From The 519 Blog June 16th, 2012
If a sign of mastering parenthood is tackling questions about fatherhood while keeping your two-and-a-half year old from smooth-talking a bee, then Bear is doing just fine.
It’s an early Saturday afternoon at The 519 splash pad and Bear’s son Stanley decided to sing softly to a bee hovering over a nearby bush. bear’s partner j went to retrieve a diaper for their toddler from inside where other dads in the community met up for the Queer Parenting Programs’ Dads & Grads Fabulous Fathers’ Day Picnic. Stanley’s singing not only entrances the bee but me as well.
“He’s one hell of a kid,” says Bear and I nod. In addition to a lovely singing voice, Stanley has the most adorable ringlets that trail down his back.
Bear and his partner j coined all experiences surrounding Stanley as the ‘small person acquisition’ project. Bear and j took the Daddies and Papas 2B course at The 519 as well as the Queer-Positive Prenatal weekend course. j has also led the Queer and Trans Family Planning and Transmasculine People Considering Pregnancy courses.
“I didn’t feel I could bear taking a paternity class with straight people,” Bear explains. “We didn’t want to answer impolite prying questions ‘which one of you is the real dad?’ So we turned to The 519 and their programs which are designed for queer families.”
Soaking up tender moments as new parents
Stanley calls his parents j and Bear, Abba and Papa respectively. I learn Abba is Jewish for father.
The two-and-half-year old giggles while gradually pushing the big blue wheel in the Centre’s splash pad as his Abba lays on it. While talking to me, Bear pauses take in the moment. Time almost stops except for the pair as they slowly whirl around.
“Everyday it’s like this, he’s the smartest brightest little thing,” Bear grins. “Here’s my grown husband on this spinning wheel and here’s my little one, not yet 40 pounds, trying to get his Abba up and over.”
“Most of it is great,” j concurs when we sit down to talk later. “It’s a whole lot of tenderness which I adore – how he learns, intellectually and engages in the world.”
For instance, during a trip to the zoo, j remembers an example that revealed how Stanley perceives his family structure. “It’s clear to me, our family is his model. At the zoo, he sees the penguins and asks ‘Where’s the penguins’ Abba and Papa?’ He saw his family in the penguins.” j beams.
Good intentions: Ideas you have before you get to know your kid
As new parents, j and Bear agree they’ve faced their share of challenges.
“Cute is the easy part. There’s are times when the other parent is away, the dog has diarrhea, things to need to get done – that’s the hard part,” j says. “Some days you’re great at it, other days it’s ‘Dude, I need your help, we need to get moving.’”
Bear jokes, “I was a perfect parent before I was actual parent. I failed to take in to account that kids have their way of doing things.”
He cites his commitment to learning how to swaddle as a example. “I practiced swaddling with a doll till I was world champion,” Bear recalls. “Cut to seven minutes after birth, he was busting out of the swaddle and he has never been swaddled since.”
“You have all these ideas of what you’re going to do before you have a child and they only last till first contact.”
Relating to each other as parents
j appreciates how he and Bear interact as parents. “There are new ways to like and respect each other. We value how each other parents. It’s great and it’s tender and it’s good.”
They’ve learned they need to plan and negotiate more even when they need time alone and the importance of being gentle with each other when they do things differently.
“Who ever did it, did it right. There’s no nitpicking,” j explains.
One of the many things that bear loves about his partner is that it never occurred to j to say to his son – as he pushed him on the wheel – “you’re too little to do this.”
This Father’s Day note was written by Community Contributor Natalie Henry. Natalie loves to take photos of new vegetarian recipes or anything food related. She also owns too many cookbooks.