My phone rings, while grocery shopping this afternoon. It's Boy-o's new school principal. He sounds, well, grave. Immediately, I'm a bit on edge. Did we lose our spot? No, but there does seem to be a problem.
"You are Boy-o's mom?" he asks me.
"One of them."
"Um, so you are a part of an, um, same-sex couple?"
"Yup." (I'm getting slightly more worried now.)
"It seems that I can't, um, figure out a way to fit you into my system...."
We do not, it seems, compute. Translate. Fit into their computer system, which demarcates one parent as "mother" and one parent as "father".
Apparently, we are the first same-sex parents this liberal school for the performing arts school has seen.
He is all kinds of apologetic. They will work on changing the system. But until they do, one of us is going to be listed as Boy-o's "father," on all school communications.
I am pretty good-natured about it, I think, though I do ask them to clarify that they will, in fact, change this system. But I nevertheless get off the phone feeling a little bit heartsick and a little bit weary.
Boy-o wants to know why his new principal called. I don't know what to tell him. The explanation is just too.... big. So I lie. "I wrote your middle name too messy on the application, buddy. They just wanted to make sure they had it right."
How can it possibly be that no other queer parents have sent their children to Vic?
How can it possibly be that yet again, Boy-o will be the only one?
It's just letters, I tell myself. Just a few mislabelled letters until they fix it. (Presuming they fix it).
But of course, it's not just letters. It's not just mislabelling.
It's just one more reminder, in a string of constant reminders, that we do not fit.