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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “A perfect, normal family”

    Sam Feldmancolumnist
    Sam Feldman
    columnist

    Welcome to the Family Weekend edition of the Arizona Daily Wildcat. For the family members of a student reading this special edition, I say welcome to our university! Now, stop reading this column.

    Seriously, why are you still reading?

    This column is for you students out there who need to know how to deal with that odd family of yours. Not to sound too high and mighty, but I can explain how you can avoid feeling embarrassed by your family.

    You must, young grasshopper, think of your family as the reference point for all things normal.

    To misquote the late Rodney Dangerfield, “”Take my family…please!””

    To begin, I am a young gay man with a pot-smoking older brother and two lovely parents. My mom is disabled from an accident and my father married one woman, turned gay, then met my mother and married her. After 25 years, they are still married, monogamous and sexually active – believe me, I hear about it.

    My family also includes my son, Rian Seacrest – a Beagle-Rottweiler mix named after the media mogul and host of “”American Idol.”” My mother calls him her grandson, my father says we’re crazy and my brother is too high to notice. It’s OK, he laughs at the joke anyway.

    The mother of my puppy, Becky, is my roommate. She shares my sentiments of having what she would describe as a slightly abnormal family. Her grandmother raised her in China from age 2 to 4 before she entered kindergarten in Phoenix speaking no English. She still claims her language skills are behind because of her late start.

    However, she now speaks two languages fluently – assuredly, that is something of which she should be proud. Is her family abnormal? Not to her. We monolinguists should be considered deficient and abnormal.

    When you think of it that way, my childhood is a picture of normal – I feel like it could be a spinoff of “”Leave it to Beaver.”” Like Ward Cleaver, my dad has worked all my life in the same job. Unlike father Cleaver, it was at Planned Parenthood in Phoenix. My father runs the abortion program and walks across a protest line every day.

    I have fond memories of visiting him at work as a child, with the protestors shouting, “”Aren’t you glad your daddy didn’t abort you?”” I was confused, but by the age of 7 I could accurately draw the female genitalia and describe an abortion.

    My father is also a college professor, certified professional counselor and licensed massage therapist. He taught me great study skills, wonderful coping mechanisms and how to give an effective massage. Each serves the perfect purpose in school, in life and in bed, respectively.

    Parents can teach no more universal tools than those. We just all learn them in a different way. It’s what our families teach us, and not how we learn, that is most important.

    It’s all in how we react to life’s difficulties. For example, my co-worker, Dezerea, is in her mid-20s and is the mother of four beautiful children. She, her four children, her husband, her brother, her sister and her sister’s three children all live in the same house. It’s chaotic and there’s always something happening in that house.

    But not only does she “”deal”” with the situation, she does not seem to mind it too much. She loves her family deeply, obviously, and she cares for all of them while working a full-time job.

    When I complain about being hung over or “”sooo busy this weekend,”” she reminds me that she has 11 people in her house. And then I begin to think about all of the amazing things that come with having a large family – connection, love and pride. For that, I admire her for her own normalcy.

    Like Becky and Dezerea, we must each find how our family can be its own reference for normal.

    When talking to men I meet at bars and clubs (before they know they are one-night stands), I always love hearing about their families. Does he have any brothers and sisters? Are his parents still married? How much money do they have? Answer that last one correctly and I may be interested in joining that wonderful, normal family.

    Family is, ultimately, the one thing that defines us that we can never change. Whether we like it or not, we are stuck with the parents who raised us. I am just lucky to have learned how to love the normalness of my family.

    Sam Feldman is a junior majoring in political science and Spanish. He can be reached at letters@email.arizona.edu

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