Today marks yet another transition for Jessie and, if we are going to be honest here, me. This morning I brought her to what will be her first true camp experience as a girl.* After many sleepless nights and countless conversations with other moms, I was finally able to take a leap of faith and register her for the creative arts program offered at the nearby community center. I did so with a healthy dose of anxiety and trepidation but if the drop-off is any indication of what is to come, we might be good. (Note to readers: that is me being an optimist. Take it in…it may not happen again for a while.)
I had determined that swimming (which she loves) would account for the trickiest part of her camp experience (solely because of the need to change into or out of a bathing suit) so I was forced to discount several excellent camps for the exact reason I would have chosen them when Jessie was George: the number of times they swam each day. Many offered swimming several times throughout the day which my “son” would love, but my “daughter” would find stressful – again, for no other reason than the need to change into or out of a suit. As a result of this conclusion, I was faced with the task of finding a camp that offered the creative challenges that she delights in which also only swims at the end of the day. File under “things you never thought you’d have to think about” – a file which, incidentally, has grown exponentially thicker over the past several months.
After batting it around and hoping the complexities of the situation would somehow (magically) work themselves out (they didn’t), I finally made the call to the director of this camp. The conversation went something like this:
Me: Hi, I have a few questions for you, but before I even ask, can you tell me if you have space available during weeks 7 and 8 of camp? (I wanted to ensure that there was space before launching into our story. Good thinking, right?)
Director: We do. Is your child a boy or a girl? (Not intended to be a trick question, I am sure.)
Me: (Ignoring her query) Are you able to tell me when the ten-year olds swim? (I am sure this struck her as an odd first question.)
Director: (Ignoring my having ignored her) They swim once during the very last period of the day.
Me: Excellent. Do you have a few minutes to talk? (Now that I had gotten the “right” answers to my inquiries it was time to bring out the big guns and tell her a little bit more.)
I then proceeded to tell her all about Jessie. And she was wonderful. (Aside: Prior to calling her I did ask several people who know her how they thought she would react. To a person they told me she would be great. They were correct.) She told me that she had not had a transgender child in her program before but was perfectly comfortable working with me to ensure that my child (be it a boy, a girl or a martian) could have a fun couple of weeks doing the stuff that she loves. She further commented that she has lots of “quirky, left of center” kids at camp which, not surprisingly, made me love her. This might just work.
We arrived at camp this morning just like every other kid and parent. I found Jessie’s counselor, a young man who had an easy smile and enthusiastically shared with her the activity choices offered for the week. They included: costuming, mosaics, pottery and costuming again. Jessie was thrilled. She shuffled me out of the camp area (always a good sign) and I headed down to the gym to work out.
En route to my date with an elliptical machine, I bumped into the director with whom, as you know I had spoken, but never met. I introduced myself and we chatted for a few minutes. I asked her if the counselors knew of Jessie’s situation and she told me that they had been told at the beginning of the summer that there would be a transgender child in the program but it had not been discussed further. Translation: no big deal, no special treatment. Perfect. I laughed at the thought of the more astute of the staff eyeing each and every kid wondering if this was the one, but I also felt very grateful for the slice of normalcy. Jessie is considered just another kid at camp which, particularly after this past year, feels great.
With drop-off and introductions having gone smoothly, I exhaled ever so slightly. Ninety minutes later, as I was leaving after my workout, I happened to catch the eye of Steven, Jessie’s adorable counselor, who pointed to Jessie in a crowd, smiled and gave me the thumbs up. Here’s hoping this transition continues to proceed as easily as it started. We could all use a little bit of smooth sailing right about now.
* Her cooking class of last week – which provided my family with the five finest nights of eating ever – was fantastic, but not traditional camp in terms of activities or transitions. Oh, that word…
p.s. Thank you to amj5376, septyacht, TheJulian, okJ4, Maurazoe, Anotherkate and a few zyngawf #s not only for starting Word with Friends games with me, but for, to a person, kicking my ass. Yeah, thanks for that.