Benjamin has been talking a lot about his daddy. Regular readers know that Ben and I adopted each other, I heard his heartbeat before he was born, he was in my arms at four hours old and hasn't left since. I adopted as a single parent. There is only my name on his birth certificate.
Benjamin says "We have a small family: Momma, Benjamin and Lily."
We have friends, of course, who have daddies. Daddies pick up and drop off at Peach Tree. One daddy named Benjamin lives in our buiding and is our friend, his daughter Tasha went for a walk with us tonight.
A few months ago, he said to me, "I'm sad, Momma, I don't have no Daddy." I thought about the grammar, but didn't correct him.
"Honey, of course you have a daddy, everyone has a daddy. It's just that your daddy doesn't live with us."
"Where does he live?"
"Your daddy lives in Detroit."
"Let's play trains, Momma." And we did.
There have been more questions. The inevitable "Why?" The poignant, "Could my daddy pick me up?" And corrections: Benjamin is often convinced his daddy is in New York. Or that his daddy just got back from Africa. And funny things: his friend Alexander announced to his parents that he wished he had a family like Benjamin's: no daddy (and no little baby brother.)
Not long after our early discussions, Barack Obama was speaking in Detroit. I wanted to take Benjamin. But I was afraid we'd get into a big crowd downtown, and maybe have to wait a long time, and then maybe not even get in. I couldn't afford to pop for the expensive tickets which would guarantee a place at the party. So Ben and I did the next best thing, we snuggled on the couch and watched the event live streaming on my laptop.
We listened to Jennifer Granholm's rousing and honest speech, Al Gore's great speech, looked for friends we knew were there in shots of the crowd. When Barack took the stage, Benjamin looked at me earnestly and said, "Is Barack Obama my daddy?"
I did laugh, I admit. Benjamin giggled. "He's in Detroit, Momma, is he my Daddy?"
"Honey, if you'd like Barack Obama to be your daddy, I think that's great! Let's pretend that Barack Obama is your daddy."
Benjamin laughed, a deep genuine laugh. "No, silly Momma," he said, a twinkle in his eye, "Barack Obama is my PRESIDENT, not my daddy."
Since then, we've had a few other jokes, like when he was being dramatic and saying in his best fakey woe-is-me voice, "I don't have a daddy," I said, "well, I think we should go to the daddy store tomorrow and pick one out for you." The Barack thing sort of broke the ice and made it ok for us to be light about it. Benjamin is processing this issue, just the first of many he will have to grapple with.
But, secretly, I love the idea of Barack Obama being Ben's daddy.