I both enjoy and kinda dread the process by which JP figures things out regarding his life as a child whose parents have divorced. I enjoy it because I enjoy being witness to his development emotionally and mentally, and because it’s often funny (ever see a kid try to figure how to take off his own t-shirt?–pure slapstick). I dread it because I know that his life so far has been one of some tumult and change and it saddens me to have to face it.
We’ve had a few discussions of late about what marriage is, what it means, and what his role will be in the wedding ceremony I’m having with Tomoko later this summer. I asked him a few days ago if he wanted to be my best man and he actually said no. Not that he was against the wedding or anything, he just didn’t want to do it. Apparently he’s entering his teenage years somewhat early.
That led to a longer and more broad ranging discussion about weddings and what they mean. Go ahead: give a simple, clear explanation of a wedding so that a four-year-old can understand it, and without dipping into any no-longer-if ever-true gender stereotypes (wanna be the guy to tell your kid marriage is when a man and a woman…?) It ain’t easy. Add in the concern that once I start talking about the wedding, we could be forced to discuss step-mothers, which would mean Tomoko potentially replacing his mother, which could leave to all kinds of upsets.
Basically I just told him that a wedding is a thing that people who love each other do to tell everyone they know that they’re in love, and they exchange rings when they do it. Don’t think that’s a good explanation? Maybe you could drop by and do a better job. Beers on me.
Anyway, JP seemed to accept that without too much comment. Then last night he brought the topic up again. No, he still didn’t want to be my best man (tough shit, kid–you’re doing it): instead, he thought it would be a great idea if we got married. Me and him.
“Not for real,” he said. “But just for playing!”
That, quite frankly, didn’t seem like such a bad idea. He could participate, feel like he’s doing something special, fun for the whole family.
So, this weekend I’m going to marry my little boy. We’re going to get toy rings, and bake a cake (Tomoko’s going to have to do that), and we’ll have a little ceremony at home.
“With presents!” JP said (I said no to that; kid’s trying to play me for a fool).
OK, analysts–anyone got a clue what this all means? I don’t entirely, other than he’s just trying to figure out what marriage means for him. How will he be affected by my new wife? Tomoko has been around for a good portion of his life. Does marrying me change her status? Does it change his? What about this new child, Ellie, who’s always around? What does this mean for Mommy? Why can’t she marry her partner?
You can just sit back and watch the thoughts cycling through his head one after the other. I’m rather impressed myself–no acting out, no weird emotional outbursts, just curiosity and his desire to get in on the expressions of love.
Can’t beat that.