy camp. The episode handled the issues wonderfully, I thought - seriously yet lightly and oh so funnily. The message of self-acceptance came through loud and clear, and even Jack's son got it.

I wish that I could have more such teaching moments with my kids, but I'm grateful for the ones I do have. And I'm grateful for the opportunity to snuggle on the couch with them, for I know the day is coming when they'll be too "old for that."

I don't do as many activities as I used to do with the four younger kids when they were younger. For one thing, they have grown older and their interests have grown more disparate. For another, I simply enjoy their presence in my home, not feeling like I have to entertain them. It makes the reality of our circumstances, children and divorced parent, seem less artificial, more normal.

I'm grateful for Aaron and Esther, both of whom were adopted from Russia, as well as their little sister, Annie, who was also adopted. (I briefly told the story of their adoptions in 2003 and 2007 in this blog post) It's that season of the year that we celebrate all three of their birthdays: Aaron was born October 19th, Annie October 23rd, and Esther October 31st. They're pretty amazing kids. They've come a long way, as have I.

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