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The Papa-Daddies

by Ted Peterson November 18, 2011

By: Ted Peterson

We’re coming up on the one year anniversary of adopting Mikey, which is a pretty significant milestone. We’ve come a long way in twelve months since the judge said that we are his forever parents, Ian and I.

I’m Daddy and my partner Ian is Papa. We’ve been that from pretty much the first day when Mikey entered our home. Shortly after we started fostering him, we heard from some friends who are also gay fathers that they wished they had set up parental names, because they went by “Daddy Charles” and “Daddy Andrew”, until their son was old enough and decided to drop the “Daddy” and dubbed them simply “Charles” and “Andrew”. Obviously some casual parents like being on a first-name basis with their heirs, but not Charles and Andrew.

While everyone knows how it works with an opposite-sex couple -“Mommy” and “Daddy” -it takes a while for the friendliest of folks to know what terms to use. At preschool, Mikey will be in the playground when Ian arrives to pick him up:

“Mikey!” cries his four-year-old friend. “It’s your daddy!”

Mikey looks out and says, “No, it’s my papa!”

Bless his heart, but the man I promised to love, honor, and point out his foibles in a loving way, can never get our names right. Right now as I’m typing this, I can hear him putting Mikey down to sleep, saying, “Okay, now, give Daddy a kiss and say goodnight.”

Mikey, who already gave me a kiss, says, “No, I give Papa a kiss and say goodnight. You are Papa.”

Our names merge into a hypenate. The Papa-Daddies together drive Mikey to school. Mikey has chocolate milk while the Papa-Daddies have wine. There is Mikey’s bed, and there is the Papa-Daddies’ bed. This hybrid-sharing creature we’ve become is not the ideal when Mikey wants two individuals with their own stuff. He is very concerned with possessives right now, always wants to know who owns certain things. When I’m wearing Papa’s shirt, or Ian’s driving Daddy’s car, Mikey wants to make sure we’re still aware of the order of the universe, who owns what.

“That’s my medicine!” cried Mikey while he was in his bedroom with Ian, grabbing some old tubes of ointments for occasional rashes.

Anticipating a disagreement before it even happened, Mikey ran down to see me to ask whose medicine they were.

“They’re your medicine, but only Daddy or Papa is allowed to touch them and use them on you. You don’t use them yourself because it would be very dangerous.”

“My medicine, but only for grown-ups?” Mikey asked.

“Right.”

“Well,” said Mikey, thinking it over. That’s a pretty complicated thing to grasp, that something is yours but you can’t use it. “Okay.”

“Very good,” I say. “Go bring it back to Daddy.”

“I go bring it back to Papa,” he says. “You’re Daddy.”

Whoops.

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Ted Peterson
Ted Peterson

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