All Dressed Up

Kids are amazing creatures.  They lack the inhibition which can prove so burdensome for adults.  They live in the here and now and follow their guts with a vigor that seems to narrow with age.  Their innate acceptance of people and things that are different from themselves is a joy to watch.  No matter what their particular eccentricity may be, they embrace and go for it, with nary a care for what other people might think or say.  It seems that they are better at honoring what they know to be their reality, no matter how others might perceive them which is a good thing, right?

I know a girl who is now twelve.  For what had to have been at least a year, she wore tights on her head (to simulate long hair, I suspect?) every single day.  She was never apart from, and would only relinquish them for the duration of a wash/dry cycle which, if memory serves me correctly, was only sanctioned when she was asleep for the night.  She was in possession of a couple of pairs which were exclusively reserved for her head and which she rotated as she saw fit.  No matter the weather, the time of year or the occasion, she always had them on.  To her parents’ and teachers’ credit, they allowed (embraced, even) her fashion statement and let it run its course.  When the day finally came that she shed the tights, she actually looked strange to me.  I missed those tights which had become so integral to her very being (so much so that they ceased being noticed long before she shed them).  Every once in a while I will remind her of them. She gives only a sweet smile in return.

Another girl I know had a special affinity for a Spiderman costume.  She was seldom seen without it.  She was indiscriminate as to where she wore it, and behaved in precisely the same manner she would have had she been costume-less.  Like the girl with the tights, it became so much a part of her that the first time I saw her without it, I had to do a double take.  Her mother recently told me that when she was reminded of her proclivity for all things Spiderman she not only did not recall it, but wondered aloud why she would do something like that.  Her parents, too, allowed her to make that decision and she, like the tight-clad girl, came out on the other side unscathed.

Granted, a boy choosing to live as a girl is hardly the same thing…or is it?  These girls, with no compunction at all, lived their lives in a manner that felt comfortable and “right” to them.  The span of time was significant and each costume gave the girls a certain comfort that they required.  Both thrived and are normal, well-adjusted kids – donning neither tights on their heads nor Spiderman costumes on their backs.  They were as lucky as everyone keeps telling me that Jessie is: they had parents who respected their children enough to know that sometimes kids know what they need.  I’m not sure that is any different from what we are doing with our child.

People have gone after me for allowing a ten-year old to drive this train.  They have accused me of pushing my own agenda (whatever that means) and of having wanted a girl (something I certainly could have done more easily than this!), but fail to consider that I am only supporting a child who, like the girl with the tights, or the girl with the costume, is more comfortable in something that is less socially acceptable and understood, but no less powerful.  I knew both of these little girls from the time they were born, and have a new appreciation for the intensity of their need for their respective costumes.  They got funny looks.  Their parents got funny looks.  But, at the end of the day, they weren’t hurting anybody.  In fact, they were doing what most adults are too afraid to do: be themselves.

Jessie’s decision is far more controversial, far-reaching and life altering than the girls and their tights/Spiderman-dom.  Having heard from many transgender folks over the past several months, I have an even greater respect for her having the gumption to do what she needed to do.  She may well do as my tights-bearing and Spiderman donning friends did before her and take off her guise someday but if or when she does, it will be for the most authentic of reasons.  Given the level of comfort she has demonstrated thus far, I suspect hers will be a vigor that grows, rather than diminishes, with age.

Advertisements

The Defense Rests

Fact: I have been known to have a defensive side.  I was the kid who always said, “It wasn’t my fault” and I have a propensity to stick to my guns; sometimes well after I know in my heart that I screwed up.  There, I said it.

A few days ago, an article I wrote appeared in the parenting section of The Huffington Post in which I attempted to summarize the turn of events which brought me to where I am today: attempting to do right by my child who has identified as transgender.  Given the controversial nature of the subject matter, it is not surprising that there have been hundreds of comments (largely positive, I might add) ranging from accolades for the support my husband and I have tried to demonstrate to legitimate (and fair) concern over where my child will land to decisions among strangers that I am a mother who wanted a little girl.  One would think that the (marginal) vitriol would have me responding (read: defending myself) ferociously from my keyboard but, and this surprises me, I feel no need to.

My lack of need is due, in part, to the incredible online community (who knew?) that has come to my rescue.  Given the fact that many of the responders are themselves transgender, the validity of their statements far outweighs anything I could ever say.  Their states of transition vary from “long ago” to “in the midst”.  They each have a different story and have travelled a different road, but to a person they have confirmed that the feelings that my child has shared with me are precisely those that they experienced themselves.   Their unanimous agreement and comprehension of Jessie’s feelings are far more powerful than anything I could ever even attempt to convey.

That said, when I read the first comment (I believe there were three) which did not suggest, rather declared that this was a mommy-driven issue (one person accused me of acquiescing to a demanding child) it did feel like a quick blow to the esophagus and, truthfully, my initial reaction was to blast out a response which may not have been kindly worded.  That feeling lasted for about a nanosecond (defensiveness is so ingrained that I sometimes have gut reactions) before I smiled to myself armed with the knowledge that it was neither my encouragement (nor, for that matter, discouragement) that brought Jessie to her announcement.  In fact, the suggestion is so insane that I haven’t wasted time obsessing over it (which is something I have been known to do every so often: obsess).  I am so comfortable with the way in which this all happened that it actually surprises even me.

I will say, for the gazillionth time, that I take nothing for granted.  This may be Jessie’s permanent path.  She may change her mind next week, next month or years down the road.  She knows that whatever she decides, we’ve got her back.  At the risk of sounding, um, defensive, let me note that she does not have carte blanche to do whatever she pleases, but it is her life to live and I have enough respect for her, even at age 10, to honor what she feels she needs for now.    Do I think it is going to be easy?  Hell no, but for our family, the potential benefits trump the risks.

This is a lifelong adventure (yep, still hate the word journey) which we are taking not just a day at a time, but sometimes an hour at a time.  I do not profess to be an expert, know where we will land or how the story will play out.  I do, however, know that we are doing the right thing for our kid.  And to those who declared that I wanted a girl, all I can say is…seriously?

Conflicted Conflict

I am feeling conflicted.  On one hand, I am touched, honored and moved by the outpouring of support that has resulted from my blog.  On the other hand, I do grapple over whether I am somehow exploiting (damn, I hate that word) the situation of my ten year old child.  I know in my heart that the benefits (thus far, anyway) have far outweighed the shockingly small number of negative response I have received, yet I cannot help but wonder.

When I consider the many people from far and wide who have expressed support of not only me and my family while  describing themselves as having been Jessie thirty, forty, even fifty years ago I am humbled by their stories of shame, secrecy and marginalization.   While most of them eventually found the courage and voice to be true to themselves, only some have found the unbridled support that they craved.  Many have told me that my going wide with our story has helped them to find greater peace.  That right there, is, as far as I am concerned, a terrific benefit to both them and to my family.  No conflict there.

Jessie knows about the blog, but, to my mind, only as much as she (being a ten year old kid) needs to.  She has seen many entries.  Others, while not kept “secret” per say, have been written, posted and commented upon without her explicit knowledge.  There are anecdotes which I have censored and others which she has specifically requested I not write about – all of which I have, and will continue to, honor.  That said, I have not lost sight of the fact that she is the main character and, as such, perhaps deserves a greater editorial role.  But, then again, she is a ten year old kid.  Now you see my conflict?!

On the occasions when my blog has blown up (the first was when there was an article in The Phoenix: http://thephoenix.com/Boston/news/134795-telling-jessies-story/ , the second was immediately following my guest post on www.scarymommy.com and, I suspect the third will be now that it is on www.huffingtonpost.com ) my level of internal conflict has risen exponentially.  It would be less than honest (I am nothing if not honest) to say that the accolades (while they still make me bristle) manage to serve as a huge boon to my ever suffering self esteem and anxiety levels.  At the same time, I live with constant worry over what it means not only to Jessie, but the rest of my family as well.  Overtly, they are nothing but supportive, but this is complicated, loaded stuff which every one of us is facing down for the first time.  Each time things heat up I (half-) joke about putting more money in the “therapy fund” since I am acutely aware that their expressed nonchalance is not necessarily a true reflection of their psyche.   I know that I, for example, manage to project a far greater sense of confidence in living this reality than I necessarily feel at any given moment.  This is pure speculation, but I would be willing to bet that everyone in my inner circle feels the same way.  And there it is again: conflict.

Armed with the knowledge that prepubescent children who have identified as transgender have been known to change their minds, I have often commented (to anyone who would listen) that I don’t know if I am more fearful that she will or that she will not continue on this path.   Right now it seems highly unlikely to me that she will change course, but I am (just barely) wise enough to know that I, in fact, know nothing.  Add that uncertainty to the ever growing list of conflicts I have rattling around in my head and we’ve got, yep, more conflict.

I’m not gonna lie – it is very exciting to be published in places like Scary Mommy (a site that enjoys something insane like a gazillion unique users per month) and Huffington Post (ditto on the stats) – but I sometimes feel, well, conflicted, that my main line of conversation is about my kid, even though she is (supposedly, anyway) down with it.  In my heart I don’t feel that I am exploiting (crap, there’s that word again!) her but what kind of mother would I be if I didn’t feel guilty about something?

So, on we go with this real time adventure, my anxiety be damned.

Re-post from Scary Mommy

Is it cheating to “share” from another site (www.scarymommy.com) a post that  I wrote?  Many thanks to Jill Smokler (aka Scary Mommy herself) (I’ve met her…she isn’t all that scary, actually) and my agent, Lisa Leshne (also not scary) for letting me guest blog!  

Here’s the link: http://www.scarymommy.com/raising-a-transgendered-child/

Beach Bound Babe (in, um, April)

The best laid plans…are always a waste of time.  Whether it is one’s thinking about the paths their children may take (ha!) or attempting to control the situation under which your transgender child delves into the world of bathing suits, we can plan all we want, but ultimately it ain’t up to us.

As you know, for the past two weeks or so, I have been hoarding several bathing suits which I have purchased for Jessie.  Knowing that I had them at the ready provided a certain degree of comfort (it is only April) and pride (again, it is only April) but Mother Nature (the bitch), much like her colleague, G-d (see transgender issue above), had a plan of her own and hit us with a near ninety degree day today.  Once the thermometer goes above 72, my kids think it is summer and one of them, I will let you guess which, equates summer with getting wet in the backyard, with or without our blessing.

This brings us to yesterday when I called the house from somewhere out in the real world (a place I seem to visit with less and less regularity these days) and Rich reported that Jessie and our neighbor Talia were in the backyard running through the sprinkler.  “Um, what is she wearing?”  I asked, unsure if I really wanted to know the answer.   “I don’t know – something with peace signs, I think” was his response which was both comforting and infuriating. (Comforting in his ability to be blasé in a situation that has nearly brought me to my knees and infuriating in that he wasn’t also brought to his knees!  Harsh perhaps, but true.)  Well, it turns out she knew all about the bathing suits that had been hiding in what I thought was a quiet corner of my bedroom and had taken the  liberty of tearing through them and deciding what to wear.  (Upon my return home, I noted the tags strewn on the area of the floor between my not-so-secret hiding space and the door.  This served as further proof of her having attacked the bag without any adult supervision.  Anyone who knows Rich will attest to the fact that littering would not be tolerated, even if it was what stood between a hot sweaty Jessie and refreshing water.)

It took me a moment to recall the one-piece, peace sign covered suit  I had purchased in December for her trip to Florida.  No sooner had I gotten it straight in my head than I fretted at the thought of her wearing it without a cover-up of sorts.  I need not have worried since she had taken the shorts that I had so painstakingly matched with tankini tops and pulled them over the suit (she even chose the color that matched the best, atta girl!) and went about her business cavorting in the backyard with the sprinkler on high. (Further proof that Rich had not given an official blessing…)

When I returned home, Jessie was chilling out on the sofa and casually suggested that I return the tankini tops because the one-pieces, together with the shorts, were the perfect combination for her unique situation.  “It holds my penis down”, she said more matter-of-factly than you could imagine.  File under: yet another sentence that I never could have imagined just a few shorts months ago which now sounds ridiculously normal to me.

This morning I went back to Target to return the tankini tops and to do a sweep of any one piece bathing suits that were available in her size.  I found three, one of which is really cute, the other two will suffice.  Upon my return home (along with six other bags with a red bull’s -eye  emblazoned upon them – surely you did not expect me to show restraint twice in a row?!) she immediately began a fashion show with me and Grace as her audience.  Ladies and gentlemen: we have found success!

Note: this is one of the “sufficient” suits, but clearly Jessie feels differently which may explain her otherwise inexplicable Jane Mansfield pose.  I only wish she were more comfortable in her skin. (Also, I do not know why she looks pink, but that I will blame on the fact that my phone doubles as my camera…)

Note 2:  She is wearing this in anticipation of her trip to the beach later this afternoon with Grace and her mother Jane.  Hopefully that trip will go as planned.

Bathing Beauty

Ask any woman how she feels about bathing suit shopping and you are sure to be met with sighs, eye rolls and generalized angst.   I personally can think of nothing about it that is even remotely pleasurable not just at this age, but even in my younger, more smokin’ hot years.   It is, however, a necessary evil – particularly if you live in a part of the world that has summer which, as it happens, I do.   All the tricks and games I have engaged in over the years in hopes of making it something other than a depressing use of an afternoon, however, failed to aid me as I found myself shopping for a bathing suit for Jessie.  Oh dear G-d.

I did not intend to embark on this expedition today, rather I found myself in Target (which I have yet to manage to get out of without spending at least $100) and, while searching for underwear for Jessie (she favors the boy-shorts) (oh, the irony) I spied, out of the corner of my eye, a bevy of bathing suits.  I know enough to realize that this abundant display will be quickly depleted and there will not be a bathing suit to be purchased in a fifty mile radius once June hits, so I had to pounce while the getting was good.  Perhaps more enticing was the signage that rejoiced in the freedom to mix and match tops and bottoms which, as anyone who has shopped for a bathing suit can attest, is a huge bonus…even more so when one needs to accommodate a penis in the “made for girls” bathing suit.  File under: yet another collection of words that I never thought I would even ponder, let alone utter aloud.

As I began to peruse the options, I honed in on the boy-short bottoms (again, oh, the irony) which, upon closer inspection, were immediately disqualified based upon the fact that they were tight, fitted bottoms which would be difficult for anyone to pull off (um, camel toe?) let alone someone trying desperately to camouflage a penis.  I then explored the skirted bottoms which have potential, but these particular ones were so damn flouncy and delicate that it was evident that their powers of concealment were dubious at best.  Crap – I think I might be starting to sweat.

Back in December, about a minute and a half after Jessie was officially “born”, she and Rich were going to Florida to visit Grandma.  The day before (no exaggeration) their departure, I hastily bought a few tankinis (which are my preferred style of suit) with over-skirts for what would be my daughter’s first foray into a pool as, well, my daughter.  It was somehow different for me then: said suit was going to be worn in the company of strangers and, frankly, I was not going to be there to witness it.  (Admission: I was grateful for that.)(Comment: Rich was a rock star about it.  Was glad it was him and not me.  True.)  Now things are different.  We are closing in on summer which translates to hours upon hours at the community pool to which we have belonged since Harrison was a baby.  (Read: we know everyone there.) Somehow George (n.c.i.) cruising the pool in a mermaid tail (true story) was easier for me to get my head around than this is.

Armed with the knowledge that this bathing suit exercise was not going to be easy, I assigned just one simple standard to which I needed to adhere:  appropriate coverage.  This includes chest, butt, belly and, yep, penis. I must admit to being a bit taken aback by the suits being marketed to the tween set as they look nearly identical to the suits that I wear.  Remember, I have been buying my children swim trunks for the past seventeen years and only needed to ensure that they not be see-through when wet.  Coverage was a non-issue.  Even the board-shorts for girls (the same as boys’, just shorter) wouldn’t quite cut it for one simple reason: no mesh inside.  (But, actually, that isn’t good for anyone…right?…)

It quickly became evident that in order to satisfy my one measly criterion I was going to have to get creative.  Wait, what is that??  I noticed some cute shorts, technically (and marketed as) workout wear (for the ten-year old yoga enthusiast?!) with (woo-hoo!) mesh liners and (score!) matching tops.  This might just work.  I crawled around looking for the correct size, taking the extra time to make sure that the size on the plastic hanger matched up with the item – sometimes those Target stockers don’t take the care that they should with such details – and voila, I created an entirely feasible bathing option.

Not satisfied with just one ensemble, I returned to the “mix and match” section and choose a few tankini tops (methinks Jessie might not have the belly for a bikini.  Just keepin’ it real, boys and girls) that will also work with the short bottoms.  I nearly hurt myself with the accolades I was internalizing in praise of my creativity!

I brought my purchases to the register with only two additional, unnecessary items (Pretzel M&Ms for Rich and snack sized Mounds Bars for Harrison) and was on my way.  (Note: limiting myself to only two unnecessary items in the shopping playground they call Target was nearly as remarkable as my bathing suit assemblage!)

Now all I need to do is have Jessie try them on which, we all know, is all that stands between me and another small victory.  I think I might just revel in the assumed success for now…I am not sure I am quite ready for the fashion show yet…it is only April, after all.

Update: This happened over a week ago.  I have still not shown them to Jessie.  I have not even told her about them, let alone asked her to try them on for fit.  Until I took them out for the picture, they have been sitting, lonely and untouched, in their bags in a far corner of my bedroom.  No, they have not taken up residence in the spot where the clothes lived for four months; rather I chose a different corner.

Photo credits to Harrison who, while taking the picture, told me that he prefers the pink one…I think he meant for Jessie, but I make no assumptions about anything any more…

Got any Grapes?

Click on and listen:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Ux7uNxTfTA&feature=related

The above link has nothing to do with anything.  It doesn’t speak to Jessie’s having identified as transgender, nor does it reflect how her transition has played out both for herself and for our family.  It does, however, make me smile every time I listen to it.  And I listen to it often.

Sometimes it is an escape such as this that it precisely what I need.  There are times that I sit down to write a blog post and find myself bristling at the mere thought of revisiting the events of the day.  Other times, I cannot bear to even think about all that our family has already been through, not to mention all that lies ahead.  I don’t want to type the word penis.  I feel profoundly uninterested in displaying (proving?) my strength to myself or, perhaps more dramatically, my readers.  Yep, sometimes I want to just forget about the whole thing and get lost in the silliness of The Duck Song.

I think this is a good thing.  It helps to keep me from losing my sense of humor and revives my ability to revel in the inane melody which I dare you to be able to forget.  The fact that Jessie and I regularly listen to it together is just icing on the cake.  It is an assured couple of minutes when I am not worried about her, she is not worried about her and all is good with the world.   Who knew that a little duck could make me so happy?

Got any grapes?

p.s. Special thanks to Bianca who was the first to share The Duck Song phenomenon with me…xoxo

Clothing in on Things

(Note: I tried like hell to make these pictures larger.  I even asked Harrison to help me.  He was snarky about it and blamed it on the fact that the pictures were taken on my phone, but I have taken other pictures on my phone which have enlarged easily.  I am too tired and emotional to mess with it any longer…so grab your readers and have at it.  xo)

For the past four months, this is what has greeted me when I entered my bedroom:

If you are wondering what exactly you are looking at, welcome to the pile of threads which used to clothe my youngest child, (when she was a son) George (when she was George.) While I long ago stopped consciously thinking about, I couldn’t help but take note, ever so briefly, of it each and every time I walked in the room.  Or got something from my dresser.  Or my closet.  I was paralyzed by the thought of dealing with it.  The “what if” phase which implored me to keep it there (you know….just in case), while never out of the question, seems far-reaching for now.  Any visits back by Jessie have, to the best of my knowledge, not happened.  The great plans to make a quilt never materialized and, I suspect, never would although the idea was a beautiful one.  It was time for the heap to be dismantled.

With no drama or fanfare, I went upstairs armed with clean garbage bags.  My initial plan was to put everything into the bags and bring them to the basement for safe keeping and any “just in case” moments.  I know from experience, however, that most of that which goes into my basement (or my freezer, for that matter) tend to stay there until they are thrown away at a later date so I abandoned that idea halfway up the stairs.  Still unclear as to what I would do with them once I had weeded through, I proceeded to go through, item by item, refolding each piece and taking just a split second to reminisce about when it had been worn.  Some were meaningless to me having been hand-me-downs themselves, thereby sparking no memories at all.  Others, however, made me pause and briefly allow myself a moment of reflection and, maybe, just a hint of melancholy.

One in particular was a little red t-shirt that started off as Harrison’s and became George’s (n.c.i.) when each of them were around eight.  It had just four little words – “I didn’t do it” – but pretty much said it all.  They both not only wore it, but wore it proudly for years.  It long ago ceased fitting anyone physically, yet emotionally it still, sadly, rang true.

As I continued going through, I again paused, this time with each dress shirt.  Though worn infrequently – mostly for school pictures, Temple visits and family gatherings – each one, by dint of the special occasions to which they were worn, are memorialized in photographs.  In fact, I sometimes have trouble discerning which kid is in the school picture each year because George (n.c.i.) often (and by often I mean always) wore the same shirt that Harrison had several years before.  Those Gap shirts served the Ross boys well.

I made neat piles separated by t-shirts, sweaters, dress shirts, shorts, pajamas and jeans.  I then, with a little bit of a lump in my throat, summoned Jessie into the room and asked her if there was anything she wanted to save.  (I told her that we could save it all if she wanted.  She declined.)  After thinking about it for roughly a nanosecond, she opted only to keep the tie-dyed shirts.  I suspect that was because she had made them.  Everything else was, basically, dead to her.

So now what?  I simply could not bring myself to put everything into the garbage bags that I had brought for their storage.  Maybe it was because I equate clothing in garbage bags to the old, outgrown stuff that we regularly donate to Goodwill.  Most of this is not yet outgrown.  Some of it, and this is a secret – don’t tell anyone – still had the price tags on. No, I couldn’t go the garbage bag route.  Instead, I went to the basement and unearthed two old laundry baskets (note to self: why were they down there?) and neatly put all the piles into the baskets.   And then I called my sister-in-law. (Stacy has two children, a girl who is a few months younger than Jessie and a seven-year old boy.  In the past, I have passed along the most acceptable of the outgrown clothing and have seen them both don some of the cast-offs.  Hannah, my niece who is deep into her tomboy phase,  favors the old sweatshirts and t-shirts and anytime I spy her wearing something familiar, it warms my heart..  Robert, while still smaller than either of my kids, will look dashing in everything, but I am especially looking forward to the potential of him choosing one of the “school picture shirts” for his school pictures! )  I told Stacy that I had finally attacked the pile and was giving her the right of first refusal.  (I was more than happy to keep everything in the family, but didn’t want to saddle her by moving the pile of clothes in my room into hers unless she wanted them.)  Thank G-d she did, because I had reached the point that if I didn’t get them not only out of my room, but out of my house, I might just possibly lose my mind.

Rich and I loaded up the back of the car and I embarked on the twenty-minute ride to do the drop off.  Highly aware of what I was doing, I took the long way to the house yet still I arrived before she did and secretly appreciated the opportunity to just leave the packages by the door and not have to see or think or talk about them anymore.  It was strange to walk back in to my room when I got home and be greeted by this:

I feel simultaneously relieved and exhausted.  The four months since George became Jessie have been heavy on my shoulders and my heart.  Now, at least when I walk into my room, I am not automatically reminded of all that is going on around me…I need only go across the hall, to the pink, purple and polka-dotted expanse otherwise known as Jessie’s room.

P.S. This is the one shirt (made in Kindergarten) that I will never ever part with.  Take note of not only the name, but the self portrait…of a girl.

P.P.S.  You might be wondering what is on the wall above where the pile of clothing used to reside.  It is a design, made of Wickie Sticks that Harrison and another niece, Rachel put up the day I came home from the hospital after having  my mastectomy.  It used to say “We ❤ JR” but over the years some of the wickies have lost their stickies.  This, along with the kindergarten t-shirt, will stay put forever.

Boot Camp —> Girl Coach

The other night when I went to pick Jessie up from gymnastics, I learned that she had done something to another girl in the class which horrified the other child’s father.  As best I can tell, my darling Jessie called his (less) darling daughter a “jerk”.  It seems that the other child (who shall remain nameless – mostly because I don’t know her name) assumed a position on the mat ahead of Jessie which Jessie considered to be unearned.   On the heels of an earlier incident of a similar nature, my little one got pissed and hurled the aforementioned epithet in her face with, as an added bonus, some spit.  (It has been confirmed that it was not a loogie type spit, rather a spraying of words which happens to the best of us when we are a little too excited and have a little too much saliva in our mouths).  I heard nothing of this until unnamed girl’s father gave a finger wagging and admonishing to my kid and then promptly left the building.  I will admit that my initial reaction was to run after and level this guy (in keeping with my long-held my mantra: “mess with me, don’t mess with my kid”) but he made sure to avoid handling this the way normal parents would.  Whatever.

I also admit to being a bit dumbfounded.  Big deal – she called her a jerk.  Was there blood?  Were there broken bones?  No – not even close.  It was, in my mind, anyway, a non-issue.  (Yes, it was inappropriate and an apology was certainly in order, but I would hardly call it an actionable offense.)  Upon reflection, I realized that I had my mom-of-a-boy brain on which, I have since learned, is made up of entirely different gray matter than the mom (or, in this case, dad)-of-a- girl brain.  This particular little princess, er, girl, was all bent out of shape over something that no boy would pay much attention to.  Oh, but wait, Jessie is now living as a girl and, as such, should probably be enrolled in a “girl boot camp” so that she can learn the ins, outs, yeas and nays of girl-dom.  (I wish I could take credit for this idea: props to Michelle, or more accurately, Sarah, for pointing it out!)

Since it was a joint realization and idea concocted by her and her mother, Jessie and I decided who better to be her “Girl Coach” than Sarah?  (Aside: Sarah privately told her mother that Jessie’s behavior was far from egregious…rather it was not the way in which a girl usually takes out another girl which, I concede, makes sense.)  Immediately before the start of the next gymnastics class, Jessie informed (yes, informed, did not suggest or even request, informed) Sarah that she would heretofore be known as Jessie’s “Girl Coach”.  Sarah responded by throwing her arms around Jessie’s neck in embrace and letting out a “woohoo” at the prospect.  I, from the sidelines, breathed a sigh of relief that I had found the perfect instructor.

In addition to feminizing her physically and socially, I am equally committed to helping Jessie become everything she wants to be – provided it doesn’t include being a mean girl.  That being said, her calling another little girl (who happens to be of the petite, teeny-weeny variety – which, um, Jessie is not) a “jerk” can serve as Lesson #1 in her boot camp adventure.  From my end, I told Jessie that girls don’t usually call one another jerks to which she suggested she call her a bitch instead.  Oh, my…we have our work cut out for us.

 Wishing everyone a very happy Passover and/or Easter.  See you on the other side when my Passover observers are clogged with Matzoh and my Easter observers are sugared up beyond recognition.  Whatever your holiday, have a wonderful weekend with family and friends…xo

Chronically Ambiguous

Recently I was asked (it is probably germane to the conversation to tell you that the questioner was a shrink) if I am able to “tolerate the ambiguity” inherent in trying to parent a gender variant child (which is what they are calling her now).  My initial, internal response was, ”hell, no” followed by an only slightly more appropriate “well, what if I am not?!”  While I am wise enough to know that such a retort is not an option, I sincerely wish it were.

As if the literal pain in my neck (not to mention the figurative one) weren’t enough of a nuisance and liability in my seemingly fruitless quest toward sanity, this conversation certainly was.  There were about one hundred thoughts, concepts and suggestions bandied about during the other 49 minutes of the meeting, yet this is the only moment that has become indelibly etched in my brain.  Is there an erase button nearby…because if there is, now would be a good time for someone to hand it over.

No, I cannot tolerate the ambiguity.  Further, I don’t particularly want to.  And, perhaps most troublesome:  I may just lose my mind in the sheer process of attempting to not only tolerate the ambiguity, but pretend that I am doing so successfully.

In a different conversation, with a different therapist earlier in the day (full disclosure: this was a conversation with a dear friend who, when she isn’t talking me off the ledge, makes a living as a social worker.  Our chat was off the clock…) I realized that so much of what is proving intolerable is the fact that I am surrounded by so many issues that are chronic and painful – some physically, some emotionally and some, you guessed it, both – that it seems completely improbable that between my back, my neck, my foot (I’ve spared you all the details of that one) and my gender variant child, there is any possibility of resolution of much of anything in the foreseeable future.   Add the reminder from the expert that there is a long road of ambiguity ahead and I find myself continuing my quest for that elusive erase button which, to the best of my knowledge, exists only in that happy place in the back of my head where nobody can reach it.

Chronic is perhaps even more difficult than ambiguous.  At least with ambiguous there is the suggestion (however inaccurate it may be) that sometime, somewhere, a conclusion will be met.  Chronic includes words like “habitual”, “constant” and “inveterate” in its very definition which, in turn, does not bode well for resolution, now does it?   I guess if I want to be little Miss Optimist, I will revel in the fact that the question posed to me was if I could tolerate the “ambiguity” as opposed to whether I am able to tolerate the “chronic” but, alas, I am not wearing my “I Am Optimistic” panties today.  In fact, I think they got lost in the wash along with a good portion of my sanity.

Here’s the bottom line as I see it: nobody can tell me what is going to happen an hour from now, let alone a week, a month, a year or even several years down the road.  It has very little to do with our particular brand of issue (gender variance) and everything to do with life as we all know it.  Sure, my “daughter with a penis” is an extreme situation, but is it really all that different from one’s effeminate son?  Their troubled marriage?  Their financial struggles?  Wouldn’t we all like to see all things ambiguous and chronic erased from our daily lives?  Well, maybe you wouldn’t, but at this point, I know that I would.