Tears, and lots of ’em

Friday, January 13, 2012

As with every day since our family’s transition (trust me, it is not just a George –> Jessie change), both yesterday and today were loaded. And yes, I cried each day.

When I checked my calendar here is what I saw:
9:30 a.m.
Hairut and color (all good) (and long overdue – that damned patch of gray is irritating the hell out of me)

11:15 a.m.
Conference call with the social worker for the GeMS (Gender Management Services Clinic) which was step two in the process. Step one was general intake – mostly contact and insurance information. We have now been elevated to step three which is meeting with their psychiatrist. (Argh, we have one of those whom we love…do we really need another one?)

1:30 p.m.
Pick Jessie up early for school for appointment with his shrink at 2:00 (see above)

3:00 p.m.
Off to Natick Mall (again) to find an appropriate outfit for our 7:15 p.m. gig (see below)

7:15 p.m.
Shabbat services at my childhood synagogue for my father’s yahrzeit.

Just reading about the day that lay ahead made me want to crawl back under the covers. Well, I wanted to climb under the covers after the 9:30 appointment, but I wanted to climb, nonetheless.

It is neither necessary nor does it make for particularly interesting reading to hear about anything prior to 3:00 p.m. (but, and I know you are wondering, my hair came out great) so I will fast forward to our mall visit. (Yes, I have spent an inordinate amount of time at the malls lately…outfitting a 10 year old girl who, up until a month ago was a 9 year old boy takes some serious shopping legs. Glad I have it in me.)

Jessie felt quite strongly that she wanted to wear a dress to services. I suggested some cute pink pants with a cute top (cute is a big word in my house suddenly) but she was having none of it. Fair enough. We found a key parking spot (for the uninformed, I am famous for my parking karma) and head directly to the junior department. As I pore through the sale racks looking for casual dresses, Jessie makes a beeline for the cocktail dress section. (Why there is an enormous cocktail dress section in the junior department is just one of the many things I need to learn). And, like a seasoned tween girl, she pulled a dozen in her size (which, yes, she already knows) and skillfully draped them over her arm and headed toward the dressing room. Stop right there. In a few more years, when we are in Bar/Bat Mitzvah season, we might consider one of those dresses, but, newsflash: “you are ten!” It became immediately clear that a hissy fit (hers, not mine) was on the horizon and I actually heard myself say to “you will try the ones that I pick or you will get nothing little miss.” Wow. That was weird.

Serving as a reminder that Jessie was, not so long ago, George, the first fitting rooms were rejected due to the posse of 13 year old girls who were having a bash of sorts and were dodging, half dressed between rooms. Again, fair enough. Once we found a more acceptable room, Jessie tried on all four dresses I had brought in. They all looked adorable. So, despite my pronouncement that we were buying ONE dress, we bought all four.

Then, being a girly myself, I deemed the cute brown boots she had on to be “not quite right” with the new dresses so offered to see if there was anything on deep sale in the shoe department that might work. I spied a pair that I would wear myself (note: I am secretly kinda looking forward to the day her foot and mine are the same size) and suggested she try them. Initially rejected on sight, I whispered to the salesman to bring us her size. Yeah, well of course they were perfect. And $35. I am quite sure they are made of paper, but who cares.

Then home we went and even though we had over an hour before we had to leave, Jessie ran to her room and got dressed. Here is the final result:

The service for my father’s yahrzeit always does me in, but this year was particularly brutal. When the Rabbi announced a two minute moment of silence, by brother leaned over to me and asked if this was going to do me in. I told him that it was only the second minute and forty five seconds that I thought might be my undoing. And right I was. I quietly wept through the remainder of the service and considered it a small victory that my mascara did not betray me and was not only mostly intact, but was also not running down my cheeks. That is never a good look. A larger victory was the woman who, following the service, put her hand on my shoulder and told me that she had been watching me throughout the service. Assuming it was due to my raw emotions I smiled demurely only to be set straight when she finished her sentence and told me that she was admiring my excellent hair cut and color. Welcome to my crazy world.

As we do each year, the family then headed for dinner and drinks (not in that order) at a nearby restaurant. This year we got smart and had the licensed children bring their own cars so that they could feed them and they could leave with the little kids. We did (feed them) and they did (leave) and we continued with libations and conversation. Not surprisingly, the conversation centered around Jessie and the conclusion was that we were all witnessing a much happier child than we had before. Biggest victory.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A decidedly less serene Jessie in our midst. (This could have something to do with the fact that when we returned home after midnight, she was wide awake and watching t.v.) For the first time since her social transition, Jessie became hysterical, complete with real tears, over her need to acquire a retired American Girl doll named Mia. Retired American Girl dolls are a brilliant marketing campaign — stop selling the dolls (which start at $100) and make them rare and, apparently, valuable (and I use that term loosely) by selling them on Ebay for north of $200. This went on for hours. Literally. The upset and tears were so intense and genuine that I knew something else was up. The thousands of hours of therapy (hers and mine) have taught me that this need for a doll wasn’t really about a doll. Jessie, too, finally, through tears announced, “I know this isn’t about the doll. I don’t know what it is about though.” I found this both a relief and a worry. What now?

Are you regretting your decision to become Jessie? (NO!) Are you being teased? (NO!) Is this happening too fast? (NO!) Do you miss George? Silence. Then a long, hard hug and a “thank you”. Then I started to cry. And, like we did the day she told me her “secret” we rocked together in tears silently assuring one another that everything was going to be okay. And silently acknowledging that George doesn’t live here anymore.

Jessie has bounced back. While she still wants us to consider getting the doll, she is back at peace. For now. Her mother, however, is done for. For today.


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