I was five years old when I logged my first memory. I don't remember it well, but what I do remember most out of it was that I had my dads. They were all I ever needed in my life to make me happy. Even though I was five, I was happy with that simple fact.
I started remembering more things when I turned eight and was in elementary school. I had never known I was different except for the fact that most people had a Mom and Dad and I had Pops and Dad.
I remembered my third grade teacher asking to speak with my parents because I had failed a math test, something I knew Dad would be really disappointed in. I had begged her not to call them, but she did and I had to wait until school was let out for my parents to arrive.
My teacher and I didn't speak until Pops opened the door followed by Dad. I looked down at my desk already feeling the wrath. "Hey, Pete," Pops said coming to sit in the desk next to mine. I looked up teary-eyed. I had never done anything wrong until this point, and I sure as hell didn't fail in math. "C'mon now, don't cry, everyone makes mistakes," Pops reassured me wiping the tears from my eyes. Dad, however, didn't say anything.
I snuck a peek at him looking for some sort of hope, but all I could see was his straight-lined mouth and dark eyes. Pops never scared me, even when he was angry, but Dad, well he's like Satan when he's angry.
The teacher explained my low test score and how I'd been having more difficulty in math than the other kids. I didn't know what it meant at the time, because all I saw it as was failure.
We got up to leave, Pops grabbed my backpack, and we headed out to the car. "We've been helping him with his homework every night, I don't understand why he's not grasping it." Dad stated rather bluntly.
"He could have gotten it from me, I suck at numbers," Pops defended.
"Right. Cause you're his biological father. Maybe we should get him a proper tutor. Maybe I can put Jarvis back into a body and he can help Pete,"
"Tony, I'll forget the jab at being his real father, but I think we should sit down with him tonight with his homework and ask if he's getting it. We haven't tried that, y'know, all we've done is tell him how to do it. I don't think we're getting the information across clearly enough for him,"
Dad didn't say anything else on the ride home. As soon as we got to our house he left to the lab in the basement like he did everyday. Pops set my backpack on the kitchen table and motioned me over. I sat down at the table and he sat next to me. "Is Dad mad at me?" I remember asking quite clearly.
"No, no, no, of course not, Peter, he's just…he's just your Dad. That's how he is. He sees you as being the perfect and cherished one in the family, and I know this may not make sense to you, Pete, but know this: he looks up to you, as weird as that may sound. You always cheer him on, you do what's asked of you, and you always mind your manners. Dad just doesn't really…do any of those things without being threatened or forced. You're doing perfectly, you hear? Don't for one second think that either of us is mad at you for a silly grade,"
He didn't think I'd understand, but I remember what he'd said and as I grew a little older I began to put the pieces more together.
Then I remembered my tenth birthday. It was a horrible nightmare that I wish I'd forget. It wasn't the 'I'm so embarrassed this has scarred me forever' type of horrible nightmare, no, this was…well…this:
I had a few of my friends over for a small party. I had a cake, a few gifts, and I was happy to know my Dads were there the entire time. They took pictures, helped make some punch, and chatted with the other parents in the backyard when all the cooking had been done.
We were sitting at the picnic table eating hotdogs when one of my friends asked, "What's it like having two dads?"
I simply replied, "I don't know what you mean,"
He said, "Well, my Mom is having a baby. Can either of your dads do that?"
I thought about it, "I'm not sure. I've never asked," so I got up and tugged on Pops's shirt. "Pops, can you or Dad have a baby?" I asked.
The other parents snickered and Dad looked down at me and shook his head, "No, we can't,"
With my new information I rushed back over to my friends and said, "Nope. They can't have a baby,"
The other boys starred at me for a moment and another one asked, "Then how were you born?"
I thought about this and stopped eating my hotdog. I grew curious. My friends were right, how could I be born if they couldn't have kids? So I went up to Pops again, tugged on his shirt, and asked "How was I born?" I asked not relaying the question properly.
Pops stared at me hard and bent down to pick me up. "We'll talk about that later, okay?" he asked forcing a smile. Dad looked at Pops with something in his eye that I couldn't read.
My friends, for some reason, didn't include me in the rest of my birthday activities. Everyone left at around 3pm and I sat under my favorite tree licking a grape-flavored Popsicle. I was upset by how my friends had treated me, but I had my Popsicle and I was trying to enjoy that.
Dad came over and sat next to me, "That good?" he asked and I nodded. "Can I taste?" he asked. I handed him my treat and he took a lick and nodded, "It's good."
"Technically you didn't say anything, you just nodded," he smirked and I chuckled sucking on my treat again. "Your Pops and I want to talk about what you asked earlier," he said quietly almost sounding like he was trying to avoid it.
"Okay," I said fighting back a cry. I was secluded from all the events the past two hours and now I was getting new news. My little ten-year-old body wouldn't be able to handle much more.
"Well, your Pops and I…can't have kids. Do you know why?" he asked.
"No." I answered.
"Oh God, you really need to wait a couple of years for sex-ed, Steve, he's not ready!" he yelled at the house. I saw Pops through the kitchen window where he put his two fingers up to his eyes and directed them to Dad. "Alright, alright," he sighed pinching the bridge of his nose. "Okay, so-" and he proceeded to give me a quick lesson on how this thing called 'sex' lead to a girl getting pregnant with a baby and only girls can get pregnant with babies. "Do you see? Your Pops and I aren't girls and we can't have our own kids.
"So…what am I? Am I an alien?" I asked.
Dad snorted a laugh and tried to get serious again, "What? No, Peter, you're not an alien. You're…you're…uh…" he sighed and looked at me, "You're adopted."
"What does that mean?" I asked. "Is that an alien planet I'm from?'
Dad smirked again but quickly distilled it, "You have…another Mom and Dad somewhere else who, um, God how can I say this nicely to you?" he fumbled for words and you could see he was obviously struggling.
"Another…Mom and dad?" I asked feeling my stomach sink. The popsicle no longer was appetizing.
"They didn't want me?"
"I can't do this by myself," Dad stated getting up and rushing into the kitchen pulling Pops outside with him, but I was already standing with my grape deliciousness sitting in the dirt.
"Why didn't they want me?" I asked feeling that cry creep into my throat.
"Not everyone is nice, Peter," Pops said quietly. "But we wanted you," I started to cry. Not that my Dads adopted me or the fact that someone didn't want me, but the fact that my Dads weren't my real Dads sent me over the edge. I didn't have Dad's eyes or Pops's nose like they'd told me, I didn't have anything of theirs except their last name.
I ran past them and out the front door and down the street. I could see Pops chasing after me and I cried until he caught up with me. "God you run fast!" he exclaimed picking me up. I sobbed into his chest and then realized if the only thing I had of my parents was their last name, then I'd die to that last name.