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.