Dear Ms. Behavior:
My partner and I are raising our child with the lesbians who gave birth to her. Overall, it has been a comfortable, 50/50 arrangement. We all have gotten along famously regarding everything from methods of child rearing to scheduling to dietary issues.
However, now that June has learned to talk, we are concerned by the words she learns when she is with Patsy and Cassie. We need to figure out how to approach them about our concerns.
For example, after returning to us last weekend, June entered our home, and said, “It smells like farts.” She laughed hysterically. She then proceeded to use the words “farts” and “poop” dozens of times over the next few days.
We don’t know what her mothers are teaching her, but I can assure you that her daddies do not focus on poop. If anything, we put a lot of effort into teaching her the proper words for things.
Because things have been so nice between her mothers and us, we don’t want to mess it up with them.
So, what should we say to help them to understand that we don’t want our daughter to have a potty mouth?
—Daddies Brad And TJ
Dear Daddies Brad And TJ:
The question really isn’t how to bring up the poop issue properly, so that you can save your relationship with your daughter’s mothers, because really, you shouldn’t bring it up at all. It’s normal for June to be obsessed with poop (or excrement or doody or stool, if you’d prefer).
Because you don’t seem to be suffering from a lack of education, the question is really a matter of why you’re too uptight to recognize a universal developmental stage.
At a certain point when they start to speak, babies say “Dada” before they say “Mama.” At another point, they put everything in their mouths. Starting at about age 4, according to everyone from Freud to Spock, they’re obsessed with crap, regardless of what you call it.
When you teach your daughter to call her poop “feces,” and to say “Excuse me for expelling gas” when she farts, you’re not considering that your well-intentioned lessons may cause her to be a freak among her peers.
You and your partner may end up feeling more comfortable knowing that no unsavory words cross your daughter’s lips, but eventually, your prissiness will be seen for what it is. Your little princess and her lesbian mothers will think of you and your boyfriend as tight little anal openings.
So, you’d be better off trying to hold it in, if you can.
Dear Ms. Behavior:
I am a musician, and I sometimes need to play out of town. Because I have a great girlfriend, who is about to move in with me next month, I try to stay near home as much as possible.
A couple of weeks ago, I played with my band in another state for three nights. A woman there came to our show every night, and kept asking me to go out with her afterward.
I told her I had a girlfriend, but she persisted. Then, for some crazy reason, on the third night, I went home with her. I knew it was a mistake right away, and I could barely go through with the sex, but I was naked and in another woman’s bed.
So, I guess that counts as cheating, right?
Once I arrived home, I went to see my therapist. She helped me to realize that I acted out because I was fearful of my increasing commitment to Amy. Of course, I ended up feeling terrible about it.
Now, I need to know whether to tell Amy what happened. It feels deceptive not to tell her. If I do tell her, she might leave me.
If I promise myself that I’ll never do it again, do I really have to tell her?
My therapist said that I don’t, but I want your opinion too.
What you want, on one hand, is permission not to tell your partner that you slithered around naked in another woman’s bed.
On the other hand, you want to come clean, because you fear that feeling deceptive will mess up your relationship with your girlfriend.
Can you live with a secret? Or will the secret wedge between you and your girlfriend?
These are the questions you must ask yourself before your girlfriend moves in.
You think that the real risk of losing her only comes with telling the truth. However, feeling like a liar can be a slow torture, too—like pulling out one hair at a time.
© 2011 Meryl Cohn. Address questions and correspondence to <[email protected]>. She is the author of Do What I Say: Ms. Behavior’s Guide to Gay and Lesbian Etiquette (Houghton Mifflin). Signed copies are available directly from the author.