The best birthday present ever…

Aka, I love my parents :)

I should know my Mom by now. I get my complete inability to handle surprise situations from her. She tends to get upset and lashes out when faced with an unfamiliar situation, only to be totally fine later on.

This morning (once we buried poor Bean) we headed off to our favourite Thai restaurant for lunch with Emma. Then, following Jeremy’s counseling appointment, we headed over to my parents’ house. Emma and Jeremy went immediately upstairs to work on Jeremy’s hair. I wandered up a little while later and knocked on the door.

“Can I come in?” I asked.

“Sure. You’re good,” Emma replied.

I stepped inside and Jeremy spun to face me. He was wearing a navy blue sleeveless dress and his hair was pulled back from his face with black barrettes.

“You look very pretty,” I commented before giving him a quick hug.

“Thanks,” he replied with a smile. He spun back to the mirror and his smile grew more uncertain. “I don’t know why I look so good in women’s clothes.”

“C’mon,” Emma urged. “Let’s go put on some makeup.”

Emma loved dressing Jeremy up and trying different styles of makeup on him when they were little. This faded over the years; when I look back it was around the same time she grew more frustrated with him. I had a heartfelt talk with her a few weeks ago and she tearfully told me she’d been being hard on Jeremy because she was scared of him getting bullied. She hadn’t realized how much her behaviour was hurting him.

I headed back downstairs to chat with my parents and came back up a half hour later to tell them it was dinner time. Jeremy had changed out of Emma’s dress but his shirt was sweaty so Emma had given him a tank top to wear along with a sports bra. He quickly covered them up with a plaid shirt and went to scrub his face. Most of the makeup washed away but he went downstairs wearing his sister’s shirt, mascara, and black barrettes.

My parents said nothing about his appearance. They laughed and joked with him like usual while Jeremy tried to pass his quietness off as being tired. He picked at his meal. Then came dessert. My Mom usually makes angel food cake for birthdays but there’s no way to make that vegan, so she had ice cream, sorbet, and fruit salad. Jeremy got himself a big bowl of ice cream then my Dad snuck it.

“Granddad,” Jeremy laughed. “That’s mine, give it back!”

My Dad laughed as well, wrapping his arms around the bowl. “No, it’s mine,” he insisted.

Jeremy made a feign then grabbed the bowl back and the ice was broken. Once his bowl was empty, he turned to Emma.

“Can we go back upstairs now to do my hair?” he asked. And off they went.

I was showing my parents how to download pictures from Facebook when Jeremy and Emma came downstairs. Emma had made two small braids at the front of his hair and something called a fish tail on the back.

My parents looked over.

“Your hair looks nice,” my Mom said warmly and my Dad nodded agreement. Then both kids went outside.

Nothing was said about the purple metallic nail polish on Jeremy’s toes or the pinkish-beige polish on his fingers. It was, hands down, the best birthday present ever.

One of my regrets from when Jeremy and Emma were younger was I never took pictures of Jeremy dressed in anything but boys’ clothing. I was so worried about embarrassing him when he grew up with silly pictures of his childhood; it never dawned on me that he might want them or how he’d feel about his photo-happy mother never taking those photos. Today I took a tonne.

(((hugs))) Jeremy a bit tighter…

I really don’t understand people sometimes. I just don’t…

LGBTQ Youths with Unsupportive Parents Sound Off Anonymously with Whisper App

And… it’s my 44th birthday. First thing that happened was I went to feed the guinea pigs and found our smallest and shy one dead on the cage. They’d just turned six years old. So we’re off to bury little Bean before lunch.

Plus side is it’s not like the day can get much worse… it’s got to be uphill and sunshine from now on. At least once the poor little piggy’s buried.

Happy birthday to me…

It’s my 44th birthday tomorrow and I had my party yesterday, which a whopping three people were able to attend. Ironically enough, two could only stay for an hour then they left and an hour later the third guest arrived, so I had my party in shifts.

P couldn’t attend as his husband M was working and he’s too shy to come on his own, but he sang happy birthday to me on the phone and promised we’d all get together soon. Emma’s at her boyfriend’s family cottage for the weekend but she booked my actual birthday off and is taking me out to our favourite Thai restaurant for lunch. And two more friends are taking me out for dinner on Thursday.

I was my usual scatterbrained self although, like usual, I went into the preparations with the best of intentions. I even made a list of chores just so we’d be organized. I was determined I would have all the veggies chopped for the tempura and start frying it by 4:30pm so I’d be ready for guests to arrive by five.

The morning started off quite relaxed. We both took turns eating breakfast and showering then I leisurely washed the dishes while Jeremy cleared all his electronic bits and pieces off the table, couch, floor, computer desk, and chair. Then he cleaned the guinea pig cage while I gave the piggies a bath and trimmed their nails. Okay, that part wasn’t relaxing for the piggies but they smelled a lot better.

By then we were both starving and took the time to eat at our newly cleaned table.

“You’re so pretty,” I blurted after watching Jeremy for a while.

“Not handsome?” he asked, looking at me quizzically.

“Handsome too,” I agreed. “Would you rather be called handsome?”

He shrugged then said, “Not really.”

“What would you rather be called?” I asked. He shrugged again. “How about fabulous?” I suggested.

Jeremy snorted. “Like that would even work,” he said with all the scorn a seventeen year old could muster.

“You look fabulous,” I pointed out. I could tell by his expression he knew I was right.

“Yeah, I guess…” he murmured. “How about good?”

“Okay,” I agreed. “You look good.”

We cleared off the table and went back to our chore list. I was still confident we’d be more than ready in time. I could see my table all set; a scattering of glitter sprinkled across, my rattan lights softly glowing, my cake all covered in the candles we’d bought yesterday (I’d been aiming for mini sparkler candles but Jeremy fell in love with the rainbow candles with coloured flames instead), and my snazzy paper straws.

Four thirty found me yelling at Jeremy, “What do you mean you used all the vinegar when you cleaned the guinea pig cage? What am I going to mop the floors with?”

He looked at the empty bottle and shrugged. “We’ve got red wine vinegar under the cupboard. Would that work?”

I pictured the apartment smelling like the dumpster behind a bar then realized it was moot, there was no way I could sweep and mop before five o’clock and I still hadn’t made the frosting for the cake, let alone decorated it… and hadn’t even started chopping the veggies that I was supposed to be cooking right this minute.

“Are you okay Mom?”

“Not last time I checked,” I replied. “Can you sweep?”

He made a valiant attempt while I got the frosting ingredients out. Then I pulled the cake out of the freezer and sighed. I’d already had to dump the centre of both layers because they were gooey (vegan here… I didn’t poison anyone with raw egg goop) but they’d sunk even more. I put a bunch of frosting in the centre, hoping to fill it out a bit then started spreading frosting over the top. Crumbs started rolling everywhere but at least I was coating the whole cake in Oreo crumbs so they wouldn’t show up. That was when I realized a cake covered in baking crumbs looks like it got dropped into the dirt then dusted off and stuck on a plate. Hopefully it would taste good.

Jeremy was quiet when my first two guests were here. He said “hi” then went right back to the computer and his game. Then my third guest arrived and he turned into a model host. He insisted on giving her a tour of the whole apartment, introduced her to all the cats, and showed off his electronics. She’s a new employee, he’s never met her before, but somehow they just clicked. He got out a charger so she could charge her phone then showed her some features. At one point in the evening he made a huge derp face.

“I’m so handsome,” he joked.

“I thought you were good,” I quipped. He looked at me like I’d completely lost my mind.

“No, I’m handsome,” he said patiently.

Alrighty then. He’s handsome in public and good in private… at least until everything changes again with no warning.

The evening moved on to sharing different songs. It turned out we all love Penatonix. We listened to a couple of their songs then my coworker had a song to share where everyone took turns playing the same guitars. I shared a version of Royals sung a capella by a teen using a cup for percussion. Then Jeremy plugged his speakers into his netbook.

“I have a song,” he announced. He could barely hold back his grin. That grin just screamed mischief.

“Let me guess, Diggy, Diggy Hole,” I said drily. “It’s a Minecraft song,” I added before I sang a bit of the chorus. I only needed to sing a bit, the song is very repetitive. Jeremy’s grin grew wider.

“I bet it is,” she agreed. “He’s got a suspicious look.” Jeremy giggled.

A few soft piano notes… this definitely wasn’t Diggy, Diggy Hole. Jeremy had put on Same Love.

He started playing Same Love about a week ago, ostensibly for me. I like the song but I’ve never hunted it out (other than when it first came out and I showed it to both the kids) and don’t have it saved on my computer. Jeremy has it saved on his though and plays it several times a day.

My coworker started singing along and Jeremy switched from an “it’s just a joke” grin to a genuine smile.

It was a great day.

My Oreo cake

He’s a boy?

It was a busy and crowded day at work. I finally got on my first bus home and realized I’d missed a phone call from Emma; she’d called almost an hour earlier. There was no message. I’d planned on spending the first bus ride unwinding while scrolling idly through Facebook but really wanted to know why Emma had called. We ended up spending the whole trip chatting.

I got onto my next bus and figured that would be my unwinding time. I had my finger on the Facebook icon when a little kid plunked down beside me. Little kids like me when I’m on my way home from work. I probably smell like doughnuts.

The mother had three kids, multiple snacks, and a big stroller to navigate. She handled all of them well. The kid beside me had longish hair in a girl’s cut and a girl’s name but everything else screamed boy… from the large Spiderman action figure, clothes directly from the boy’s department, and dark blue and red Spiderman sandals. She bounced and fidgeted in her seat, flipping Spiderman around the seat-rest of the empty seat ahead of her then through the air, only pausing long enough to hold four fingers in the air when I asked her age.

“I have a Spiderman mask,” she commented. “I forgot it at home.”

I grabbed her arm as she swooped her toy a bit more enthusiastically and nearly tumbled out of the seat.

“My little boy wore a Spiderman costume one year,” I said idly, once she was upright again. “But he’s not very little anymore.”

I debated on showing her his photo. In one way it felt a bit like opening a can of worms and besides, little kids aren’t usually interested in looking at photos of a stranger’s kid. I threw caution to the wind and swiped my phone back on anyway.

“This is my boy,” I said as I flipped to Jeremy’s picture.

“He’s a boy?” she blurted. “He looks like a girl.” I’ve never seen anyone’s eyes get that wide before.

“Yes,” I replied. “He does look like a girl but he likes being called he.”

“He really looks like a girl though,” she said in amazement. She moved her head a bit closer and stared, absolutely entranced. “He looks like a girl.”

“Yes, he does,” I repeated. “Sometimes boys can look like girls and sometimes girls can look like boys.” I figured that was fairly safe to say.

“He got a purple cake,” she said, her eyes still glued to the screen. She’d been sitting almost motionless for about a minute by then. I had a feeling this might have the quietest she’d been all day, apart from sleeping. I flipped to another photo and showed her how his candle opened up and spun.

“He looks like a girl,” she said once more. That was when I showed her Mom Jeremy’s picture as well, figuring “the boy who looks like a girl” might feature prominently in the conversation once they were off the bus. Mom deserved to know what the heck she was talking about.

I turned the phone back to the kid while the Mom and I talked about long hair on boys. How her toddler’s hair had such cute ringlets but he didn’t like them lying hot and sticky on his neck.

Then it was their stop.

“Say goodbye to the nice lady,” her mother prompted. The kid turned and waved, her hand opening and closing into a fist, Spiderman clutched in her other hand, sailing through the air beside her. And then they were gone.

Boys will be boys…

This video by Laurie Petrou showed up on my Facebook newsfeed yesterday and I felt it was definitely worth sharing:

She also has a very interesting page on gender stereotypes that changes every time you open it, titled Do we see the world through a gender binary?

For the record, Jeremy’s nickname was Sweetie when he was little. He had his own baby named Kip which he wheeled around in a little pink stroller… when he wasn’t driving dinky cars along the floor (while telling them to be careful and not get hurt). Emma’s nickname was Sunshine. She loved to catch bugs, roll down hills, and play with her baby Lisa.

It’s a boy! It’s a girl!

I got asked a question on Twitter yesterday…

“Why do pple get excited learning the sex of their baby? Would they not be as happy if results were different?”

I tried my best to answer the question on Twitter but 140 characters just wasn’t enough space (even 280 didn’t cut it) so I’m writing my answer here.

I remember being pregnant; that sense of unreality when two little lines appeared on a white plastic stick. I didn’t look any different or feel any different, it was hard to believe I would be a mother in less than a year. Well, unless I miscarried (which I did twice). The weeks crept on, I got a bit queasy and the waist of my pants grew a bit snug but that was it.

You often can’t feel the baby kick until almost halfway through the pregnancy and even then, it feels like a bit of gas or a twitchy muscle for several weeks after that. Around that time came the ultrasound; it was a window to the other side of my normal looking, albeit rounder, stomach. A chance to finally get a glimpse of the stranger everyone assured me that I’d love more than life itself.

Being pregnant was like being told I’d soon have a roommate… for the next 18+ years. Except there would be no interviews, no background checks, and no references. I had no idea what this person was going to be like (other than messy and very dependent). No one could tell me what the baby would look like other than having four limbs, all their digits, eyes, a nose, and a heart that looked fine. They couldn’t tell me if the baby would enjoy music, be quiet or outgoing, be fascinated with bugs or books, or serve a mean invisible tea from plastic cups. They could, however, tell me the sex… possibly… if the baby’s legs weren’t crossed. I took it, at least that was something tangible in a vast sea of nothing. Plus it would let me know if we needed to keep arguing over boy’s names (both sides of the family have horrible names for boys). Emma had her legs crossed. Jeremy didn’t.

And then there’s the more practical issues. I went to buy a newborn outfit three years ago. The parents thought the baby might be a girl but the ultrasound wasn’t clear so I figured I’d get something fairly neutral. There wasn’t anything. Every single piece of clothing in the baby’s department was either pink with flowers and butterflies or blue with sports and nautical themes. I ended up picking the least frilly pink clothes in the department and added a receipt. The baby was a girl (well so far at least) so luckily the outfit was fine. Babies need clothes desperately. They vomit copious amounts of milk all over themselves and everyone around them. They’ll crap so hard it ends up between their toes and through the back of their hair (and I really wish I was exaggerating). The sooner you know what’s between their legs, the sooner you can amass a supply of clothes.

And every. single. person asks, “so, do you know what you’re having?” as soon as it’s obvious you’re having a baby and not just consuming lots of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. The answer “a baby” does not satisfy the nosy, although I did find “a baby with blue eyes” confused a fair number of them. Likely the ones who slept through high school science classes.

I guess whether they’re disappointed depends on what each parent was looking for. I was looking for a baby, preferably healthy. Having a boy worried me a little because I’d grown up around girls and didn’t know what to expect, but hearing “it’s a boy” from the ultrasound technician wasn’t a disappointment. Looking down while I was delivering Emma and announcing, “It’s a girl” wasn’t a disappointment either.

I’m sure there are people who are disappointed for various reasons. Maybe they wanted a second boy or girl so their oldest would have a friend. Maybe they wanted one of each. Maybe they had bad experiences with their own sibling and were worried about raising a similar child. Or, more seriously, maybe there’s sex linked health issues in the family and they’re worried about bringing a child into the world who’ll face pain and suffering. But I have a feeling most parents are like me, simply happy to finally have something to know about their baby, something tangible to share with others and plan around.

I’ll wait until tomorrow to talk about stereotypes.

Emma’s Tumblr Post…

I can’t post the link because it is under her real name and includes photos of Jeremy, including his face, but simply had to share it for her words. It brought me to happy tears…

The Difference a Year Makes

My “little” brother (he’s 6’2, so I don’t think I can quite call him little anymore) just turned 17 in June. And man, is it amazing the difference a year can make in a person.

This is my brother on his 16th birthday: [pretend there's a picture of Jeremy with his Minecraft cake]

And this is my brother on his 17th birthday: [pretend there's a picture of Jeremy lighting his flower candle]

Let me start out by saying that my brother gets a lot of crap from family members, he’s autistic and nobody bothered to look into that when he was diagnosed, they just like to give him shit and tell my mother what she’s been “doing wrong”. My mother is one of the strongest people I know, and I admire her way more than I would ever actually say out loud, she didn’t do anything wrong in raising us.

My mother raised a smart, talented, outgoing, courageous, young gentleman who stands up for what he believes in.
Lately what he believes in has been getting him bullied. At school, by strangers and worst of all; by family.
He believes that if he likes purple, he can wear it. If he likes long hair, he can have it. If he likes his hair dyed pink, blue, purple, ect, he can do that. If he likes sparkly things, he can own them.
My mother and I support that 200%.
He’s not hurting anyone in doing so, he’s not stealing hair dye from stores because he has the right to purple hair. He’s saving his money (or getting it as a treat from my mom), purchasing the dye, and then minding his own business while he lives his life with purple hair.

Society is telling him he’s wrong. Family is telling him he’s wrong.

My brother has done a complete 180 from what he was like a year ago. He used to go outside and bike around for hours, he’d go and goof off with his friends, he used to know almost everyone in the neighbourhood. Now? Now he doesn’t leave the house without my mother, I haven’t seen him with another kid in months. My outgoing brother doesn’t leave the house anymore. Why? Because he’s scared.
He gets people screaming names at him from their cars, my boyfriend almost punched a guy out in the grocery store one day because a grown ass man with a child was making fun of my brother’s hair.

I listen to my family yell at Jeremy, and usually it’s not for valid reasons.
“You’re a boy; cut your hair”
“You’re a boy; cut your nails”
“You’re a boy; it’s not the same when you dye your hair purple as it was when your sister did it”
What are they saying when they say this?
“You’re a boy; and this is what we think you should like.”
“You’re a boy; and you can’t be who you are because of that”

I listen to them make out like my brother is a piece of shit who they’re disappointed in. [pretend there's a photo of Jeremy with bright purple hair, flipping his little cousin on the trampoline]

Yes, my brother is a huge disappointment. Look at how much fun he and our 8 year old cousin are having.
What a disappointment, he doesn’t drink, smoke, do drugs, steal, or even really lie.
What a disappointment, he gets good grades.
What a disappointment, he wants to be himself.

Lately though, he’s been showing a lot more female than male traits. My mom and I don’t know if he’s trans identifying as female, or trans identifying as gender neutral. We don’t even know if he knows, all we know right now is that he’s identifying as gender-nonconforming (he doesn’t quite fit in with either gender).

My mother’s birthday is on Monday, and we’re having a big family dinner.
Jeremy’s taken to shaping his nails, polishing them and painting them beige. He wants my mom to do his hair for him, he likes braids.
My family is not going to approve. My nana has already told my mom that if people are going to act “weird” they’ll be treated like that. If he doesn’t want to follow the rules set by society, people are going to talk about it. And that how you look on the outside isn’t who you are on the inside; so he should dress like a typical 17 year old boy and not be himself.

Here’s a question: if who you are on the outside isn’t who you are on the inside; why can’t my brother dress how he wants?

This is my brother who loves Doctor Who, Minecraft, taking apart and rebuilding electronics, purple, red, and sparkly things.
This is my brother who I promised to teach how to fishtail his hair.
This is my brother who has been bullied his whole life for being autistic.
This is my brother who doesn’t leave the house alone anymore because he’s scared.
This is my brother who doesn’t deserve to be bullied by family as well as strangers.
This is my brother who deserves so much more than what they are giving him.
This is my brother who I support 200%.
This is my brother who I hope walks out of the room with both his middle fingers in the air screaming “fuck you, I’m awesome” the second someone opens their uneducated mouth.
This is my brother who I love unconditionally.
This is my brother who has nothing wrong with him.