The Lernier Family
© 2011 Russ Nielsen
All Rights Reserved




Chapter 20: Mrs. Reed

I sat next to Mrs. Reed as she spoke into the microphone and looked into the webcam.   "I remember the day you born, Kyle.   Your parents were so excited.   Your Dad was so proud of his baby boy.   He bought cigars and handed them out to everyone at his office.   It was a long labor and delivery for your mother.   Her water broke early in the afternoon but after 12 hours of labor the doctors decided to do an emergency C-Section.   Your father sat in the operating room holding your mother's hand as he watched you waving your arms in the air as soon as the doctors had made the incision to get you out.   He recounted the story of how you came into this world to anyone who would listen."  

She stopped and looked over at me, "Should I record more about Kyle?"

"It is totally up to you, Mom," I said.   Mrs. Reed had insisted that Rick and I start calling her Mom since the adoption had gone through.   As Mrs. Reed continued her narration, my mind went back to that special day two weeks ago.   We sat in the courtroom and waited for our petition to be presented to the judge.  

Judge Judy Mitchell had requested that the children meet with her in her office.   Kyle, David and Ashley had looked at us uncertain of what to do, "Go ahead and follow the Judge," Rick said.

Mrs. Reed smiled, "Don't be afraid.   The Judge won't hurt you."

Kyle looked at his Grandma and rolled his eyes.   He said, "I know, Grandma."  

She caught his hand and said, "I know that you know but this is a big step for all of you.  Please be courteous and respectful."

Kyle nodded his head, "I'm sorry, Grandma.   I didn't mean to be disrespectful to you but sometimes you treat me like a little kid and I'm not little anymore."

Mrs. Reed looked up at him, "No you're not little anymore."

Kyle had shot up a few more inches since the beginning of the school year.   He stood at 5'9" (175 cm.) and weighed 155 lbs. (70 Kg.).   His round, baby face had thinned out and become the face of a very handsome young man.   His friends on the football team had started calling him "Potter" because he looked so much like the Harry Potter character from the movies.   As I looked at Kyle, I had to agree with his schoolmates – he did look a lot like the actor who played Harry Potter! 

Working out with the football team had helped Kyle realize his goal of becoming physically fit.   Kyle is already lifting more weight than I; a fact that he has become quite proud of and won't let me forget!   Fortunately, Rick still has him beat in the weight lifting department!   Kyle looked over at me and I said, "Give your Grandma a kiss and follow the Judge."

He leaned over and kissed Mrs. Reed on the cheek.   David and Ashley did the same and followed Kyle across the courtroom.   They disappeared into the Judge's chambers.

I looked over at Rick who smiled at me.   He squeezed my hand and said, "It's going to be okay, Glenn."

"I know but I am still nervous," I said.   "We have been through so much to get to this point."

JJ and Josh sat quietly next to us.   Rick and I had dressed them in their matching three piece suits for today.  Both boys were super excited.   This morning they marched around the house with a big sign they had made that said, "Welcome to our family Kyle, David and Ashley."   Mrs. Reed and I had helped them make the sign yesterday.   It was supposed to be a surprise for the children when we returned from the courthouse, but the twins couldn't wait to show off their handiwork!  

Josh climbed down from the bench and climbed up on my lap.   "Daddy, when are Kyle, David and Ashley coming back?"

It had only been a few minutes since they left.   Josh's question made me smile.   "They will be back in a few minutes, Josh."

Mrs. Reed looked at the clock on the wall and then glanced at the two handsome men and their twin boys sitting next to her.   She thought to herself, "I have made the right choice for my grandchildren.   These two men love them.   I knew they adored the children before they moved in with me but now I have witnessed it up close and personal these last few weeks."

Her mind flew backwards in time as she remembered everything that had happened since the car accident that had so suddenly taken her son and his wife from her.   When Mrs. Evans had visited her and told her the news, she had been completely devastated.   Mrs. Evans had taken her hand as she lay in the hospital bed at the rehabilitation center and said, "Don't fret about the children, dear.   I have arranged for them to stay with a wonderful couple who live near their school.   They have twin baby boys and I think you will absolutely adore them.   I know I do."

Mrs. Reed had smiled weakly and replied, "Thank you for watching over my grandchildren.   I am their only living relative."

"I do have to tell you that the couple is a gay couple.   They are wonderful men and they have a wonderful family.   Are you okay with letting them stay in their home until you can leave here?" Mrs. Evans asked.

She had been shocked to learn that the social worker had placed her grandchildren with two gay men.   Weren't gay men supposed to be sexual predators and pedophiles?   Everything she had heard about gays had been negative.   Her face must have given her away because Mrs. Evans said, "I will bring them to meet you and you can decide for yourself.   If you decide against letting the children stay with them, I will work to find another home for them."

She had said, "Okay."   They had chatted and Mrs. Evans had left.  Later, when she had returned to with Rick and Glenn, she had already made up her mind against them but after looking into their eyes she realized that she needed to give them a chance.   She listened to them talk about the children and how they were handling the death of their parents.   She saw that these two men had already bonded with her grandchildren in the short time they had been with them.   She had had a change of heart and agreed to let the children stay.

Then her mind moved to her conversation with Ashley this morning:

Mrs. Reed had spent the morning helping Ashley get ready.   Mrs. Reed said, "You are such a lovely girl, Ashley.   You look just like your mother."

Ashley said, "Mommy was very pretty.   I miss her, Grandma."

"I know you do, dear," Mrs. Reed said.   "I miss her, too.   It's a good thing we have lots of photographs of her.   Your father loved her so much and took lots of photos of her."

"My favorite one is of Mommy holding me in my christening dress.   She looks so happy and I can tell she loves me so much," Ashley said.   She pointed to the framed photo on her bedroom wall.   "Dad had it enlarged and framed for me."

Mrs. Reed looked at the photo and smiled, "Yes, your father loved that photo as well.   He gave me a copy of it to hang on my wall.   He said that now he had two women in his life and that he could die a happy man."

Ashley looked into her Grandma's face and said, "It's okay to cry, Grandma."

Mrs. Reed took Ashley into her arms and held her tight as her tears ran down her cheeks.   "I miss your Mom and Dad so much, Ashley."  

"I know, Grandma.   We all do," Ashley said, patting her Grandma on the back as she tried to comfort her.

Mrs. Reed wiped the tears from her eyes and kissed Ashley on the cheek.   "Thank you for being such a wonderful granddaughter, Ashley.   I wish that I could stop time and that we could be together forever like we have the last few weeks."

Ashley smiled, "I told the boys that very same thing just yesterday, Grandma.   Dad and Daddy have made things so wonderful for us since they came to live with us.   I love the twins so much and helping you record your life history has been so much fun."

"It has been fun, hasn't it?" Mrs. Reed asked.

Ashley nodded her head, "Especially since Daddy helped you with your family tree.   You know that he loves you Grandma.  He told me that while we worked on your photo albums together last week.   We labeled each photo and wrote up stories for each one so we could remember where the photo was taken and why.   I feel so close to my Mom and Dad when I read those stories you helped us write.   I especially like the photos of Dad riding his pony all dressed up like a cowboy when he was little."

Mrs. Reed said, "I knew that would be your favorite story, Ashley.   You like horses so much."   She looked around Ashley's room.   There were several framed photos of horses on the walls along with a horse calendar.   The bed was covered with stuffed horses of various sizes and colors.   On her bookshelf were books like "Misty of Chincoteague" and "Black Beauty" along with DVDs about horses.   On her dresser was a photograph of Ashley on a horse.   She smiled as she remembered the surprise on Ashley's face when Rick and Glenn had told her last Christmas that they had arranged for riding lessons for her.  

Her attention returned to Ashley and she asked, "Am I making the right decision, Ashley?   Are Rick and Glenn the right parents for you and the boys?"

Ashley thought for a moment, her brow furrowed in thought.   She said seriously, "Yes, it is the right decision.   Kyle, David and I talked about this when we moved here.   Dad and Daddy told us that it was our decision to stay with them or not.   They told us they loved us but would stand by us no matter what decision we made.   They talked about everything that would happen and helped us understand what our options were and what they called the pros and cons of each one, Grandma."

Mrs. Reed raised her eyebrows in surprise.   She had never thought to ask the children what they wanted.   She had assumed that what she was doing was mostly her decision not theirs.   Her respect and admiration for Rick and Glenn grew immensely at that moment.   Oh, she already loved them and knew that they would make good parents for her grandchildren but now she knew for certain she was making the right choice for them.   "So what did you decide?" she asked.

We decided that we wanted to be adopted by them because they love us and want the best for us.   Kyle said he loves them because he can talk to them and they listen to him.   David said he doesn't want any more changes.   He loves his new Dads and wants things to stay the same.   David said he especially likes the fact that they are smart and they can talk to him about the things he likes.   He said he can't be bother wasting his time talking to other people since they don't know anything."

Mrs. Reed laughed, "That is so David!   I know he has told me a time or two that I need to become more educated so I can talk to him about important things like Einstein's theories and such.   What about you, Ashley?"

"I decided that I want to stay with them because they know how to love each of us individually.   It's like they know what each of needs, Grandma.   I overheard them talking about us and how they needed to talk to us one at time and decide what would be best for us.   They want us to become the best we can be, Grandma.   They even said they would take us to church if that is what we wanted."

Mrs. Reed's eyes misted over as she realized that Rick and Glenn were willing to put aside their animosity towards religion and wouldn't stop her grandchildren from growing spiritually.   She had meant to talk to them about religion but hadn't worked up enough courage to bring up the subject with them.   It was a relief to her that they had already discussed the topic with the children.   "What did they say about taking you to church?"

Ashley said, "They said they would take us and would support us if that is what we wanted to do.   Did you know that they read the Bible together every Sunday, Grandma?"

"No, I didn't," Mrs. Read said in astonishment.   She had heard them argue about religion many times and this new revelation reassured her that she had indeed made the right decision.   "But they don't seem to like religion."

Ashley nodded her head, "You are right about that part, Grandma.   They told us they believed in God but not necessarily in those men who claim to be his representatives here on earth."

"Why did they talk about religion with you children?" Mrs. Reed asked.

"They talked about it because I asked them about going to church.   I like going there and being with my church friends.   It's important to me, Grandma.   I feel closer to God when we go.   I like the big stained glass windows and hearing the choir sing.   I like being there.   I feel so peaceful there.   I told Dad and Daddy that I want to keep going there," Ashley said.

"And what did they say?" Mrs. Reed asked.

"They said they would make sure I could keep going there if that is what I wanted.   They said they wouldn't necessarily go with me but that they would talk to the pastor about it and make arrangements for me to attend church services every Sunday," Ashley said.

Mrs. Reed's thoughts were brought back to present by JJ who had taken her hand and was looking worriedly into her face.   "Grandma, are you okay?" he asked.

She smiled at this little boy who had worked his way so easily into her heart, "Yes, I am just fine, JJ."

JJ asked, "May I sit on your lap, Grandma?"  

She responded, "Of course, JJ."

She leaned over and helped him up.   He snuggled close to her and leaned his head against her chest.   She and JJ had grown particularly close lately.   He seemed to sense when she needed to be hugged.   Many times when she was feeling depressed or just didn't feel well, JJ would come into her room and climb up on her bed and wrap his little arms around her neck.   He would kiss her cheek and say, "I love you, Grandma."   She would wrap her arms around his little body and hug him.   This small boy had so much love in his tiny body that she couldn't stay depressed or feel sick with him next to her.   She called JJ her "miracle" boy because he seemed to always be able to help her forget the pain she felt whether it was physical or emotional.   When she first called him her "miracle" boy, he had laughed and said, "I'm not a miracle.   I'm just happy, that's all."   He kissed her on the cheek and handed her a book to read to him.   "Will you read this story to me?"

She had smiled and replied, "Of course."

The story was called, "Love You Forever," by Robert Munsch.   She began reading the story about a mother who sits in a rocking chair and sings to her baby son, "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, As long as I'm living my baby you'll be….."   When she reached the end where the grown son lifts his ailing mother into his arms and sits in the rocking chair and sings, "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, As long as I'm living my mommy you'll be….," tears started rolling down her cheeks as she struggled to finish reading the story.  

When she closed the book, JJ turned around on her lap and put his arms around her neck and said, "I will love you forever, Grandma."  He kissed her cheek and then put his head on her shoulder.   She held him tight as he patted her back with his little hands and said, "Don't be sad, Grandma.   Dad will rock you just like the son did with his Mommy in the story.   Dad said so last night when I asked him if he was going to rock you to sleep when you get too sick to get out of bed."

Coming back to the present, she looked over at Rick and Glenn as Judge Mitchell announced her decision.   The twins clapped their hands for joy but were quickly quieted by the adults.   Judge Mitchell smiled, "The Clerk of the Court will provide you with your copies of the adoption papers."   She went on to talk to the children and to Rick and Glenn about the follow up visits that the social workers would be making to ensure that everything was going well.  Those visits would last for 90 days and then there wouldn't be any additional visits.   The adoption papers were signed and the Clerk of the Court handed them their official adoption papers.   One set for Mrs. Reed and one for Rick and Glenn.

They followed their lawyers out of the courtroom and into the hallway.   Rick and Glenn thanked their lawyers.   The social workers who had done the home studies were also present.   They came over and Mrs. Prebich said, "Congratulations children!   We are happy you have two new Dads to take care of you."

Kyle smiled and said, "Thank you, Mrs. Prebich."   He remembered the heated discussion he had with her over gay marriage and specifically his gay Dads.   She had been extremely prejudiced against them in the beginning.   When the social workers had asked him questions, he had confronted them about their predisposition to recommend against adoption because his Dads were gay.   He had pushed them hard to justify their points of view and in the end, he had proven that their assumptions were incorrect.

Mrs. Prebich shook David's hand.   He said, "I hope you aren't planning to do us harm when you visit us over the next 90 days.   I know how you feel about gay parents and I am not convinced you mean us no harm."  She looked like she had been slapped.   Before she could answer, David continued, "I am not stupid, Mrs. Prebich.   You should be the first one to acknowledge the fact that I am much more intelligent than you are and that I am quite capable of communicating with your superiors on my own behalf if you decide to try to do us harm.   I have a photographic memory, Mrs. Prebich, and I can produce recorded evidence of your homophobic comments if needed."

Despite her shock at his statements, she managed to ask, "How can you prove any of this?"

"I videotaped all of the conversations you had with us, Mrs. Prebich," David said.   He looked her in the eyes, "Let's just say I took some precautions against prejudicial treatment in the adoption process.   I may be young and inexperienced, Mrs. Prebich, but don't let that blind you to the fact that I can defend myself."

 She said, "I doubt that it will ever come to that, David.   I believe that your new Dads will provide you with a good home."

David smiled, "I agree with you, Mrs. Prebich.   Thank you for working with us to make this happen."

She smiled and then moved on to shake Ashley's hand, "Congratulations, dear."

Ashley smiled and said, "Thank you, Mrs. Prebich."

After the social workers left, the children hugged Mrs. Reed and then hugged me and Rick.   Josh asked, "It's official now isn't it?"

Mrs. Reed said, "Yes, it's official.   Kyle, David and Ashley are officially your brothers and sister."

JJ and Josh chorused, "Yeah!"   The both hugged their new siblings and then JJ turned to Rick and asked, "Does this mean they get a new birthday?"

Rick laughed, "Only if they want a new one.   I think we should celebrate today as family day instead because we are a new family today."

Kyle said, "I can't wait to tell my friends.   Kyle Reed Lernier just sounds too cool!"

"David Reed Lernier is even cooler though," David said grinning at his older brother.

"I have you both beat because Ashley Reed Lernier is better than any boy's name," Ashley announced with a wide grin.

The boys looked like they were going to argue with her when Mrs. Reed said, "Children your new last name means you are now a complete family with parents, siblings and grandparents."

Kyle thought about it for a moment, "Yeah, that's true Grandma.   We have Grandpa and Grandma Nielsen and Great Grandpa and Great Grandma Scarborough, too."

We left the courthouse and made our way out to our cars.   We celebrated by going out for lunch.   We then went home.   The children changed their clothes and we started our normal study hall in the kitchen after dropping Kyle off at football practice.

Mrs. Reed had pulled out a photograph of Kyle.   She looked at me and explained, "Kyle liked playing with his little friends across the hall from my son's apartment.   Their mother taught ballet and was teaching her 18-month old daughter how to do some of the ballet moves.  Kyle insisted that she let him participate so she slipped this little yellow tutu over his blue blanket sleeper."  

I laughed and said, "Kyle would absolutely die if he knew you were sharing this photo with me."

Mrs. Reed said, "I know he would but it is part of my memories of him.   I want you to scan it in for me."

I nodded my head, "Sure.   I will make sure there are multiple copies of it just in case Kyle decides to try and delete it."

Mrs. Reed said, "That would be a wise thing to do."

She continued narrating her memories of Kyle as a little boy.   A few hours later, the children arrived home from school.   I went into the kitchen and pulled out chocolate chip cookies and milk.   Ashley and David sat down with their backpacks.   Ashley smiled, "I love coming home to cookies and milk."

David agreed, "You are so awesome, Daddy."

I said, "Thank you, David.  You both need to give your Grandma a hug."   I turned to David, "Here is a plate of cookies for her and a glass of milk."

The two disappeared from the kitchen.   I listened as they greeted their grandmother.   Then I heard them laugh.   They came back into the kitchen and Ashley asked, "Did you see the photo of Kyle in his little yellow tutu?"

"Yes, I did," I replied.   "I don't think you should tease him about it though.   He will be very angry if you do."  

Ashley smiled innocently at me, "I would never tease my brother."

David and I broke out laughing.   "Yeah, right!" David guffawed.

I said, "I am sure you would NEVER think of teasing your brother."   I grinned and placed a plate of cookies in the center of the table and two glasses of milk.

They sat down and pulled out their homework as they munched on the cookies and drank their milk.   Over the child monitor I heard the twins talking so I went upstairs and opened their door.   I looked inside and saw that they were busy drawing picture at their desks.   I asked, "Do you two want cookies and milk?"

Josh immediately got up and raced across the room, "Yeah!"   As he tried to rush past me, I said, "Hold on there, sport!   You forgot something!"

He looked up at me and held his arms up and exclaimed, "Hug!"

I leaned over and picked him up and hugged him and gave him a kiss on the cheek.   "Now you can go downstairs and get your cookies and milk.   They are waiting for you on the kitchen table."

I put him down and he ran into the hallway and down the stairs.   JJ kept drawing.   I walked over to his little table and looked over his shoulder to see what he was working on so intently.

JJ looked up and said, "I am drawing a picture of our family.   Ashley helped me draw it.   She showed me how to draw the people."   He held up a couple of pieces of drawing paper with step by step instructions showing how to draw people.   "These are my people," he said pointing to his paper.   "I started out by tracing over the lines like Ashley did.   She has an artist book that shows you how to draw."

I was totally surprised because JJ had never expressed an interest in drawing.   His normal method of drawing was taking a crayon and scribbling as fast as he could to cover the surface of the paper.   Staying inside the lines wasn't even a consideration, yet, here he was tracing over the people Ashley had drawn for him.   "I am glad Ashley helped you," I said.

JJ looked at me, "Ashley likes showing me things.   She said she likes being a big sister.   She told me she has always been the youngest and now Josh is the youngest."

"Do you want some cookies and milk?" I asked.

JJ said, "Yes, but I want to finish drawing my picture first so I can show it to Ashley."

"Okay, I will save you some cookies and milk," I said.   I ruffled his hair and leaned over and kissed his cheek.   He looked up at me and said, "I love you, Daddy."

"I love you, too, JJ," I said smiling at him.

I left him to draw and returned to the kitchen.   Josh was just finishing his cookies and was reaching for JJ's plate of cookies.   I managed to rescue the cookies and said, "Okay, cookie monster!   You have to ask if you want more cookies!"

Josh looked up at me and said, "More cookies, please!"

"Okay, Josh, you can have three more but that is all for today," I said.

Ashley asked, "May we have more cookies, too?"

"Sure, it's only fair that everyone get the same number of cookies.   Right, Josh?" I asked.

Josh nodded his head but didn't respond since his mouth was full.  I put out more cookies and poured more milk into their glasses.  

Ashley and David finished their homework just as JJ came down with his drawing.   He walked over to Ashley and showed it to her.   Ashley smiled at JJ and said, "You did a great job, JJ."  

JJ looked like he had won the lottery.   He smiled and said, "I just did what you showed me.   I traced the lines like you did."

I put JJ's cookies and milk on the table and he sat down next to Ashley.   I watched with interest as Ashley took out her art book and they started going over how to draw animals, birds, trees and plants.   I left them in the kitchen and rejoined Mrs. Reed in the family room where she had continued to narrate her life story.   She had spread out photographs of David and Ashley in front her on portable card table we had set up for her.   She was speaking into the microphone and looking into the webcam as I entered.   I sat down across from her and listened.

"David, you were a very colicky baby your first few weeks of life.   You screamed non-stop for two hours every night from 9 PM to 11 PM.   We could always tell what time it was every night because you would start to scream exactly as the hour struck 9.   When you turned two months old, it stopped and you have been fine since that day.   However, you sure did put us through quite a performance every night for weeks.   Your parents felt bad for their neighbors in the apartment building where they lived but there was nothing they could do to stop you from screaming since your tummy hurt. 

Your Dad called you his bouncer because you were always bouncing up and down on your feet.   You would crouch down close to the floor and jump up and shout, "See how high I can jump!"   You were only 18 months old then.   Later, when you were 4 or 5 years old, you were a major escape artist!   You liked riding your tricycle on the sidewalk in front of my home and you would disappear down the street following the sidewalk.   We had to lock the gate to the backyard to keep you from taking off down the street.   You were so determined to ride your tricycle on the sidewalk that you tried taking your tricycle through the house and out the front door.   The only thing that stopped you from making a clean get away was the alarm system.   It went off when you opened the front door and I knew right away that you were trying to escape with your tricycle!"

She stopped and looked over at me, "I found more photos of the children.   Here is one of David in his bouncer mode and another with his tricycle.   Here are some photos of Ashley with her father.   She has always been a Daddy's girl.   He rocked her to asleep every night until she was nearly 5 years old.   They were very close.   Ashley was an early walker.   They moved into a three story home from their tiny apartment and she started walking the day they moved.   Ashley was the glue that held the family together.   Everyone doted on her and she in turned loved them.   Little JJ reminds me a lot of Ashley when she was his age."

We heard the door open and Kyle announced, "I'm home, Grandma!"

"I'm in the family room, Kyle," she responded.

Kyle did this every night when he arrived home from football practice.   He walked into the family room.   His hair was still wet from the shower he took after practice.   He dropped his backpack on the couch and walked over and kissed his Grandma on the cheek.   "Hi Grandma!   What are you working on today?" he asked.

She picked up the photos she had found of him and showed them to Kyle.   Kyle blushed and looked over at me, "You didn't show these to Daddy did you?"

I grinned and said, "Too late!"

"Grandma!   Why are you showing everyone these photos?   They are so embarrassing!" Kyle protested.

"It's okay, Kyle," I said.   "I promise not to tell anyone that you liked dancing in a tutu as a child!"

He looked me in the eyes and begged, "Please say you won't show them to Dad."

I shrugged and grinned, "I won't promise.   I think Dad should have the pleasure of seeing you in your blue blanket sleeper.   You look so cute!"   I stood up and walked over and pulled him into a hug.   "It's okay, Kyle."

He was stiff with indignation at first but then he relaxed and returned my hug.  "I'm sorry, Daddy.   It's just that I had a hard day at school."

I released him and asked, "Do you want to talk about it?"

He nodded his head and said, "But can we talk in private?"

I looked at Mrs. Reed who nodded her head, "Go ahead and take Kyle out for a bite to eat.   I will keep an eye on things here while you're gone."

I nodded my head, "Come on, sport!"

Kyle grinned and replied, "Who is calling who "sport?"

"Alright then, come on squirt!" I replied.

Kyle laughed, "I should call you squirt since I am taller than you are."

"Only in your dreams, buddy boy!" I shot back.

"Seriously, I am taller than you, Daddy," Kyle insisted.

As we got into the Land Rover, I replied, "Yeah! You are taller than I am only when you wear platform shoes!"

Kyle punched me in the shoulder, "Okay, I will admit we are the same height but you have to admit I can bench press more than you can."

"Alright, you managed to lift 10 pounds more than I did last week.   I think that was a fluke.   You know – a stroke of luck," I replied laughing at Kyle's expression.

Kyle started to make an indignant reply but I cut him off, "I'm only teasing you, Kyle.   You did a great job lifting weights last week.   I am glad to see you are making so much progress in that area.   I am only concerned that you don't overdo it while you are still growing so much."

Kyle smiled and nodded his head, "I am trying to make Dad proud of me."

"I know," I replied.   "Just be careful and make sure you follow all the safety rules so you don't injure yourself."

"Do you think Dad is proud of me?" Kyle asked.

"Why are you asking me?   I think you already know the answer, Kyle," I said glancing at him as I pulled into the parking lot of our favorite pizza joint – Mama Lombardi's.   We went inside and ordered a pizza.  After the waiter left us, I said, "You know that your Dad is extremely proud of you.   You don't have to bench press the most or make the most touchdowns.   He is proud of you because you are doing your best.   You don't have to impress, Dad, Kyle," I said.   "He loves you for who you are."

Kyle looked across the table at me and asked, "I want to make you and Dad proud of me.   I don't want to let you down."

I smiled, "I love you, Kyle, but you need to do things because it is what you want to do.   It's dangerous to do things to try and please other people.   You will always be disappointed or hurt when they don't react the way you expect them to or they don't appreciate your efforts to please them.   You need to take your center of control back inside yourself.   Don't let others determine who or what you will be."

Kyle looked at me in surprise, "Are you saying that trying to please you and Dad is a bad thing to do?"

"It is if you are doing it for the wrong reasons.   Whenever you let someone else determine who you are or what you will do, you surrender control of your life to someone else.   That is not healthy.   You should do things because you decide to do them for you.   If doing something pleases your Dad or it pleases me, that should be a secondary benefit not the primary focus.   I am not saying you should be selfish, egotistical or self-centered but I am saying you should be in control of your destiny and make wise decisions about who and what you are."

Kyle said, "I don't understand what you are trying to tell me.   I want you and Dad to be proud of me."

"We are proud of you.   You are working hard at football while maintaining good grades," I said.

Kyle smiled, "That is all I need to know for now, Daddy.   I want to make you both happy."

"You do make us happy, Kyle.   We love you very much," I said.

"I know you do," Kyle said.   "I need your advice, Daddy.   I have been getting a hard on every time I see the cheerleaders practicing on the field with us.   Is that normal?"

His question surprised me but I managed to respond, "Sounds like you are a normal teenage male."

"Sometimes my balls hurt really bad, Daddy.   Is there something wrong with them?" Kyle asked.

"It's perfectly normal for you to see beautiful girls and become sexually aroused.   It is also very normal for your balls to hurt if you are aroused and aren't able to relieve the pressure," I said.

"How do I relieve the pressure in my balls?" Kyle asked.

Our pizza arrived and our conversation stopped while we ate.   We paid our bill and left the restaurant.   We climbed back into the Land Rover and headed back towards home.   "Kyle, the only way I know of relieving blue balls – that's what it's called when your balls hurt like that – is to jerk off," I said.

Kyle said in a surprised voice, "Do you mean masturbate?"

"Yes, that is what I mean," I said.

"But you shouldn't masturbate," Kyle said.

"Then your only other alternative is to let nature take its course," I said.

Kyle asked, "What does that mean?"

"Your body will release the pressure on it's own.   Sometimes you will have wet dreams or you will ejaculate at the slightest provocation – the touch of cloth against your penis or a random thought," I said.   "You have had the sex education classes at school, right?"

Kyle said, "Yes, we had classes on the human reproductive cycle.   But they never talked about blue balls or wet dreams.   They did talk about masturbation though."

"You know the mechanics of having sex then?" I asked.

"More or less, Daddy," Kyle said.   "I am still a virgin.   The guys on the football team tease me a lot because I have never had sex with a girl.   They say I must be gay because I haven't had sex with anyone yet."

"Kyle, I would bet you that most of your teammates are still virgins as well.   I know how most jocks like to brag about their sexual prowess to their teammates.   I wouldn't belief everything they say.   As for you being gay, I think you know that you aren't gay.   You have never shown any interest in guys.   I knew I was gay when I was about ten or eleven years old.   I liked looking at the guys and would get a hard on just thinking about being naked with a guy," I said.

Kyle breathed a sigh of relief, "I thought maybe I was gay like they said."

"Being gay isn't a bad thing, Kyle.   It is who I am.   I am not ashamed of being gay nor should you be if that is who you are," I said.

"Daddy, I don't want to be gay because I don't want to be bullied at school.   I have watched them pick on those guys who have come out as being gay.   I don't want that to happen to me," Kyle said.

"You should stand up for them, Kyle.   Tell your teammates they are wrong to bully other people because they are different than they are," I said.

"But what if they start bullying me?" he asked.

"Then we start taking things to the school administration and to the school board.   We work to educate your schoolmates about what is right and wrong especially with regards to gays.   Is there a gay-straight alliance at your school?" I asked.

"Yes, there is but I haven't attended any of their meetings," Kyle said.

"Maybe you could convince your teammates to join the gay-straight alliance so they can become educated and learn to treat people with respect and dignity," I said.

Kyle asked, "What if I want to have sex with a guy?"

"That would be okay as long as you use a condom.   Remember to always practice safe sex.   It doesn't matter if you are having sex with a guy or a girl, always use a condom to protect yourself.   You don't want to get aids or any other STD," I said.

"One of the seniors approached me and asked me to suck him off.   I told him no but I have thought about it since then and maybe I should have said I would," Kyle said.

"You should only do things if you have decided that is what you want.   Don't do things because someone else wants you to do it," I said.

"How old were you when you had sex for the first time?" Kyle asked.

"I was a senior in high school and I must have been 17 years old at the time," I said.

"Was it with a guy or a girl," Kyle asked.

"I was fucked by a guy my first time.   His name was Ian and he was an exchange student from Norway," I answered.

"How many boyfriends did you have before you married Dad?" Kyle asked.

"Only one because I met your Dad shortly after I graduated from high school.   We became a couple that summer and I have been with him ever since that time," I said.

"How did you know he was the right one for you?" Kyle asked.

"I knew Dad was the man for me because of how I felt when I met him for the first time.   He treated with me kindness and respect from the beginning.   Of course, he was and is the handsomest guy I know," I said.

"He loves you a lot," Kyle said.   "I have watched how he treats you and I want to marry someone who treats me the same way, Daddy."

"I am sure you will find the right person for you, Kyle.   It doesn't matter whether it is a girl or a guy but what will matter is whether or not they love you and do they treat you accordingly," I said.

"Do you think I should have sex with someone just so I can say I am not a virgin?" Kyle asked.

"Honestly, I think you should wait until that special someone comes into your life and sweeps you off of your feet.   Maybe I am being old-fashioned now but I look back on what I did with Ian and sometimes I wish had waited.   Your Dad is so special to me that I wish that I had waited to find him so he could be the first one ever to have sex with me.   Dad is my knight in shining armor, my prince charming so to speak.   I have been living what I call my "and they lived happily ever after," life.   I believe in fairy tales and in love that lasts forever," I said.

Kyle said, "I know.   Dad says you are the romantic one in your relationship."

"I admit it and I am not ashamed to say that I think it has helped keep us together," I said.

"Dad said I needed to talk to you about dating because he wasn't very good at it in high school," Kyle said.

I laughed, "Is that what he said is it?"

Kyle grinned, "Yes, he said it just that way."

We pulled into our driveway and I turned off the engine.   I looked at Kyle, "Let's say that maybe you should wait until you are 16 to start dating.  What do you think?"

Kyle looked at me for a moment, "I am okay with that but what if someone asks me on a date?"

"Ask them to go with a group.   You can always be together as long as you are in a crowd of other young people like yourselves.   I would leave the serious dating thing for later.   You will have a driver's license by then and I think you will know more about what it is you want out of a relationship if you wait a couple of years," I said.

Kyle looked at me and smiled, "Thank you for talking to me, Daddy."  He gave me a hug and then he grinned, "Dad did say you were the best in bed."

I laughed, "As long as that is all he said, I am okay with that."

Kyle laughed, "Dad wouldn't say anything more but he did say you made him very happy."

"Good," I said smiling.   "We need to get you inside and we both need to get ready for bed."

We got out of the car and Kyle came around and gave me a big hug and kiss on the cheek.   "You are the best, Daddy."

"Thank you, son," I replied.   I put my hand on his head and then moved my head closer to his, "I do believe you might be taller but just barely."

Kyle grinned, "I knew it!"

"But that doesn't change anything between us.   Just remember I can still kick your butt in any game of soccer," I said with a grin.

Kyle laughed, "You always have been the best soccer player.   Maybe that's why I needed to play football so I could beat you at something!"

I laughed as we entered the house.   "You need to go say good night to your grandmother."

Kyle said, "Good night, Daddy."

"Good night, Kyle," I replied.

I climbed the stairs to the twins' bedroom while Kyle walked into the family room where I could hear Mrs. Reed still narrating her life story into the microphone.  I opened the door to the twin's room and found them still awake.   "I'm sorry I missed saying prayers with you boys," I said.

JJ said, "It's okay.   Ashley helped us get ready for bed and listened to our prayers.   She told us you were talking to Kyle."

"That is what I was doing," I said.

"I am glad you talked to Kyle," Josh said.   "He needs you, Daddy."

I looked at Josh in surprise, "Why do you say that?"

"He said so.   He said he needs you and Dad," Josh said.

"He's right, Josh, and we need him," I replied.

JJ said, "We all need each other."

"You are right, JJ, we do need each other," I said.   I leaned over and kissed each one on the top of the head.   "It's time to go to sleep now, boys."

"Good night, Daddy," they chorused.

"Good night, boys," I said.   I turned out the light and closed their door.   I crossed the hallway to our bedroom and closed the door.   I flipped on the light and then turned on the baby monitor.   I know that the boys are old enough now that we don't need the baby monitor but I still need it.   I know it doesn't make sense but that is the way things are.

I pulled out my cell phone and dialed Rick's number.   He picked up on the first ring.   I love hearing his voice.   "Hello, Babe," he said.

"How was your day?" I asked.

We talked for over an hour.   When we are done, we exchange good nights and I said, "I love you."

Rick responded, "I love you, too."

Prev To be continued . . .

A Note from Russ:

For absolutely the best pizza anywhere, go to Mama Lombardi's -

(The rest of the menu is pretty good, too.)