Not So Smooth Sailing

Remember the smooth sailing I was reveling in just yesterday?  Well, yeah, that was just a joke apparently; one which I did not happen to be in on, however, which makes it just that much less funny.

The morning at camp got off to a good start.  Jessie was energized.  The camp counselors and administrators were prepared and welcoming.  I was confident even enough to write a wildly optimistic (not to mention off the mark) blog post about it.  And then, unbeknownst to me, at about 9:15 a.m., it all started going south.  Fast.  Although I did not receive a midday call (talk about being lulled into a false sense of security) I did have one “live” and two phone conversations with the director by the time 6:30 p.m. rolled around.    By the end of the second call it was agreed upon that Jessie was done with camp.  Yep.  Done.

The specifics are not important (but I will say that she did nothing egregious, dangerous or horrendous) but the fact remains: it was a fail from which we are all reeling.  What could go so terribly wrong in those seven hours as to leave me in a heap and Jessie feeling like shit?  While there are a lot of potential schools of thought, after having (sort of) slept on it as well as putting in an emergency call to her therapist (who is away on vacation for the entire month…oy),  it seems to boil down to something equal parts crazy simple and ridiculously complicated.

Since having identified as transgender, Jessie, while socially presenting as a ten-year old girl, is still, in many ways emotionally, socially and physically a boy.  Stop and think about that for a moment.  Despite all our rah-rah talk of acceptance and allowing our children to be whomever they are, Jessie walked into that camp (or any other situation) with a deep desire to fit in and an even deeper knowledge that she is neither like the girls nor the boys.  As a result, she simply does not know how to traverse the relationships necessary for success.

But everything at school went so smoothly and without incident…what’s with the tidal wave and the resultant massive departure from smooth sailing?  Again, simple yet complicated: at school she was closely watched, protected and already (at least somewhat) understood among her teachers and peers.  Everyone knew George and, as a result, were well equipped to understand Jessie when she came on the scene.  Arrival at camp, with an entirely new crop of kids and administrators, reminded us all of just how much gender plays a role in everyday life.  She passes easily for a girl yet there is something that one cannot quite put their finger on that is “different” about her and regardless of how accepting an environment is, different is tough.

So here we were faced with a situation in which the kids (including counselors which are mostly kids themselves) didn’t quite know what to make of this larger than life child nor did she know how to infiltrate the social stratum which, I see clearly, equals disaster.  It also equals several more weeks of Camp Julie.  Oh dear G-d.

Today has worked out okay for both of us.  We are working with one another to try to assure that we both have at least one of our daily needs met and that neither one of us loses our minds in the process.  Hopefully we can move up to two or three needs per day as time goes on.  Until then, taking it one day at a time…

 

p.s. I really appreciate all the shows of support on FB earlier today.  Makes me feel a little less like a sinking ship.

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31 thoughts on “Not So Smooth Sailing

  1. Fortunately you have each other! The point is well made that she looks
    Like a girl but socially moves thru the complex world of social issues like a boy sometimes which can make things difficult! Hope you both find some peace this week!

  2. Oh dear…. try to only look one step ahead for a bit until the path before you becomes clearer. You’re doing really, really well here… just keep reminding yourself.

  3. I know you’re all still reeling from those recent events at camp please try to think about it as just a bump on Jessie’s learning curve; she’ll figure it out soon enough. I had plenty of those myself as I transitioned, heck I still do; it’s those darn conversations and confrontations that are so much different now than when I was socialized as a little boy. Sorry you both had a rough day, dust yourselves off, grab a couple of ice cream cones and try to take something good out of it.

    All the best,
    Paula
    PS. Check out camp Aranu’tiq, its a summer camp for transgender and gender-variant youth ages 8 through 15, it might just be what you need. http://www.camparanutiq.org/home.html

  4. As I said earlier, no one said life will be easy when your daughter has a penis, but count yourselves as fortunate that the rough experiences have thus far seemingly been outweighed by the good ones. It will continue to be a struggle, but some things are just out of your, or Jessie’s, control. All of the hurdles will make the journey difficult, but make the end result much sweeter having known what it took to get there. Obviously, transition is something not only Jessie is dealing with, but also many others around her as well as they try to figure out how best to deal with the situation. Hopefully her next camp experience goes a lot smoother.

  5. I still think you’re amazing, even with some situations resulting in your ship sinking. Just to be able to navigate through any of this with a sense of humor and the ability to put things in perspective is unbelievable. I can remember when my daughter (now 14) had to be coerced into going to preschool kicking and screaming. It was awful to try to go about my day waiting for the phone to ring (which it always did, and eventually she had to be pulled out). I certainly did not have the ability that you have to even remotely have a sense of humor about it. As hard as your journey is, I still believe that you are one of the best moms around. Jesse is so lucky.

  6. there are very few camp counselors who can deal with a kid like Jessie. As the mother of a kid like Danny, I am pretty sure that gender “issues” are the least of your problems. lf this were George, the same thing would be happening in some other place.
    how’s that for Reassuring?
    Keep taking chances and getting her out there. Experience and scar tissue are key
    xoxo

  7. Hi, Julie…

    I’m a retired public elementary school principal in Massachusetts.

    I wish all parents would show the unconditional love and support for their child/children as you have. I am so proud of you and Jesse, especially, as you travel these uncharted emotional waters together.

    God Bless Jesse, you, and your family.

    Love to you both…

    George

  8. Hi Julie. I’m a friend of Beth’s and been following your blog. You are an amazing parents and Jessie is lucky to have you and the community. Not everyone gets it and it’s their loss. She will settle into her body as a girl but may always have some wonderful “boy” things about her. Why not? My son has so many “feminine” ways of moving through the world and we love them but we got to grow up as parents with them. You have to do it so fast. Remember you are not in this alone.

    Kimbell

  9. The adventures of life are amazing and challenging!

    Pleeeease check out OUTdoors Gay Camp! It’s an incredible camp for all LGBTQZ youth. Many transgendered counselors and campers.

  10. Well, this time didn’t work out…..but the good news is that she has you as support and you’re going to get through this together. Unfortunately I think that our children’s whole lives are going to be one of those “fasten your seat belts-I think we’re in for a bumpy ride” kind of things. So I think we just need to prepare our children that things are not always going to work out the first time, but that’s okay, we’ll just find something that does. Hugs to you and Jessie!

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