My invisible child…

Okay, zie’s not really invisible, especially not right now while zie’s screaming at zir video game on the computer, but sometimes it feels that way.

My coworkers are great, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think a single one of them has used Jeremy’s correct pronouns even once. I was showing Jeremy’s picture to a couple of coworkers at lunch today and had this conversation.

“This is my child Jeremy,” I said as I swiped my finger across the screen. “Zie’s wearing the cupcake bracelet zir sister made.”

The coworkers peered at the screen.

“He’s handsome,” one of my coworkers said. “He looks a lot like you.”

“Thank you,” I replied. “I think zie is lovely. Zie’s a beautiful child.”

The coworker turned slightly to the person standing beside her. “That’s Michelle’s son Jeremy,” she said as she pointed at Jeremy’s picture on the screen.

“Zie’s not my son,” I retorted. “Zie’s my child. Zie doesn’t identify as male so isn’t my son.”

I swiped to the next picture and showed off Emma with Tiny Cat.

“She’s pretty,” the same coworker said. “She looks like you too and your son looks a lot like her.”

“Yes,” I agreed. “My daughter and my child look a lot alike.”

And so  it went.

Later I got asked to go outside and change the garbage bins. I was standing beside the break room digging out the vest and garbage bags when I heard the chime of a message. I quickly ran to check it.

“That’s why I don’t have a cellphone,” one of my coworkers said with obvious disdain.

“I’m glad I have mine,” I retorted. “I don’t usually check my phone at work but I’m waiting for information about a friend of mine. Zie hasn’t been feeling well lately.

“Is your friend a boy or a girl?” the coworker asked bluntly.

“Neither,” I replied equally as blunt.

“Oh so like Jeremy?” she asked. I sighed with relief far too soon.

“Yes, exactly,” I replied. The coworker immediately went on to refer to my friend as he/him. I didn’t bother to correct her more than once, figuring at least the pronouns were he/him and not she/her.

And then there’s family. Do they think I’m blind? Do they think I won’t notice they, oops, never like or comment on Jeremy’s pictures? That they never liked or commented on zir coming out post? Especially when they are online commenting on other family’s pictures and posts. To be fair, Karen likes Jeremy’s pictures regularly and my Mom (who’s rarely online) likes zir pictures too. Amy never does and has never responded to my private message or the public one. I’ve pretty much given up on Amy.

Well, Jeremy’s asked about four times if I’m almost ready to watch Doctor Who so I better stop writing and start watching. I’ll leave everyone with an amazing cartoon I found on Facebook. It’s credited and linked to the artist’s page so if anyone wants to share it, just click on the link for the URL…

by Robot Hugs

by Robot Hugs

A friend of mine also shared this link with me: What You’re Actually Saying When You Ignore Someone’s Preferred Gender Pronouns

Emma’s cupcakes…

Emma came over last night and made the most adorable cupcake jewelry for all three of us. This was wonderful for two reasons. One, because the jewelry is seriously cute and two, because she was making jewelry. It’s been far too long. I’ve been missing seeing her interested in making something.

She also showed me her new self-harm recovery bracelets. I didn’t say much about them at the time because I was exhausted and trying to stay awake (I’ll be more animated on your next visit sunshine) but I was thrilled to see all the white beads. White beads are for the days she didn’t think about self-harm.

Emma made the two of us necklaces and Jeremy a bracelet. Here’s a shot of Jeremy with zir bracelet…

cupcake braceletI wish there was a choice between large and medium for photo size. Large is way too large and medium just a bit too small. Or maybe I’m just picky. I also don’t like how WordPress fades my photos unless you hover your mouse over them (anyone know how to fix that?).

Jeremy went off to school today wearing zir bracelet, which tells you how much zie likes it. Zie looked too cute for words on the way out the door.

 

Casting opportunity from MTV…

If anyone’s interested and qualifies. I don’t qualify as the biggest secret I’ve kept from my kids is where I hide the chocolate chips.

*looks at empty chocolate chip bag on the computer desk*

Umm… moving on. Here’s the information:

 

NOW CASTING – Parents & Their Not-Quite-Adult Children!

Are your kids growing up fast and think they know it all – but you know they still need to learn a thing or two from you?

Parents – we all know you weren’t always perfect and made your share of mistakes! Are there lessons you learned the hard way that you want to impart to your children before they head out into the world on their own?

Do your kids have specific curiosities about your past or their childhood that you thought they were too young to hear before but maybe now it’s time to be open and honest?

Email lori@thehousethatcastingbuilt.com with a little about your story, tell us about yourself and your kids, and what lessons from your life you want to impart to them. Please include a few recent pictures.

This is a PAID opportunity to be featured in an airing pilot on MTV.

TEENS CASTING LINK
http://remotecontrol.mtv.com/casting-calls/do-you-suspect-your-family-has-been-keeping-a-huge-secret-from-you/

PARENTS CASTING LINK
http://remotecontrol.mtv.com/casting-calls/have-you-been-keeping-a-huge-secret-from-your-family/

Holding grudges…

It was the summer of 2001. I’d been separated from my husband for half a year and I was lonely. My two local friends weren’t dependable. One suffered from depression and would disappear for weeks on end, refusing to answer her phone or the door. The other was constantly busy and running behind… yelling we’d have to get together soon as she hurried to take her kids somewhere. I desperately wanted to connect with someone but had no idea where or how. Common interests seemed a good starting point so I worked up my courage and wrote out a few signs looking for someone to help organize an atheist group.

Weeks went by with no real interest. I had one phone call but the person was looking for an established group with regular meetings and guest speakers. He asked me to call him back once I got everything sorted out. I hope he’s not still waiting. Over a month later I received another call from a hesitant sounding woman. She belonged to the local Unitarian Universalist church and thought I might be interested in attending, assuring me it wasn’t religious and several members of the congregation were atheists. If we were interested, she’d be willing to drive us there. I agreed to give the church a try.

We showed up on the best possible day. Potluck. Jeremy was thrilled to discover they had free lunch after the service while Emma enjoyed playing downstairs in RE (Religious Education). The lady hadn’t lied. The service was secular and the people were friendly. Even so, I probably wouldn’t have gone back if it wasn’t for the kids. They’d loved church and desperately wanted to keep going. It wasn’t nearly as enjoyable for me.

Every week the service would end and I’d drift, hoping and failing to connect with anyone. People would cluster in groups and chat while I hung around the fringes and tried to look involved; drifting from one end of the room to the other hoping to find somewhere to fit. Then the kids would come upstairs, happily showing off artwork and begging for cookies and then we’d go home.

We’d been attending the church for almost a year when the minister asked if she could come to my home. She claimed it was just a friendly visit, that she tried to meet for tea with every new member and was feeling bad that she’d left our meeting for so long. I ignored my warning bells and said that was fine. She arrived on a gorgeous spring afternoon while the kids were at school and chattered about nothing of substance. Finally it came time for her to leave. She paused with studied casualness then said she’d almost forgot to mention a concern that several members of the congregation had voiced. I knew immediately this was her whole reason for arriving, the friendly visit was nothing more than an excuse. She went on to say that Jeremy was using the wrong washroom and it was bothering people.

Jeremy was in kindergarten at the time and terrified of flushing the toilet (or even hearing it flush). Zie had never been in a public washroom on zir own but that didn’t matter to her. It also didn’t matter that zie was simply going into a stall with me then washing zir hands and leaving. It wasn’t as if zie was running around the washroom, swinging on the doors and tossing the toilet paper. Then she turned it toward me. Didn’t I trust the members of the congregation? It was a small church and everyone was nice. Surely I could be a bit less paranoid and let Jeremy grow up. I couldn’t drag zir into the washroom with me forever. I reluctantly agreed, telling her I didn’t want to hear any complaints about Jeremy’s refusal to flush. The next Sunday I convinced Jeremy to try the mens room on zir own. No one showed any sign of noticing anything different.

If it was just me, I’d have left the church then and never gone back. I didn’t like how she’d manipulated me and lied in order to tell me about the washroom. I looked suspiciously at everyone in the congregation for weeks afterwards. If she was telling the truth, it could have been any one of them who’d chose not to speak to me directly and gone to complain to her. And if she was lying, she’d pinned the blame on the congregation instead of owning up to her own unease. Either way the church wasn’t comfortable for me and didn’t feel comfortable again until she retired several years later.

And now she’s back, not as a minister, just as a member of the congregation. I find myself going through our calendar and avoiding the Sundays where she’s scheduled to speak. I don’t like her, which is something I wouldn’t say to anyone in our congregation; she’s held in high regards there. It’s been over a decade now and I’d let go of my grudge except for one thing. She was there on the Sunday I outed Jeremy. Our new minister made a point of coming to speak with me about Jeremy, talking about how she’d seen zir at the youth group and found zir to be both funny and insightful. She asked about pronouns and how zie identifies. Our former minister hasn’t said a word.

At work today…

It was dark when I woke up this morning. All I wanted to do was turn off my alarm and drift back to sleep. My bed was comfy and my cats were snuggled around me like purring hot water bottles. But I got up because of rent and groceries and all those fun things. Jeremy had a P.A. Day and got to sleep in.

I walked to my first bus in the dark… and the second bus as well. Actually it was still dark when I got off that bus and headed into work. I opened the door and could feel my heart plummet toward my shoes. It felt like I hadn’t even left since yesterday, like I’d gone out the door after work then turned and came right back in. I wanted desperately to go home and still had an eight and a half hour shift ahead of me.

“Michelle!”

One of my coworkers saw me and waved. Then another waved as well. I smiled and waved back before heading into the staff only area.

“Michelle! I saw your Facebook post! I just wanted to say I think you’re such an awesome Mom!” A friend of me hurried over and gave me a hug. “There was one thing I didn’t understand though. In your post you said a word. Transgender. What does that mean?”

“Umm… it’s when your gender and body don’t match. Jeremy looks like a boy on the outside but doesn’t feel like a boy on the inside,” I replied.

She grinned. “You really are an awesome Mom. I wish you were my Mom.” Then she gave me another hug.

I’m not quite 3 months older than her. That would be interesting.

“Michelle!” One of my managers came into the staff only area and grinned when she saw me. “Did you look beside the computer?”

I drew a complete blank. All I could think of was the computer in our break room and I had no idea what anyone could have done to make it interesting. Heck, it’s been slowly dying for months now with no one paying it any attention. I’m guessing the occasional warning to replace the hard drive isn’t a good thing.

“I haven’t got that far yet,” I explained. “I only just got here.”

She laughed. “You goof, I mean your computer at home. Did you sneak a peek at what Jeremy’s making you for Christmas?”

Oh right. I called Jeremy before zie left for school yesterday. Jeremy asked me not to look by the computer because zie’d been working on my Christmas present that morning and left it sitting there.

“No,” I assured her. “I didn’t peek. I really don’t know what zie’s making me.”

She gave me a mock suspicious look. “Okay, I guess I’ll trust you.”

“Michelle! Guess what I made you?” one of my coworkers asked as she came around the corner of the break room.

It was Diwali yesterday so chances were it was a food item.

“Did you make me dal?” I asked eagerly and she nodded.

“I added eggplant and potato to it too,” she said as she handed me a still warm container.

“Thanks,” I said happily and gave her a hug after I opened the lid and sniffed. It smelled wonderful. It tasted just as good too.

And that’s why I commute an hour each way for a minimum wage job… because my coworkers are amazing :)

An Evening of Hope…

I was going to write a blog post last night but I was exhausted and the words just weren’t making any sense so I watched Doctor Who instead. I managed to watch two whole episodes. Jeremy wanted me to watch a third but I figured zie didn’t want me passed out, drooling on zir shoulder, so I went to bed.

On Monday I volunteered to help out at this year’s Evening of Hope. It’s an annual event in our city, remembering LGBTQ people who have died by suicide or murder, and honouring people who have made a difference over the past year. My UU congregation has a button making booth where you can decorate your own button. Jeremy didn’t volunteer, instead I bribed zir to show up with the offer of a chicken or steak dinner. Not that I was extravagant, they were the best steak bits Tim Horton’s had in their warming tray.

Our booth was right beside the bandshell, the closest booth to the washrooms. Which is why I noticed an oversight. I asked who was in charge and got directed to a slightly frazzled looking gentleman on the stage.

“Excuse me? I was wondering if you have gender neutral washrooms this year?”

I was informed both washrooms were, in fact, gender neutral but the person who was supposed to bring posters to cover the male/female signs had forgotten them at home. So I offered to make some and he accepted… probably because he had no idea how bad my drawing skills are…

Just pretend the figure has arms.

Just pretend the figure has arms.

Last year the organizers strung extension cords across the park allowing each booth to set up lights. This year they decided that would be too risky, much to Jeremy’s relief. Zie’d been panicking about the rain and those cords before we even reached the park. Of course that brought about a whole new concern for zir. What would we do for lights? Could they shine a spotlight on us from stage? Could we go back home and get our emergency light? After zie’d asked variations of these questions for several minutes, I decided to give everyone a break and take zir to view the other booths.

It’s a good thing each booth had a roof because the rain started coming down quite heavily. We ran from one both to another, eyeing the free samples and asking questions. Finally we reached Jeremy’s favourite booth, the one offering free cupcakes.

Jeremy and the rainbow cupcake

You can see how hard it was raining by the state of Jeremy’s coat. You can also see zir new sparkly purple tie :)

Jeremy headed home as soon as zie finished eating zir cupcake and I got to work making Lenny’s button. Zie’d asked me to design one for zir. Apparently Lenny wasn’t aware of my poor drawing skills either.

I had an idea in mind, sadly just not the artistic ability. However I tried my hardest and was able to make it at least recognizable. My biggest disappointment is that I set the button down on the table to take a picture and there was a leak in the tent… right where I put the button. So my picture ended up with water splatters.

TARDIS pin

It’s a soggy TARDIS on a pride flag!

I was exhausted when I got home. I’d had choir practice on Sunday so I’d gone to bed later than I’d hoped. Then Jeremy woke me at 1am to say zie couldn’t sleep due to anxiety; zir heart was pounding too hard. I woke up at 3am when Jeremy made zirself tea then again at 3:40am when we had a brief power failure; Jeremy started yelling when all the lights went out. There were tears at 4am when Jeremy went into zir room and re-discovered the tea. Jeremy’s second hand Tassimo leaks and it had dripped all over zir netbook. It was fried. Completely and utterly fried.

My alarm went off at 4:45am. Technically. I shut it off at 4:44am as I hadn’t been asleep in well over an hour. All that kept me going that day was Advil and chocolate… and now I was home and ready for bed. I sat down at my netbook for a quick second as Jeremy looked up from zir video game.

“Mom. When I grow up I’m going to cut off my penis.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” I replied, quietly stifling a yawn. “That would be better off happening in surgery with anaesthesia. It would hurt a lot otherwise.”

Jeremy nodded and went back to zir game while I headed off to bed. Later Jeremy angrily told me zie’d said it as a joke because zie was mad at zir video game.

Alrighty then. I’ve joked before about my metaphorical parenting book. Well it’s missing way too many chapters; I have no clue what’s going on.

*throws the book over my shoulder and walks away*