I haven’t written one of these in a long while and much in my world has changed since then. In particular, you came along. And then, just a few months later we all landed in Luxembourg to start a new adventure, away from the tanned Orange Plague and alight in a tiny little dot of a country in Central Europe.
Before we start this letter about communication & misunderstanding, let me give you a little background on a previous letter I wrote to your sister, Malin. It was called “Your Dad Brings All The Boys to the Yard” and its central tenet was that I’m often mistaken for gay. Like a lot.
This parlays nicely into the story I’m about to tell. See, there’s a nice older Luxembourgish couple who is still waiting for me and your Dad to come over for a glass of Cremant. They live a few blocks away, tucked in a cul-de-sac near Hesperange park. Like the rest of the surrounding houses in the well-manicured neighborhood, their house is a reflection of suburban Luxembourg culture. Presentable. Cozy. Sleepy. On a late Summer day in August this happened:
I mean, on one hand, I get the confusion. I’m a little bit fabulous, I was wearing some pretty short swim shorts and I had a light-brown baby(you) in a BabyBjorn. They knew I had just moved from a fortified stronghold of Progressive culture. I mentioned that “we” had moved as a family but never mentioned that it had been with your Mom. In their defense, they had enough superficial fact-gathering to assume I had a husband.
Quick disclaimer: If they’d been correct and I was raising you with another man, just know you’d have just as much of an opportunity to be raised in a loving home with two dedicated humans who’d protect you until the end of time. I’m not saying this to be “woke”, I’m saying it because it’s true and any controversy on the topic should be put to rest.
Anyway, I learned a couple of lessons from this:
- Instead of standing there amused and a little surprised about their invitation, I should have taken the opportunity to let them know, in the moment they were walking away, that I could bring my husband but that my wife would be upset if she found out about him. We’d of all had a good laugh and moved on. The lesson here is that simple misunderstanding can be axed by having a nimble enough mind to clarify the situation in the moment. Don’t miss out on those moments Lennon.
- This situation was also a good reminder that I can always sharpen my communication skills, even within a casual conversation. Misunderstanding is often times driven by not being concise or direct. And I don’t mean that I should’ve been as direct as “Hi, my name is Christian and boy oh boy, I’m not gay at all!” or “Hi there, nice to meet you! One interesting fact about me is that I L-O-V-E Vagina! Yum, Yum, Yum!” No, what I mean is that instead of saying “we” to describe our family, I could’ve maybe expanded on the structure of our family, highlighting your sister and your Mom as part of the equation.
Lennon, we all walk a fine line in regards to the way we communicate. Some people are naturally opaque while others are maddening in their needless oversharing. The key is to find your sweet spot as a communicator and then consistently refine it. I’ve made a living out of finding that sweet spot in a professional setting and I think I do a decent job in my private life. Clearly though, as a gay father of an adopted brown baby, I have some work to do…
I love you,