By: Ted Peterson
In the last blog, I listed what I thought was a fairly complete list of the ways our family is clearly not typical: we’re transracial, same-sex-couple-headed, and multicultural, with one father American and the other British. Obviously, we have plenty of peculiarities beyond that, but I thought that’s all that was obvious until last weekend, when we were the guest speakers at the Southern California Family Foster and Adoption Agency’s orientation class for prospective parents.
We told everyone the story of our family: Ian and I going through similar orientation classes, becoming certified, getting two placements and losing them, and our experiences adopting and parenting Mikey. There was not a dry eye in the house – except for Mikey who spent his time playing with the iPad, and watching Rio for the seventieth time.
The questions flew at us about dealing with the loss of our first two kids, balancing work and home life, the process of being certified as foster-adoptive parents, our experience with getting services from Los Angeles Regional Centers, and how we learned to do Mikey’s hair. Finally, a couple who looked much like us raised their hand.
“I don’t know how to say this nicely,” one of the men said inauspiciously. “But we have concerns about being an older couple getting a young child. Did you?”
After we crawled back upright from the floor, we laughingly assured the fellow – who on closer inspection, was much older than we first assessed, and was probably senile – that he had nothing to worry about. Then we placed emergency calls for botox and full-body lifts.
Of course, we’ve done the calculations, how old we’ll be when Mikey graduates from high school and college. Assuming he becomes President of the United States at the absolute youngest he can, we figured, we’ll be pushing 80. They better give us comfortable seats on the dias during the inauguration ceremony.
Nowadays, everyone’s having kids later, right? Everyone thinks about Madonna, but she’s a spring lamb adopting her second child at 50, compared to the wizened papas in Hollywood, where we have examples like Rod Stewart who became a dad for the seventh time at 66, the same age as Clint Eastwood when he had his last one. It’s not even a new trend in the biz. In 1962, when Charlie Chaplin was 73, his 11th child was born.
The thing about celebrities though is that they’re generally rich and in a good physical shape, both of which help. It helps to be in good shape and be younger than your years so you can keep up with your kids, play ball and race, and dance to the Wiggles. It helps to be rich because then you can just hire younger people to do all that for you and your kid.
So far, we’ve done pretty well keeping up with Mikey. It probably helps that we both quit smoking two years before Mikey came along. He is, however, getting bigger and still wants me to carry him from time to time. I know to lift with the legs, but my legs aren’t very useful when he’s already in my arms and sees a cupcake with his name on it. The resulting squirm is what threw out my back two months ago.
It’s times like that which make us understand the benefit to having babies in your teens and twenties. Actually, it’s a perceived benefit, because actual parents in their teens and twenties often feel trapped, stuck at home with their kids, when they want to be out clubbing like those of us without kids did.
Of course, George Bernard Shaw recognized this when he said “Youth is wasted on the young.”