Tomorrow marks the start of the first full week of school for my kids. Last week’s Thursday opening was merely a courting of sorts. It was a time for them to meet their teachers, get reacquainted with the kids they had not seen over the (interminable) summer, revel in the excitement of an advanced grade and, theoretically, anyway, emotionally prepare for the rigors of school. Despite how irritating it was for this parent, I have to admit to understanding and even appreciating the thought process of the school committee to kick off the year with a weekend right around the bend.
As a rule, I tend to subscribe to the “easing into things” method. It certainly beats being hurled, thrust, tossed, flung, heaved, pitched or propelled; trust me, I know the difference. Even though George’s behavior and tendencies were long indicative of a pull toward more female expression, her transition to Jessie was hardly a long, protracted exercise. At the time, I would have given my left arm for a “Thursday” start, but in hindsight, there was something to be said for her taking the helm of the ship and pushing off the dock without dropping anchor.
Behind the scenes, the true evolution from George to Jessie occurred over the course of a few months. It was early September when she first told me her “secret” and not until mid December that she went wide with the information. However, once she “shared” with her teacher at school (at 11 a.m. on a Monday morning…yep, I remember it well) it was mere hours before the barn door flew open and the horses were galloping, albeit gingerly, through the halls of her school. To the uninformed observer, it must have caused whiplash: Monday she was George and by Wednesday (which happened to be pajama day) she was bedecked in head to toe girl’s pjs and robe, hot off the shelves of Target. By some miracle, none of the kids seemed to bat an eye nor did a single classmate tease him (no pronouns had changed yet) for his outfit. No easing into things for her. Once she had freed herself of the information that she’d been keeping inside for all those years, there was, in her ten-year old mind, no time for pussy footing around. I would have loved a “Thursday” start but, alas, as the passenger on this adventure, no one asked me.
Likewise, no one asked me what day I would like school to begin. Had they, I would have said Tuesday, the day after Labor Day which, in my memory, was always the first day of school. But, having been denied the option or the Tuesday start, and armed with the knowledge of how “Thursday” went (read: lead quickly into the weekend) I appreciate how nicely it fell into place. The kids were energized but not overwhelmed, excited but not freaked out, relieved but not “over it.” It was, actually, a perfect segue to a new year.
Now, with the benefit of nearly a year’s worth of hindsight, I truly appreciate Jessie’s thinking in jumping, feet first, into the unknown waters of living as a girl. She must have known what would work for her and, as such, went in, never looking back. She didn’t need a “weekend.” She was down with starting on a Monday. She had her energy, excitement and relief in check already and, it seems, did not feel the weight of being overwhelmed, freaked out or, certainly, “over it”. Impressive, that one is.
As we kick off fifth and twelfth grades, I hope that my kids will have wonderful, meaningful and happy years. I hope that we will quickly get into a rhythm that works for them (and, um, me) and that there are no other enormous changes in store. That said, we should all fasten our seatbelts and prepare for all that lays ahead. Oh, wait, have I learned nothing? I have absolutely no idea what lays ahead…