TJ has been with us for almost 5 months now. I adore him, his sense of humour and his good nature, he is the best big brother I could ever have wished for my girls and I am grateful for every moment he is part of our family.
TJ's parents live interstate, and although they have a hard time communicating when it comes to feelings and "stuff", they love him very much.
By TJ's own description his parents are, "as straight as I am weird".
TJ has started writing letters to his parents, because phone conversations don't seem to be a great way for them to communicate.
Yesterday he asked to stop by the post office to send them his letter. He was more excited about sending this letter than any of the letters before. He had a big grin on his face and was almost jumping up and down on the spot while he waited for a stamp. He put his letter into the post box and clapped his hands together a few times, by way of send off.
I assumed that being the end of his first week at school, TJ was just excited about sharing this with his parents.
I assumed wrong.
Last night, after the other kids had gone to bed, TJ came and sat beside me.
"Al, there's something I need to tell you."
Uh - oh.
TJ, "In the letter I sent my parents today... I told them I was gay."
TJ, "But I'm not gay."
Me, "Right. That's an interesting thing to tell your parents if you don't think it's true. Why do you think you did that?"
TJ, "Just to see what their reaction would be. It will be big, won't it?"
Me, "I don't know, TJ. It will be a lot for them to process. Do you want them to do all that work processing something about you that might not be true?"
TJ, "Yes. No. I don't know. I want them to think I'm weird like you so I can stay here forever."
Me, "Do you think being gay is weird?"
TJ, "NO! But they do. And if they think I'm too weird they won't want me back."
Me, "I see. TJ, why do you think your parents agreed to let you come and stay here originally?"
TJ, "Because I ran away."
Me, "OK, and why did you run away?"
TJ, "Because I wanted to come stay with you."
Me, "OK. So your parents let you come and stay here, because you wanted to."
TJ, "I guess."
Me, "And when we went down before Christmas and you said you wanted to camp with us and not stay in the house, what did they say?"
TJ, "They said OK."
Me, "Right. So your parents are pretty good at listening to what you want, really, aren't they?"
TJ, "I guess."
Me, "So maybe talking to them about what you want would have been a better way of communicating than telling them something that you thought would get a reaction."
TJ, "Yeah. Probably. [Pause] But telling them I am gay is heaps funner!"
Me, "Is it fun when people lie to you?"
TJ, "No, not really. I shouldn't have lied, should I?"
Me, "It's more important what you choose to do about it now."
TJ, "I could send another letter?"
Me, "Sure. You can send it express post if you like."
TJ, "Yeah! I'll send another letter express post... And I'll say I might be gay, instead!"
Me, *Stifled laughter* "That sounds like a great idea."