Meet the New Lover
ⓒ christina starr
Xtra! May 24, 2000
                                                                                                christinastarr.ca
                                                                                  back to Visibly A Parent           home  |  bio  |  film |  theatre/performance  |  writing  |  editing  |  upcoming  |  contact  

The question often arises for me about when to introduce a new lover to my daughter. It isnt a question specific to me, of course, or even to queers. But it tends not to surface in the straight, nuclear, one-partner-per-household version of things. In that version, when theres new lover involved you sure better hope your out-of-the-mouths-of-babes babe doesnt find out about it.
          After the first night is not the right time. The first night might not be any more than that and there
s no point in confusing the poor girl (or the poor girl in my bed). Much as Ive tried to set an upstanding example, my daughter has absorbed the ridiculous notion that if you have sex with someone you are in love with them.
          I don
t try too hard to correct her. For now, its her way of simplifying things and, besides, if we were really going to have a conversation about it wed have to get into all the real reasons people have sex. Her introductory book on the subject (on her shelf beside Madison Mouse Moves to the Country) says its like climbing up the ladder of a big slide and whooshing down.
          But if I keep finding myself sharing the sheets with the same woman eventually my daughter has to be told. There might be a loose sock or pair of underwear lying around that she knows isn
t mine. She might want to know why theres a bottle of soda water and more than one glass on my bedside table. And she often wants to know why Im not home when she phones me in the morning, and where exactly Ive been. (You know the feeling... when youve gone home to visit your mom and have the mixed fortune of not being in the right bed in the morning.)
          But I need to fess up for reasons other than keeping my house tidy and my life accountable. First of all, it
s like a fair warning, so the little ship of my daughters life doesnt capsize when Ms New-Interest hangs out with us and she and I embrace or kiss each other. Sometimes its about wanting to spend more time with a lover and so dragging her along to the latest dinosaur installation at the museum. More importantly, its so my daughter hears the information from me, so she can continue to trust what I tell her and doesnt get churned in the mill of rumour and gossip.
          It
s also so she knows that active sexuality is part of a healthy adult life. I dont want to follow the straight model where mommy and daddy always sleep in the same bed and no one ever says why, sex is something dirty people do, and getting lucky means opening a kinder egg and finding a toy you didnt already have.
          I suppose the same question of when to talk about a lover arises for other queers, but in the form of when to call it serious. When to tell your friends?
          Except a child isn
t going to give you the high five and then want to sit down with a beer and whistle over all the juicy details. Telling a child isnt like telling your parents either because your kid will quite likely want to continue with the subject. It has tinges of telling a past lover because theres the possibility that someones going to feel replaced. It has shades of telling your roommate (if they sleep soundly enough not to have guessed already) because its like telling them it might not be you coming out of the bathroom in the morning.
          But in the amount of comfort you feel making the confession, how you
ll have to own the relationship by admitting it, and the length of conversation you may end up having, telling your child about a new lover is probably most like telling your therapist.
          You can see why I
d mull it over carefully. Like therapists, most children are comfortable asking direct questions. They expect that what you answer is the truth. If you are evasive about the details they wont hesitate to ask you to clarify. Afterwards, they remember things so well its as if they went to their room and took notes.
          So I can
t take it lightly, though I cant leave it too long either because, in my case, my daughters likely to ask the question herself (of either me or the new lover, shes not particular). And I cant leave out significant parts of my life for too long. If I want her to trust me enough to tell me the latest in playground liaisons, then Id better be prepared to let her know whos playing in my sandbox.
          So far, my daughter
s never too fazed by the news and is usually gracious and welcoming. Im starting to wonder, though, what it might be like when she figures out what whooshing down is, and what exactly is involved in climbing up the ladder.

back to Visibly A Parent

Sometimes it's about wanting to spend more time with a lover and so dragging her along to the latest dinosaur installation at the museum.