I am a tremendous and loyal fan of Jessie’s school. To a person, they have handled her (and me, frankly) with a perfect balance of support and love (some tough, but mostly straight up). They have made what could have been a disastrous transition as seamless as I could ever have hoped for. The administrators, teachers and professionals clearly have our backs and for that, I will forever be appreciative. This week, however, school is killin’ me.
For starters, after two “hurricane days” last week, one professional day (which also happened to be election day) (and also happened to focus on just how seriously our town takes anti-bullying!) and one (unbeknownst to me – my bad) early release this week, I am desperately seeking more than a few hours during the day to accomplish something. I found out about the early release the hard way when I received a call ten minutes after the bell, smack dab in the middle of a torrential rainstorm (thereby making the, “you can walk home” response just plain mean) while I was at the market. (Points for me: not only was I getting ingredients for a hearty, delicious and nutritious dinner, I even texted Harrison to see if he would prefer lasagna or chili. He chose chili. Please don’t be the one to tell Jessie that while I was forgetting to pick her up, I was simultaneously not seeking her input on dinner choices. Doesn’t she have enough to talk about in therapy?) So, yes, I think we can all agree that all those “no school” hours are tiresome when they come one on top of another.
Second, and more troubling, is Jessie’s role as Student of the Week. Yeah, I didn’t think that they still had that in fifth grade, either, but alas they do. She arrived home with a poster board sized sheet of paper designed to share more about herself with her classmates. (I know, what’s left to share?…). It is all fairly benign with one notable exception: the 4” x 6” blanks calling for photographs. Aw, crap.
One of the many issues that families of transgender kids (or adults, for that matter) deal with is the past. Many of them want to pretend the past never happened as it was often a painful, unhappy time for them. Having transitioned, they have found a freedom and comfort in their own skin which eluded them before…so why would they want to be reminded? Well, I totally get that. I also totally get that of the three photographs being requested, one is entitled: Travel Guide. Because the audience is made up of ten-year olds, the word “travel” can be construed in less rigid terms than we adults might deem; one would think that a “trip” apple picking could be considered appropriate. However…Jessie’s school is made up of children from all over the world. As such, it is not unusual for the trips they discuss to include, (with great regularity, actually) places like Israel, Korea, Pakistan or Argentina. I feel for Jessie, therefore, in her desire to showcase something a little more exciting than splashing in the neighborhood pool last summer. Well, guess what? With all that has been going on around here, we haven’t gone anywhere that could pass as travel. She (desperately?) suggested using a snapshot from a trip to Disney World (when she was six!) but halted when she realized (remembered?) that in all of those shots, she is George. Let that wash over you for a moment.
Okay, so now you see my point and the quandary we face; either leave the space glaringly blank, or fill it with an outdated (oh, so outdated) shot of Jessie younger, smaller and, yep, a boy. File under: things you never think you will have to think about, but wind up thinking about all the time. Now I know full well that it is a fair and (one could argue) fun activity for the average kid. But, oh, wait…my kid doesn’t fall into that category, so what is meant to be a rah-rah, self-esteem building activity (who doesn’t want to be the Student of the Week? Or Parent of the Week? Or Spouse of the Week? Hell, I would take Best Hair of the Week!) is now stressing us out. Hate that.
I still love our school and perhaps, had we had a full week of full days of classes I would be less traumatized by this little blip, but, alas, we have not had a full week of full days of classes so I am seeing this blip as more monumental than I (intellectually, anyway) know it is. We will figure something out. Just not sure what.
p.s. Since this is my blog and you have chosen to read it, I will assume you will allow me a little indulgence in showing off a drawing that Jessie did the other day. (Many of you have seen it already on Facebook. Sorry ’bout that!) She is as proud of it as she should be and has decided to include it on her “Student of the Week” poster in the one untitled photograph box. She may look vaguely familiar (full disclosure: Jess had to tell me who it was), particularly if you are a fan of “Twilight”. Dear readers, this is Jessie’s interpretation of Kristen Stewart, aka Bella, with whom she is mildly obsessed. If only she had drawn her travelling somewhere!