The Happy Homemaker: "The Principal's Office" and "The Ways of the World"

posted Oct 9, 2013, 2:34 AM by Terrence Moss   [ updated Oct 9, 2013, 2:53 AM ]
I inadvertently started a new story series on my blog that began with a rather amusing but improbable imagining of me as a husband and father. So I’ve decided to start posting them here three (or in this case, two) at a time…

“The Principal’s Office”

Given how often I stop by Pierpont's school, it's surprising to actually be called in for a meeting. It's even more surprising to be called in by the principal.

Bradley wasn't thrilled about having to also be in attendance. In his mind, where Pierpont is concerned, school is Terrence Territory. So to him, this meeting was either really good or really bad.

"Hello ladies...and Gary," I said to the office secretaries as Bradley and I walked in. "You remember my husband Bradley."

"Hello Mr. Moss and his far more charming husband Bradley whom we'd love to deal with instead," the ladies and Gary replied. [If I'm being honest, they probably just greeted us both with a hello, but that's what I heard.]

Bradley flashed them that same wide grin he used to get me to move from Hollywood to Long Beach and then again to adopt a child after years of saying that I had no desire for one. I still don't, but Pierpont's growing on me.

"Mr. Collins is waiting for you in his office," Sally informed us.

"Is Pierpont in with him or is he still in class?" I asked.

"He's in with Mr. Collins."

"Is this a good meeting or a bad meeting?" I asked Sally as we walked toward Mr. Collin's office door.

She held up a plate of cookies -- presumably from my drop-in two days ago. "May I interest you in a cookie...or three?"

"Yikes. Are you ready for this Bradley?"

Bradley shrugged and knocked on the door. Mr. Collins told us to come in. We saw Pierpont as we opened the door. He was seated in a chair with his head down and swinging his legs back and forth. It wasn't obvious, but I could tell that he was nervous. This couldn't be good. Bradley walked in, kissed Pierpont on the top of the head and then shook Mr. Collin's hand. I stared Pierpont down for a moment before greeting Mr. Collins. Bradley sat down next to Pierpont and I sat down next to Bradley.

Mr. Collins, a man of somewhere in his early forties with a humorless quality about him perfect for such a position as Principal, folded his hands and leaned forward on his elbows toward Bradley and I. We, in turn, leaned back in our chairs.

"Thank you both for coming in on such short notice," Mr. Collins began.

"I probably would have been on my way in anyway," I joked...into absolute silence.

Ignoring me, Mr. Collins continued. "We may have a situation here. We probably don't, but it has to be addressed. I'll just cut to the chase and let you know that Pierpont was sent down here yesterday afternoon for calling another student a 'faggot'."

Bradley and I were taken aback. Confused, we both slowly turned our heads to share this confusion with Pierpont, whose head was still lowered. Then we slowly turned our heads back toward Mr. Collins.

"Our son said this?" Bradley asked.

"Yes," Mr. Collins replied.

Bradley and I slowly turned our heads back toward Pierpont of the Still Bowed Head and then back toward Mr. Collins.

"Our son...Pierpont?" Bradley clarified.

"Yes," Mr. Collins confirmed.

Bradley and I turned our heads to each other, then over to Pierpont and then back to Mr. Collins. "Can we have a minute with him?" Bradley asked.

"Sure thing. Take your time. I have to make my afternoon rounds but I trust this situation will be handled appropriately and that I won't have to see you in here again. Is that right, Pierpont?"

"Yes, sir," Pierpont replies softly.

"Look at him when you say that," Bradley said.

"And apologize," I added sternly.

Pierpont looked up at Mr. Collins. "I'm sorry," he said, nearing the point of tears. It was enough to break your heart. I wanted to just grab him in a hug, but I held firm.

Bradley did not. Once Mr. Collins left the room, Bradley stood up, grabbed Pierpont into a hug and sat down on Mr. Collin's desk. Pierpont wrapped his arms around Bradley's neck and started crying.

Bradley can be such a pushover.

But if it hadn't been him, it would have been me.

Bradley looked at me. "Do you want to handle this?"

Bradley kissed Pierpont on the forehead, sat him back down in the chair and kneeled down in front of him. I got up from my chair and sat down in the chair next to Pierpont. "No, go ahead," I said.

"Look at me, Pierpont. Why did you call that other student such a bad name?" he asked.

"I don't know," Pierpont responded softly.

"That's not good enough," I interjected.

"Did you hear it from someone else?" Bradley asked.

"Yes."

"Who?"

"David."

"Who's David?"

"A kid in class."

"Was he talking about another student?" Bradley asked. Pierpont nodded his head. Bradley looked at me for a moment and then back to Pierpont. "Do you know what that word means?"

Pierpont shook his head.

"Do you think it's a good idea to say words you don't know the meaning to?"

Pierpont started to swing his legs again. "No."

"So why did you say it?"

Pierpont shrugged his shoulders.

"Not good enough," I said.

"Did you think it was funny?" Bradley asked.

Pierpont nodded. Bradley rose, picked him up and sat back down in the chair with Pierpont on his lap. "Son, it's not funny. The word 'faggot' is a bad word that people use as an insult to gays and lesbians. Do you remember when we talked about who they were?"

Pierpont nodded his head.

"So when you called that other student a 'faggot', you were insulting a lot of gays and lesbians -- including us."

Pierpont looked at me and then looked at Bradley. "You guys are gay?!"

Bradley and I looked at each other in confusion. "What did you think we were?" I asked. Apparently in talking to him about what gay is, we just assumed he made the connection. That, or two men who married each other were afraid of coming out to their own son.

"My dads."

I held Pierpont's hand in mine. "And your dads are both men who find other men attractive, so that makes us gay...but not 'faggots'. And that is a word you are to never EVER use again, do we make ourselves clear?"

"Yes."

I waved a finger in Pierpont's face. "And if we ever hear you say it or hear about you saying it again, you'll be eating cauliflower for a week -- without seasoned salt."

Bradley shot me a quizzical look, stood up and put Pierpont down. He looked at his watch. "I need to get back to work."

"And you need to get to back to class," I said to Pierpont.

The three of us stood up to walk out. Bradley opened the door to let Pierpont and I walk through. "So what's a nigger?" Pierpont asked.

Stunned, Bradley and I froze. The equally stunned faces of the secretaries peered into view. Bradley slowly closed the door and looked at me. "Do you want to handle this?"

"I suppose I should," I replied. I looked down at Pierpont and placed a hand on his head. "I think we're going to have to find you some new friends."


“The Ways of the World” 

Since acquiring Pierpont four years ago, Bradley and I sought out to create the illusion of a colorblind society. We wanted him to know that even though I'm black, Bradley is white and he is of some Hispanic descent (among other things we don't know of), such things don't matter -- at least not in our household.

Until they do. 

Because we don't live in such a society.

The other day, Pierpont asked Bradley and I what a "nigger" was -- a word he had never heard in OUR household. This was in the wake of Bradley and I getting called into the principal's office because Pierpont called a classmate a "faggot" -- another word he never heard in OUR house.

We know he heard the word "faggot" from a classmate named David, but we didn't get much cooperation from the school in terms of tracking this kid down and talking to his parents. Instead, they told us they would send a note to the parents of the kid in question about the matter and its "resolution" -- as it were.

While in the principal's office dealing with the "'faggot' incident", Pierpont told Bradley and I he'd heard the word "nigger" from some older kids on the playground. Instead of pursuing it through the school (to save trees and postage), we decided to table the "nigger" discussion that we apparently needed to have with Pierpont until the weekend so that I could spend a couple of days thinking about what I wanted to say. Even moreso than the word "faggot", we wanted him to fully understand why "nigger" was not a good word for ANYONE to say and that it is 1000% unacceptable to say in our house, in anyone else's house or anywhere else.

We didn't feel the need to threaten him with punishment because he really seemed to understand the gravity of the word whenever I said it during that discussion. I was strangely relieved that he was just as taken aback by the word as I have always been.

Pierpont asked me if anyone ever called me that before. I told him no but regardless, it has been said to a lot of people in very mean ways for a very long time and has implications that date back several centuries when people thought it was okay to own other people.

"That's dumb," he responded. He makes me so proud sometimes. I smiled at Bradley, who was visibly uncomfortable with the entire conversation for any number of reasons, and told Pierpont that we would save THAT conversation for another time.

Bradley and I decided to toe a very fine lines between letting Pierpont come into certain understandings on his own but explaining their implications, exposing him to certain injustices as a means of preparing him for what he may face as the mixed-race adopted child of an interracial gay couple and shielding him altogether from certain realities so as to not disillusion him from seeing that there still is beauty in this world.

We don't know what we'll have to talk to him about next. We don't know how he'll react once we do. All we know is that we have to reinforce the fact that we love him and that there are good people and bad people in the world of all races, cultures and lifestyles.

And that Bradley and I are sorry for falling in love with each other and putting him in these situations because we in turn fell in love with him and wanted to be his dads.