Monday was tie day. Kids had to wear ties to school. For some reason we have embarked on a month of silly clothes. The school will launch into this every once in a while, and it usually distresses me. I have enough trouble getting them to stop wearing shorts and skirts. Now I have to add another piece of clothing?
The girls told me on Friday that they had to wear a tie to school on Monday. I looked at them. I realize that some lesbians have ties in their wardrobes. I’m not one of them. And I quickly realized that this day was designated with the idea that kids and dads might have a nice time picking out the appropriate tie.
I knew when my kids were little that when a school or organization they belonged to had a daddy/daughter dinner, my kids would have to hang out at home with me. I was prepared for that. But a tie? One piece of clothing can put them completely outside of the game?
“We’ll try to borrow a couple of ties,” I told them. Hell, it must be easier to borrow ties than a dad for a dinner. But it was an incredibly busy weekend, and we are just not the kind of family who would remember that someone’s supposed to wear a tie.
So Sunday night rolls around and as the girls are picking out their clothes, they suddenly realize they will be left out if they don’t have a tie. I looked at them again.
“We’re gonna have to improvise.”
Let me tell you a little bit about my daughters. My daughter Dixon is quick witted, easy going and has a finely tuned sense of humor. She understands improvisation. Delaney is quick tempered, usually doesn’t want to go anywhere, and is acutely tuned into what people think of her. She has a weekly homework assignment to answer questions using vocabulary words. Last week, the word was ‘plunge,’ and the question was, “What item would you like to see plunge in price?” Dixon and I looked at each other and said, “An iPad.” Delaney looked down at her paper and said, “I don’t want to say that. Then people will know we don’t have money.”
“Gotta tell you something, kiddo. People around here already know we don’t have money. They can tell by the cracks in our driveway. They can tell by the untamed garden. They can tell by the fact that I live here alone with two kids. I don’t care. My worth is not in my bank account. Although it would be nice to have an iPad.”
This was not what Delaney wanted to hear, though I have no doubt it was what she needed to hear. Her face scrunched up, and I found myself wishing again that she would take her glasses off when she started to cry.
“Delaney, not everybody in your school has an iPad.”
“Most people have parents who at least have an iPad,” Dixon shot back. I ignored this. The thing with twins is to not let them gang up.
“Are you ashamed of something, Delaney? Are you ashamed of me? Do you not like who you are?”
Her eyes widened, and I thought, “Maybe that was a slightly heavy handed, Jewish mother guilt thing. I didn’t really mean it that way.”
“No! I’m not ashamed of you. And I like myself. I just want other people to like me.”
“And you think they’ll like you less because you don’t have an iPad?”
She shrugged. The other thing about Delaney is that she is very smart. Logic will always win out.
I don’t have a blow by blow of the rest of the conversation. Delaney moved on, trying to find something she wanted the price to plunge on. We talked about red Ferraris. We talked about diamond rings. We talked about vacations. But we ultimately agreed that we really had no use for any of those things. Eventually, she wrote “iPad.”
But Sunday night, I did not have two hours to spend talking her through the idea of improvising a tie. I went to their top drawer, pulled out a chenille scarf, put it around my neck and tied a knot.
“A tie,” I said.
Dixon looked intrigued. Delaney said that it wasn’t a tie and everybody would know it and she wasn’t going to wear it, even if she stood out by not wearing one.
Not my issue. We went to bed. And in the morning Dixon sported a very classy pink, sparkly tie.
As they were getting ready for bed Monday night, Dixon told me that people came up to ask her why she wasn’t wearing a real tie.
“Well, we don’t have a dad and nobody in our house wears ties, so I used a scarf.”
This answer elicited lots of questions.
“Josh asked me where my dad was, if he died or something,” Dixon said. “I told him we had two moms and we never had a dad. And a bunch of people asked how we were born—”
“You shouldn’t have said that to Josh,” Delaney interrupted. “Josh will take that kind of stuff and spread it around everywhere.”
At this, I actually held up my hand.
“Stop. Who cares if Josh tells everybody you have two moms? Why is that something you wouldn’t want to spread?”
Dixon gave the answer she’s been giving since they were five: “Yeah, Delaney, everybody already knows we have two moms.”
This time, Delaney sort of laughed and shrugged, and just to drive the point home, I gave them two examples of things that WOULD be embarrassing and that Josh should never know.
Then I turned back to Dixon. “So what did you tell them about how you were born?”
“I told them it was too complicated.”
“Well...” I began, but Dixon cut me off.
“We have a sperm donor and my mom took his sperm and put it with her egg and created us. I really don’t want to tell people that in school.”
She had a point. Perhaps that might be a bit much for third graders. Still, I admired how she handled the situation – both with her fellow students and with me.