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My Son, My Friend

Graphic of father and son as video game stars. My son, my friend

Let’s Be Frank: The Diary of a Divorced Gay Dad

I have a confession to make. Our son was adopted from birth, and I thought he was going to be a girl. Everybody did. The birthmother never wanted to ascertain the baby’s gender, but if you asked anyone, including her, they would have said “girl.” Prior to his birth, I secretly got a few tiny baby dresses and was already envisioning buying her first Louis Vuitton handbag (at age 2). And then, while we were standing by his birthmother’s bed, he popped out. With a penis. I was, of course, overjoyed and thrilled and experiencing every emotion possible, but I was slightly thrown off. I’m not going to say I was upset, because I wasn’t. I just genuinely thought I was going to have to learn about the vagina and French braiding hair.

His nursery was painted a perfect shade of Shrek green, and all of the furniture was white and espresso brown. My plan was that if we had a girl, I would pop the room with pink – very Lilly Pulitzer. And then if we, by some crazy remote chance, had a boy – navy. Needless to say, I was pouring over the Pottery Barn Kids catalogue in search of the perfect navy gingham drapes and rug within hours of his birth. The result was adorable, and I returned those dresses for the cutest onesies on the planet. I decided I would give myself the first three months to dress him any way I liked – high fashion infant. After that, I toned him down and found the perfect balance of baby masculine attire. I figured out how to have fun with it.

Over the years, the toy trucks would come and go, and you couldn’t walk three feet without stepping on a Lego. There was zero nostalgia with his baby toys, for I have no memory of playing with trucks. (If I even did – Mom, Dad – did I?) But once he grew into what I call “The Nintendo years,” we suddenly had a lot more in common.

Briggs was around three when he first discovered Mario. The little Italian plumber in red overalls was always close to my heart, as he was my first real brush with video games. I rolled out the red carpet to welcome him back into my home almost 30 years later. In the beginning it was just the action figures. Briggs was too young to play the games, but went crazy when he saw Mario, Luigi, Toad, and Peach at Toys ‘R’ Us. I was ecstatic to purchase them for him – with the ulterior motive that he would fall in love with the franchise. And he did.

When he finally graduated from LeapFrog to Nintendo, I was there with armfuls of new Mario games. He had the character familiarity, so his eyes popped out of his head when he made them move on the TV. Together we played, navigating the candy-colored levels full of mushrooms and piranha plants. It was my childhood on steroids – and the best part was bonding with my son over it. I eventually unearthed that you can download the original versions, so we gave them a whirl and laughed at the primitive graphics. And then of course we had the “when the student becomes the master moment,” and he started kicking my ass. I’m not sure if being a Super Mario Master has many practical skills, but if so, my kid would be a millionaire.

Now that it’s just the two of us, I value our friendship more than anything. That’s exactly what it is – I’m his parent first, and his friend second. His personality is developing, and I fully enjoy every moment of his company. He has a very natural sense of humor, and loves to make me laugh. It’s an ideal relationship!!! Oh, and he unconditionally loves me too, to boot. I’m at the point in my life where I would do anything for him to make sure he is happy and has good days. Some days that’s cracking into a new Super Mario game and disguising my frustration as they keep getting harder. Other days, it’s just being nearby him when he wants his “alone time.” Before his birth, I highly underestimated the level of bond I would have with a little boy. Now I don’t question anything and believe everything turned out exactly as it was meant to be. He is, and always will be – my son, my friend.

To help find your path to fatherhood through gay adoption, surrogacy or foster care check out the GWK Academy.

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