A few days ago Noah and I were playing in the sand box and made a lovely friend that recruited me to build sand castles for her. “Is he your son?” she asks me, witnessing our intimate connection paired against differing skin tones and hair color. My mind instantly flashes back to the numerous times cashiers and waitresses in Oklahoma asked my mom and I “Are these groceries together?” Or “will this meal be on separate checks?” My five year old self wondering if my pocket change might pick up the tab.
My mom got “Oh how sweet of you to adopt” while I am blessed with “how long have you been his nanny?” These micro assumptions pile up to the point of exhaustion and there’s absolutely no place that’s safe.
I navigate her piercing question with ease and explain, yes we are mother and son, despite the differences in hue. Let’s focus on the sandcastles. Then she hits me with another one. “Do you have a boyfriend?”
With my heart weary from our previous discussion I reply, “Yes”. I’m just too tired to explain. The reply was blurted out so quickly and nervously, there was no going back to address the truth. Surely in a land where cupcakes are made out of sand and motes are built out of puddles to protect castles, I can have an imaginary boyfriend to protect my heart from further interrogation.
In the moment where I might have set the tone to be honest through the exhaustion as an example for Noah, I just didn’t have it in me. And I won’t fault Noah someday if it’s easier some days….some moments to save some time and some pain and entertain someone else with something that’s pretend.