Who Cares?

Want to know what is great about kids?  They aren’t adults.  It is true that they can most definitely be little shits, but all in all, they are usually kinder, less judgmental and way, way, way more accepting than the older (particularly post-pubescent) versions of themselves.

When George transitioned to Jess in the middle of the week in the middle of 4th grade, how many kids cared?  Hmmm, let me think.  Still thinking.  Oh, right…not a one.  In fact, during one of my many, many, many conversations with the school principal (who, by the way, could not possibly have handled it better) I vividly recall her telling me that it wasn’t the kids she was worried about it was, yep, their parents.   And, truth be told; only one parent expressed concern.  Of note is that that parent is the same parent who sent her kid to my child’s 6th birthday party and told her that she could “watch the other kids” swim and have a blast, but they had plans afterward so she didn’t want her hair messed up…so, um, there you have it.

Perhaps you have caught wind of the national conversation regarding transgenders’ use of bathrooms in public places. Or, if you have not, perhaps you have been in a coma or had exactly zero access to tv, radio, internet or another human being.  And, it is possible that you think that the ban is appropriate, although given the fact that you read this blog, I suspect otherwise.  Either way, I view this as a great time for us judgie, fearful, mis- and uninformed grown-ups to take a page from kiddos’ playbooks and ask ourselves: who cares?

In all my bathroom experiences (of which there have beenmany: I am, after all, a woman of a certain age) I have never:

  • Been in one that did not have stalls. In “female” restrooms, trough peeing is generally frowned upon and, from my admittedly unscientific research, even men’s rooms with urinals have stalls for the urgent poop or the pee-er with stage fright.
  • Seen one single solitary vagina other than my own, and even that I don’t really see. I mean, really.
  • Felt uncomfortable for any reason other than having the bad luck of being the next visitor after a poor soul had their bowels explode. And trust me; it was no better for her having to make eye contact with me on her way out.
  • Lingered one moment longer than was necessary to empty my bladder, wash my hands and fiddle with my hair. Okay, there’s been the occasional lipstick application and chat with other bathroom goers, but it is generally a wham bam thank you ma’am experience.

toiletpaper

I have, however:

  • Emptied my bladder. And, in situations under which I had no control (Chipotle, anyone?) had to go #2.
  • Waited on line, often with adults who have children doing the I’m-going-to-cross-my-legs-and-jump-up-and-down-and-hold-my-crotch-while-whining-so-I-don’t-pee-in-my-pants dance, during which I have always given up my spot on the queue because, well, voiding and evacuating are done in private. Duh.
  • Waited until midstream to check for toilet paper only to discover none. One would think that would only happen once, but, well, whatever.

As for the rampant issue with molestation in the bathroom and everyone’s fear of such?  Well, here are my thoughts on that:

  • Implement a hard and fast rule: no one ever goes in the bathroom alone, anywhere, anytime, anyplace, no exceptions, Problem solved.

Listen, I am not so naïve as to not understand the trepidation.  I am not insensitive to anyone’s fear of the unknown.  In fact, I personally have so many fears of so many unknowns that one could, and maybe has, called it a full blown neurosis, but, but, but please consider focusing on something more important that could ever possibly effect you or your children.  I, for one, would be much more concerned about the person next to me with a handgun in her purse, or the drug addicted fellow who is so desperate for his next high that he will attack you for your wallet or the registered sex offender who is hanging out at the town playground.  Could any of them be transgender?  Sure.  But, and of this I can assure you, they are not packing heat, looking for their next hit or eyeing your little cherub because they are transgender.  No way. No how.

Kids don’t care if you have a penis or a vagina.  I am pretty confident they wouldn’t care if you peed out your nose.  They do care, however, if you are an asshole and, might I point out, their asshole radar is spectacular.

So, next time you have to pee in public, go in, do your business and stop worrying about other people and their parts.  Or, hold your bladder and bowel until you explode all over Home Depot which, for me, anyway, would be way worse than sharing a bathroom with someone who is transgender.

 

Advertisements

You’ve Got To Have Friends

Old friends are great.  I love my old friends.  In fact, some of my best friends are old friends.  It’s great: we have a shared history replete with awesome, gruesome, hysterical, heartbreaking, unforgettable and ridiculous experiences.  I met some when we were kids walking to elementary school (uphill both ways), or at Mass Ski Club when our parents dropped us off at the Howard Johnson’s at 5 a.m. and collected us at 7 at night.  Or in high school while we were hanging out in the smoking lounge (not all of us smoking…but it was the 80s) or in college somewhere on Caroline Street in Saratoga, most likely with a few LI Iced Teas and chili dogs on board. Others I formed an immediate kinship with as a young parent trying to navigate, negotiate and tolerate toddlers who would go on to spend the next twelve years going through school, complete with the myriad issues that arose on the daily. Or my work friends who, back in the day, I spent more time with than anyone.  Many of those people are now CVS/Marshall’s pals; you know, the folks you bump into after only having seen them on Facebook for months, maybe years, but wind up having a perfectly wonderful chat together in the store aisle – often for nearly an hour.  Time has passed, but your friendship has, albeit in a different incarnation, survived the test of time.

 

New friends, however, are pretty spectacular in their own right.  When you are a full-fledged adult and make a new acquaintance you are in an enviable position: you can pick and choose with whom you would like to embark on the friendship road.  Your meetings are more likely to be in  places you have chosen as opposed to the spots which you frequent out of necessity…soccer games in the pouring rain, anybody? And. It.Is.Awesome.

index

Of note, and this is important: I cherish all of my old friends.  Without them, I would never have been able to grow from point A to point B.  I most assuredly would have crumbled under the pressure of attempting (sometimes in vain) to be a successful daughter, partner, mother, sister, friend and employee.  Had they not been old friends, just the time I would be forced to spend just to bring them up to speed and fill them in on all the players and backstories would  be too arduous for me.  My old friends have, and will continue to be, my most precious commodity.

 

I’m lucky in that lately I have made some truly wonderful friends.  Women I never would have met had my marital status, living and work situations remained intact and stable as they had been since the 90s.  I’ve met them at the gym, at synagogue, at the supermarket, through mutual friends and by Googling: “transgender” in my town.  They are married, divorced, parents, empty-nesters, widows, employed and unemployed.  Some have two living parents, others are not as fortunate.  There are locals, transplants and returning to their roots gals all mixed in.  So, too, are they tall, short, skinny (the bitch), dying their gray or letting it go. Women with kids in preschool, college and everything in between and beyond.  They are grandmothers (young, smoking hot grandmothers, but grandmothers nonetheless).  They have never married, are happily married, not so happily married, divorced.  One was even just starting to flex her, “I am woman hear me roar” strength in leaving her husband only to suddenly find herself a widow instead.  And they all rock.

 

Making new girlfriends at this age is to be celebrated.  The occasions under which you meet are different – they are more full of choice and less a matter of circumstance.  You each bring to the table your own history, expectations, learned-the-hard-way experiences and are better in tune to the “conditions” under which you are willing, at your advanced age, to engage in an open and honest relationship.  It’s kinda like dating without the fear, anticipation, horror and angst at potentially getting naked.

 

Admittedly, my repository for new blood (as it were) came easy.  I am in a new community, with a new partner, a new home and, hopefully sometime soon, a new job.  I arrived with my abundance of baggage (physical and emotional) and am, with open arms and an open heart, building a new circle of women.  These women have, in the few years that I have been migrating this way, made it clear that I’m going to be well taken care of.

 

I will never stop loving, appreciating and depending upon my old friends.  You know who you are. I am enormously grateful to my new bitches, too.  Julie, Becky, Nancy, Rachel, Jill and Sue, not to mention my beautiful, in every sense of the word, new mother- and sister-in law, Susy and Fannie, respectively.

 

We all need to enjoy and embrace the process of life.  One moment you can be sitting back thinking, “I got this” and the very next, all hell breaks loose.  It can and will happen on a dime.  There are friends for a reason, friends for a season and friends for a lifetime.  Enjoy every single one of them, every day, beautiful ladies.

I See…

Most of the things our kids do “behind our backs” are not good.  If they were good, I’d argue, they would be doing them in front of our backs and not, instead, in secret with the fear of being caught perched atop their heads.  Sometimes, however, the things that our kids do without our knowledge not only catch us off guard, but are utterly fantastic.

Last week I turned the very unspectacular age of 51.  I’m generally a terrible birthday girl and more often than not, wind up in tears for one reason or another; some are legit others I blame on hormones.  Anyway, this birthday started off with the youngest of my son-to-be stepsons having some, shall we say, fairly significant stomach issues.  Vomit, sofas and carpets were involved.  Swell.  Trying to be supportive while keeping my distance and willing away the fears of rampant contagions travelling through the house, I embraced the fact that, at least this year, my birthday tears would be warranted.

And then Harrison FaceTimed me.

I answered the call, and up popped his bearded face*, all smiles.  I felt better already.  He wished me a happy birthday, asked what I was doing (avoiding vomit) and then, with a hesitation in his voice that only a mother can sense, told me that he had something to tell me.  Again I say, swell.

“So”, he began.  “I’ve been working on something for about six months and I am finally ready to tell you about it”.  (He was talking too slowly.  I felt a wave of nausea pass over me, bracing myself) “There is something that I know you really really really want but will never ever ever do for yourself.” (Okay, I’m listening…) “While I was home last semester and you thought all I was doing was imprinting my ass into the sofa**, I was actually stalking your Facebook page, your blog, your LinkedIn so that I could get the word out to as many people that you know as possible.” (What word?  Aren’t I the one who is supposed to be stalking you? Still talking too slowly!)  He continued: “I set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to get you Lasik…and now we can do it!” (WHA???? OMG, NFW, WOOT WOOT!)

I was so touched.  I was so overwhelmed.  I was so proud that I’d raised him to be such a kind and generous soul.  And. I. Was. So. Psyched!

And then, because I am me, I pelted him with questions.  He laughed and directed me to the page so that I could see for myself.  His letter made me cry.  Like good cry.  Like not the lame ass birthday cry I always have, but a cry because his words (which, if we are being honest, he had not been using aloud for the past several months) were music to this mother’s ears.

My kids do not generally keep much from me.  We are pretty rock solid.  However, if that which they are sneaking around doing is something as fantastic as this, I’m down with it.

To those of you who so generously donated: thank you from the bottom of my heart and the pupil of my eyes.  I’m touched beyond measure.  I need to find a way to properly thank you, but consider this a start.

I really am blessed.  (And ridiculously excited!)  Here’s to being able to see my clock in the middle of the night…

p.s. If you have a Lasik horror story, I beg you to keep it to yourself.  I am anxious and neurotic enough.

 

*He’s had the beard for years, but I am still a little bit surprised every time I see him that he is, well, a man.  Here’s a picture of him with his first beard.

kingharrison

**That’s true.  But he did so while listening to lectures, studying and becoming an EMT, so it wasn’t for naught.  Oh, and here he is now:

hjrbeard

 

#Truth

I love my kids.  It has (often) been (anything but) a pleasure to be their mother.  They have (when not embarrassing me) made me proud.  They have (when not infuriating me) cracked me up.  They have (when not being impossible) touched my heart with their warmth.  They have regularly made parenting  (not at all) easy.  I have learned from them (how to not lose my shit) every day.  I’ve grown (fatter and more chronically tired) as a person.  And I truly (most of the time) feel blessed to have them in my life.

truth

With (more than a) little exception, I have (almost) always  acknowledged (‘fessed up) when my kids have been too energetic (obnoxious), outspoken (rude), or inquisitive (disrespectful) . I have (happily) allowed them to watch (a ridiculously inappropriate number of) hours of television for the (entirely not) educational  value.  (I convinced myself that) I did it to (keep from killing them) afford them hours of (mindless) entertainment (that didn’t require me to do anything).

When they were younger, school vacations were (as) relaxing (as Chinese water torture). Weekends were often (Satan’s idea of) fun for everyone.  I looked forward (like I would to, say a root canal) to the two weeks at the end of the summer between when camp (sadly) ended and school (be still my heart) began.  My kids were (not) easy.  And I (really don’t) look back at those days with feelings of (entire) joy.

As I (miraculously) grew into my life as a parent, I (finally) realized that (not) being honest about (how difficult) my kids and their (endless) needs was (not) the way to go.  I needed (a crap ton of) support and, if I allowed myself (to be woman enough) to acknowledge that …then I would be (off the charts) better off.  It took (way too much) time, but eventually  I realized (admitted to myself) that I was (ridiculously) overwhelmed and that my feelings (of anger, exhaustion and resentment) didn’t mean I was a (shamefully) bad mother.  They meant I was being (brutally) honest with myself.

So, (with the ferocity of a mama bear) I began to (aggressively and somewhat desperately) reach out to other moms who were (over the top) relieved to hear that they were not alone.  We shared with (admitted to) one another that being with the kids could be (not at all) enjoyable and that we (often) felt that we got (stiffed with) the (least) easy parts of these little creatures.  But we never (ever ever) stopped truly, deeply loving them.

I am (beyond) elated (and a little bit surprised) to report that my children are now (way more often than not) a pleasure to be with.  They have (with lots of personal work) turned into lovely young people.  We’ve all needed (lots and lots of) help, support and love to bring us here.  And there is no shame in that.  None at all.

#Truth

Let’s Hear It For The Girls

We had logged a few hours of intense outlet shopping and already consumed a reasonably healthy lunch when we popped into the nearby McDonald’s for further sustenance and caffeine. I was beginning to fade and, for no good reason (particularly after the shopping scores I had made) was feeling a little down. When we walked in there was a table of women, mostly blonde, all notably attractive, with their Diet Cokes, McWraps and cell phones in hand, oozing of a connection to one another which was, somehow, ridiculously powerful. I made note and kept walking. Barry, my gregarious, never-shy fiancé, however, commented aloud about what a great photo it would make. All seven women laughed as one…not at him, but with him.

I chimed in that I, too, had noticed the beauty of the moment and we began to banter back and forth for a few moments, my need for caffeine still firmly in place. We said a tentative goodbye and headed for the counter to order with a promise (threat?) to return. I requested an iced coffee and hot fudge sundae and Barry (strongly, unrelentingly, vigorously) encouraged me to go back and chat. I resisted. I sometimes do that. I wondered if the moment had passed, if they had actually just given us a courtesy laugh and were now chatting about the crazy couple that just intruded on their otherwise lovely lunch of Mc-things. My confidence faltered. Reluctantly I returned to the table and was greeted by lovely, warm, funny women. Women I could sense had a story….and everyone knows how much I love a story.

Ramona, with the bright smile and quick wit commented that Barry and I were such a cute couple and asked what our status was. I told her we are engaged and she, like I would have, grabbed (in the best way possible) my left hand to inspect the goods. She held my hand, in a way that did not make me feel the least bit uncomfortable and kvelled about the design of the ring. Noticing the two young women (later to be known as Paige and Brynn) as well as the early teen (Amelia), I implored them to “marry a man who cherishes you” and Ramona, with a subtle sadness said, “I did”. I knew she had a story.

They enthusiastically inquired as to the when and where of our wedding plans. We don’t have any yet, but told them of the kids’ suggestion that we do it at Water Country . “That would be awesome!” they gushed but went on to joyously encourage us to do it right then and there, on the beach at nearby Kennebunkport and they would be our witnesses, bridesmaids and flower girls. We would then, they implored, post a picture on Facebook to tell the world. And, I might note, they were only half joking.

The conversation became funnier and even more animated every moment. At this point, I was seated next to Paige, a beautiful young lady with gorgeous thick hair in a (fantastic) mess on top of her head. At the table were her mother, her grandmother, her sister, her cousin, her aunt and a dear friend who, while not a part of the blood line, was clearly one of the girls. Earlier in the day, I had (lovingly) (and repeatedly) called Barry an asshat, an expression I see all over Facebook but wasn’t entirely sure what it meant, but just saying asshat is funny, so I did. Paige, being of a certain demographic, seemed like someone who might actually know what it meant, so I asked her and she did not know, which, in a way, made me happy. We asked Siri (who did know) and she told me it is “a dumb person”. “Ohhhh” we said collectively. “Better than calling someone a ball sack”, said Ramona. A nanosecond pause and we all busted out laughing: from Grandma down to 12 year old Amelia. And it felt great.

A good half an hour passed as Barry and I melted into the family, side bar conversations between us. We learned about one another, if only a little. Ramona, who is someone I would most definitely want to call my friend, touched my heart with her quick wit, irreverence (she said ball sack in from of the kids…and her mother!) and honesty when she elaborated on having been cherished by her husband. The same husband (and father, and uncle, and son- and brother-in-law) who had, just in June, lost what I am sure was a hard fought and vicious fight with brain cancer. We instinctively and tightly hugged at her saying the words. She’s a strong, beautiful woman who is wise, lucky and blessed to be surrounded by the same.

It was fun. It felt natural. I wanted to know these women. These women I had not wanted to bother while they were “dining”. The ones that Barry forced me to go back to, coffee and sundae in hand, and integrate myself into their conclave. I used to be better at that. Before I felt broken and worried for my children. Before I felt challenged beyond what I thought I could handle. Before I began to lose confidence in my ability to connect. Barry made me do it (he makes me do a lot of things I never thought I would do…and I love him for it.)

I’ve always been all about the sisterhood. I love women who support, love, laugh and encourage one another. This table of women define how women should interact and simpy be with the women in their lives. I detest bitches that make everything a competition, who are not willing to protect, support and share and, perhaps most egregiously, who reject the strangers who approach them at McDonalds.

ramona
Brynn, Paige and Amelia: While you are most definitely blessed with strong, fabulous women in your lives, allow me to chime in: Marry a (Jewish)* man who cherishes you, who encourages you to be the best version of you and who jostles you out of your comfort zone enough that you plop yourself down at a table of strangers and walk away with a new set of friends.

*These lovelies are not Jewish, but Ramona and I agree: they make the best husbands.  I trace it back to a (healthy, not at all creepy) fear, er, adoration of their mothers.

M&Ms

I have a (large) jar of M&Ms hidden away. Not just plain ones, either. Rather, I have a perfect combination of plain, peanut and pretzel. No mint. No peanut butter. No minis. No mega. Despite full knowledge of said stash, my jar has either not been discovered by the others who reside in the house or, and perhaps more likely, it has been, but all are wise enough to abstain from touching.

m&ms

I am very disciplined when it comes to their consumption; never taking more than one palm full per visit, never more than one visit per day. When the jar is one quarter full I dutifully replenish. No sooner. No later.

I never make an impulse purchase of a single serving bag of M&Ms at the market/Target/Walmart/Staples checkout counter. When Halloween bags are dumped on the kitchen floor, I do not ever grab a bag, opting, instead, for the Sugar Babies, which are, I might add (with sadness), few and far between.

If someone I live with were to sneak a few, I would know from the distinct aroma they leave on the breath. No one has dared.

My jar of M&Ms, which I often go weeks (okay, days) without visiting, makes me feel safe. Like a good friend, they are there when I need them, bring me cheer (plain? peanut? pretzel?) and always buoy my mood. Yep, M&Ms have that power.

One of the joys of being an adult is having an M&M jar. It is up there with staying up late, not making the bed and declining an invitation simply because you just don’t want to attend, no excuses concocted in an effort to explain yourself. To me, it is akin to money in the bank, clean sheets on the bed and fresh milk in the fridge.

When we wake in the morning, we never know what lies ahead. The day could start strong and stay that way. It could, for that matter, morph into a shitstorm. Likewise, a rough morning is not always an indicator of twelve lousy hours. This morning I was laughing in my sleep so loudly, and, according to Barry, slightly hysterically, that I woke him. (Damn, I wish I could remember what was so funny!) I went on to have a great workout – complete with making a new friend – only to have things take a turn as the day progressed. I arrived home a bit worse for the wear and considered (but did not act) delving into my jar. I will admit, I went as far at to venture to the hiding spot to check my stash. I have not filled my palm, but the day is not over yet.

If you ask me, everyone should have his or her own M&M jar. What’s yours?

Love/Hate

Earlier this week, PBS’s Frontline aired  a program entitled, “Growing Up Trans”.  You can see it here:

http://video.pbs.org/video/2365520005/

A part of me loved it.  And, a part of me hated it.  Here’s why:

I loved the title.  The fact that in the title they used “trans” which is so casual and matter of fact reiterated a heightened national awareness and, arguably, acceptance.  To my mind, “trans” is way more cool and way less clinical than transgender.  As someone living in this world, the absence of the word gender can go a long way.

I loved the honesty of the parents.  This is not easy stuff and any parent who tells you that each day is anything other than overwhelming, scary and uncertain is a liar.  I don’t care how effeminate or butch your son or daughter may be, there is nothing, not one damn thing, that prepares a parent for this transition.  Your little boy loves dolls and dresses and mermaids?  Your daughter is only interested in trucks, contact sports and super heroes?  Big deal…who cares?  In fact, when my entirely cis-gender son was little he loved to go with me to the Chanel counter at Bloomingdale’s and paint each of his fingernails a different vibrant color.  Weekly.  Never ever once did I wonder if he would come to me one day and tell me he felt that as though he was a girl.  For that matter, I didn’t even really expect it from George who so resolutely favored dolls, wigs, dresses and mermaid costumes but also acted, in many ways, “all boy”.  Yet one day he told me just that.  And, like the parents profiled on the program, I was totally, completely and utterly knocked off my axis.  Apparently I put on a brave face and had everyone convinced that it was an easy adjustment but, newsflash, it wasn’t. Still isn’t, actually.  It is, however, a whole hell of a lot easier. I love those parents for admitting their fears, anxieties, and trepidations with no apology. Bravo.

I loved the kids, each one of them, with all their individual quirkiness, for having the courage of their convictions and for sharing with the world what this feels like.  I loved how each one of them owned their behavior: the good, the bad and the ugly.  No matter your age, environment or gender…that takes balls.

I loved the lack of discussion about bathrooms.  Seriously, loved that.

I hated a few things, too.  A friend messaged me about the program:

“…Wanted to punch a few of the Dads. I am sure their reactions are pretty typical but still…”

Now, what I hated about this is not what you might think.  My friend is right.  Some of the dads’ reactions were painful to watch.  The perfect parent in me wants to chide them for their selfish candor.  And, that said, I can fully understand wanting to punch them…I mean, really, who talks smack like that about their kids, in front of their kids and, oh, yeah, on national television?  The honest parents do.  I entirely understand how they felt/feel and applaud their putting it out there.  To be clear, these parents, despite verbalizing their misgivings and concerns, are not to be confused with the parents who kick their kids out of the house, disown, humiliate and, essentially torture their children for doing nothing other than being honest.  But I hate that the perception, from folks who have not walked in these shoes, that these parents were behaving badly.  They were being human.

I hated that it forced me to have many (many, many, many) conversations that, frankly, I didn’t really feel like having.  And I hate that I have to admit that.  The subject is rife with opinions, facts, speculations and, well, scary stuff.  Every well-intentioned and well-meaning exchange left me feeling equal parts soaring with confidence and paralyzed by insecurity.  Confession: It is way easier to coast than to make this part of the daily discussion.  While I know that I always have Jess’s back, there are differing opinions of what that means.  File under: scary crap parents have to deal with while pretty much punting.

I love that PBS produced this program.  I love that discussion and acknowledgment of the realities of the transgender community has become so, well, mainstream.  I love that I have so many people in my life who love me and feel comfortable enough with me to offer their always, always, always well-meaning, well-composed opinions.  And I hate that it has to be so complicated, so emotionally charged and so overwhelmingly overwhelming.

special shout out and lots of love to PS, BTS, and GS ❤

Decidedly Undecided

Transgender everything is everywhere and I am decidedly undecided about how I feel about it.

On the one hand, all the exposure, explanations and acceptance are spectacular. On the other hand, that’s a whole of exposure, explanations and (not so much) acceptance. Oh, the irony.

minion

With this latest round of chatter (thank you, Caitlyn Jenner) I have found myself again asking why anyone gives a shit. I know that sounds trite and, perhaps ridiculous, but seriously…how does one person’s gender (or any other, for that matter) expression in any way impact me, you or the mailman? I get that it is (un)comfortably outside of the norm. I get that it is not what most of us grew up with. I even get that what feels natural and real to the transgender person and their families, feels extraordinarily unnatural and unreal to folks who are on the outside looking in. I. Get. It.

What I don’t get is how polarizing the whole subject matter is. Oh, I do, but I don’t. See: decidedly undecided.
I will acknowledge that the sheer volume of media attention is indeed making it virtually impossible, particularly for those folks who are uncomfortable and unable to latch onto the concept, to avoid it. Even in the three and a half years since our transition (to be clear: it is an entire family that needs to transition) the discussion has changed dramatically…and while I applaud the newfound understanding, I worry about it being too much all at once. And, boys and girls, that just gives me one more thing to worry about.

Yes, I have seen the Vanity Fair cover. Yes, I will buy the magazine and read the article. Yes, I believe this is a good thing in terms of paving over the gravel on the road that my kid is travelling. And yes, I think about it every single day. Repeatedly.
No, I don’t think that the people who are spewing hate, anger and vitriol are playing fair. No, I don’t understand why they, as I have already said, give a shit. And no, it isn’t easy to listen to.

The media is entirely schizophrenic on this subject and has caused tremendously good and fantastically horrid banter. This, in my mind, only breeds more anxiety on both sides. I love that transgender is part of the national discussion. I hate that it is, too. I just want my kid to be whomever she is…girl, boy, somewhere in between.

Yes, I am decidedly undecided.

Explain This

When George was two, my parents went to an afternoon movie after which they were going to come to my house to babysit. Around 6 that evening, my mother called to tell me that they were not “coming over” after all. “Um, you weren’t coming over, you were babysitting…” I said in a perhaps less charitable tone than I should have. It was then that she explained that my father had fallen asleep during the movie and she was unable to wake him. Huh? What does that even mean? Since he was a Type 2 Diabetic, she had tried, in vain, to feed him some of the Jr. Mints left over in his lap. (He must have “fallen asleep” early on…there was little that would keep my father from emptying a box of those little gems). Suddenly aware that something was quite wrong, I told her to meet me at the hospital.
When she arrived there with him he was, apparently, in such a frightening state (important visual: my father was 6’1”, my mother 5’1”…imagine her trying to “carry” him in) that they immediately bedded him and started to try to figure out what was wrong. It was a long night. By the end, we knew that he had had a stroke. That was the good news. The answer to the question following the routine chest x-ray of, “are you aware there is a large mass in your chest?” was “um, no”. That was the bad news.
At the time, I was a (mostly) happy stay at home mom. I had stopped working not too long before, in part because George was so wild and busily beating his own drum that the family day care sort of, kind of, might have thrown her hands in the air and cried uncle. So, the only help I had was for the one (okay, sometimes two) hours a day I would drop him off in the babysitting room at the JCC and (usually) work out. There was a lovely older woman named Alla there who was solidly unafraid of George. Perhaps it was the fact that she was Israeli and, as such, able to withstand more than most, but it doesn’t much matter. Not only could she handle him, she freakin’ adored him. The admiration was reciprocated and all was right, if only for one (okay, sometimes two) hours a day.
I was a no-show for several days following my father’s diagnosis. When I finally returned and told Alla what was going on she asked how she could help. She knew I had no other coverage and that the babysitting was only for when I was in the building (theoretically) working out. Without hesitation she offered to watch George at her home for as much time as I needed, for as long as I needed. At the moment, I hadn’t realized how desperate I was for help and after asking her about a hundred times if she was sure, accepted her offer.
George and Alla hung out together for the next several weeks. I would deliver George to her and know that he was safe and happy, even though it was evident that the world around me was crashing in. I still feel indebted to her and never will forget the kindness she showed me and George.
I’ve seen Alla many times over the years. I am even relatively certain that I have told her that George is now Jess. But, either I didn’t or she does not recall…because each and every time I bump into her, she asks for her “boy George”. Every. Single. Time.
Yesterday, I ran into Alla. Literally. I was coming around the corner at the market and our carts collided. We embraced. I told her, as I always do (because it is true) that she simply doesn’t age. She caught me up on her kids, two docs and one who is set to graduate next week from Harvard Law. And, as always, she asked about her “boy George”. I told her that “everyone” is great, getting older, keeping me on my toes. I mastered the ol’ sin of omission by not engaging in one single pronoun. She asked if I had any recent pictures and I, um, lied, and told her that my phone was in the car, hoping against hope that it didn’t ding, ping or ring right then and there. I was secretly relieved that Jess was not with me. Not because I am ashamed, but because it simply feels like it is too late/too exhausting/too old news/too overwhelming/too much a part of everyday life that I sometimes forget to have to explain it again.
This is not the first time I have skirted the issue of “explaining.” I have omitted the details to my elderly neighbor who moved away years ago, but with whom I still keep in touch – primarily by phone. I once skimmed over the details of the facts with two little kids who were too young and new to our family to tell. I was later accused of lying to them which stung a little, but I know I did the right thing by “explaining” only what they would understand. Things like this come up all the time. No, really: all.the.time. And, if I am being honest, I am getting tired of having to explain to every Tom, Dick and Harry that my daughter started off as my son.
Then, late yesterday afternoon, just hours after my encounter with Alla , “explanation time” came up again when I took Jess to Urgent Care for an ear infection. I checked her in, ponytail and pink-checked lounge pant-clad Jess who happens to have an insurance card that says George. I leaned in and asked the receptionist to please call her Jess and use female pronouns which, not surprisingly, caught her off guard. To her credit, she had a quick recovery, wrote it on the intake form and moments later, Jess was called. And then! Then, the doctor came back in with the prescription which was written for Jess, forcing me to tell her (kind of again) that the script had to say George. So many Ts to cross, so many Is to dot.
Jess is used to it. She heard me tell the folks at the new allergist’s office. And the blue-haired gal taking names at Super Cuts, and the on-call pediatrician, and the camp directors, and the gymnastics teacher… She’s corrected people who slip up and others who should know better than to, um, slip up. It happens.
Anyone who has ever read a word of this blog knows how I adored my father. What you might not know, however, is that I felt the same way about his father, my grandpa, who was named…yep, George. In 2001, most people were not naming little boys George. I even hesitated a little, worried that he wouldn’t be able to pull it off. But he could and did better than pull it off – he killed it. He was the man. He was Georgie, Georgieporgiepoopoo and “boy George”. On paper, she still is. Every so often, Jess will ask that we change her name legally, but never with an intense and desperate need. If and when that happens, it happens…but for now, it’s all cool.
So, I will continue to forewarn, correct, whisper, lean in and remind folks that the name George on the form is only the name on the form. I will share as necessary. I will keep my mouth shut when there is no purpose in telling our story. She is just my kid who doesn’t always need to be explained, but if she does, knows I’ve always got her back…just like my dad and Alla did.