The wrong way to teach sex ed…

Jeremy and I were having one of those conversations about the silly things zie and zir sister said when they were younger. I told Jeremy about zir unusual conclusion regarding anal sex then, to give the conversation a bit of balance, brought up the time Emma asked me how lesbians had sex… on our way into the local mall.

“There wasn’t much I could say,” I concluded. “I don’t actually know how lesbians have sex. I told her if she was that interested, she could Google it herself when she got older or try it for herself.”

Jeremy gave me a look that said zie was not only concerned about my intelligence but that zie was obviously more knowledgeable than I was.

“Oh Mom,” zie sighed. “Everyone knows how lesbians have sex.” Zie held up zir hand then opened and closed two fingers, bringing them closer to me for emphasis.

“Yes, hon, I have heard the term scissoring before. I just don’t know what it means and have never been interested enough to look it up for myself.”

“Well I know what it means,” zie announced.

I gazed at Jeremy expectantly and waited for zir to continue. I could tell when zie realized why I was silent because that was when the expression on zir face changed from “worldly wise” to “deer in headlights”.

“Oh… well… you see…” Jeremy stammered. “They, umm, put their legs around each other’s necks then open and close them as fast as they can.”

I’d been trying to keep a serious expression but lost it then. That had to be the most unlikely scenario I could come up with and, as usual, unlikely was Jeremy’s first choice.

“Hon, I think you’re confusing lesbians with black widow spiders. No one gets decapitated during sex.”

“But you said you don’t know what scissoring is,” zie protested.

“Seriously Jeremy,” I blurted. “I’m reasonably sure I’d notice if my friends were losing their heads. That’s not how scissoring works.”

“Okay, I guess…” Zir tone was pure reluctance. Jeremy has a really hard time admitting zie’s wrong and that’s the closest zie gets to admitting it.

It wasn’t the best sex ed talk I’ve had with either of my kids but at least Jeremy’s no long confusing lesbians with spiders (seriously, zie will never live that down). All I got out of the conversation was a few laughs and the realization that if Jeremy’s watching porn, there’s a good chance it’s not of the lesbian variety.

The shopping blues…

“Mom, I can’t find a clean shirt to wear,” Jeremy said ten minutes before we needed to leave for the bus.

I got rid of all my larger shirts a month ago but that didn’t stop me from frantically pawing through my shirt drawer and closet just in case I missed something, anything. I hadn’t.

Jeremy liked my black velour holiday shirt with glitter across the front but it was too small. It was also a little over dressed for Wal-Mart but if pjs are appropriate than fancy attire should be too. Jeremy finally declared my very last t-shirt to be “okay”. Zie also took my sweater, one I’d long outgrown but loved too much to give away.

Jeremy expressing zir

Jeremy expressing zir “inner cat lady”.

Both Jeremy and I approach clothes shopping with a sense of despair coupled by a frantic desire to flee, which is why we both need new shirts badly. It’s not that either of us hate clothes particularly, we simply hate what’s out there. Why on earth would a t-shirt need pleats on the back? Or a stripe of completely different fabric along the bottom (but just on the front)? Or an entire front panel that’s a different material? Rips up the side? Ties *and* rips up the side? See through material? Jeremy abandoned me halfway through the shirt section with a promise zie’d meet me at the dressing room if I found anything. Zir “if” sounded dubious. I didn’t blame zir.

I eventually found four shirts for me to try and three shirts for Jeremy before calling zir out of the electronic department. Zie dismissed all three as being too tight and too weird; I had similar complaints. Zie finished first and raced back to the electronic department, asking me to meet zir there.

The sales associate looked up from Jeremy’s pile of shirts as I walked over with mine. She leaned close, obviously concerned.

“Did you know all these shirts are from the ladies department?” she whispered.

I leaned close as well. “Yes, I know,” I whispered back. Then I walked away and collected Jeremy for grocery shopping.

I tried not to glare at the old man blatantly staring at Jeremy when I found zir by the cellphones, although, to be honest, he was so focused on Jeremy I don’t think he’d have noticed if I even stuck my tongue out at him.

I vented to Jeremy about shirts on our way home.

“All I want is a plain, simple t-shirt with maybe a picture or a saying on it. Preferably Doctor Who. That’s it!” I exclaimed. Jeremy nodded.

“All I want is a shirt that’s not too tight and pants that have pockets. Oh and both have to be purple.”

After our last round of shopping I’m thinking we might as well ask for the moon.

It’s not natural…

My alarm went off at 5:45am this morning and Jeremy bounced out of zir bed a few seconds later. Zie was awake all night again and had been watching videos on zir smart phone. I turned off my alarm then synched my Fitbit with my phone. Jeremy surprised me by making my breakfast. Hot chocolate (made with cocoa beans farmed halfway across the world) and an english muffin topped with peanut butter… all previously delivered to our 24 hour supermarket by train, plane, and truck.

I had a quick shower, using our wonderful indoor plumbing, then pulled on my work uniform before running out the door to catch the first of my two buses. The sun was just peeking over the nearby mall, bathing the field beside me with light, causing the dew to glisten. My bus hadn’t arrived so I set my phone’s camera onto macro, turned on the flash, and snapped a couple of shots… sending the best one to Instagram before messaging my best friend Lenny and Jeremy. I also chucked it onto Facebook for my friends to see. Karen and my Mom have already liked it.

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I chatted with Lenny while I was on the bus. Zie lives halfway across the world but, thanks to Facebook Messenger and our smart phones, we can chat instantaneously. Then, when I got to work, I reversed the camera on my phone and took a photo of my coworkers and I waving good morning to Jeremy, who was in another city entirely. Zie saw it a few seconds later.

Okay, my life’s boring. It’s also not natural. I live in a freaking high rise, looking off my balcony to see the tops of the nearby trees, our local mall, and a collection of big box stores. Oh and a lot of little airplanes. I’m typing this on a netbook which I can unplug and carry just about anywhere. We have hot and cold running water in the kitchen and the bathroom, even though we live nowhere near the ground, and I currently have vegan “meat” in my freezer (so yummy and so not natural).

You know what’s natural? Love. Love is natural. Look at animals collecting in groups all over the world to cuddle and groom each other. Look at them separating into pairs… some of them with the same sex. I’m reasonably sure they didn’t pick the idea up from liberal sex education programs.

Gender roles aren’t natural. Some animals have sex specific instincts for mating rituals and child rearing but they vary from species to species. Blackie doesn’t worry about her tummy fat. Angel doesn’t worry that she spreads her legs too wide while grooming. Oreo doesn’t worry that his voice is a bit high pitched. And I have yet to see any of them express concern about Jeremy in a dress. They really don’t care as long as zie feeds them (and scratches their neck in that spot just below the ear).

Pizza rolls aren’t natural either but they’re pizza and gooey. Mmm… pizza!

But seriously, if someone wants to complain about love and gender being unnatural, I don’t think they should be using anything unnatural to share that information. They need to go somewhere completely natural and scratch their message out in dirt with a stick. That will get their point across nicely.

Love Wins

No more pencils… no more books…

 

“Hello? Mrs Green? This is [vice principal]. Jeremy’s on his way home from school now. He was arguing with the teacher over lessons. He wanted to copy files from the school computer to his little zip drive instead.”

I glanced over at the clock. Jeremy had left barely an hour earlier, cheerful and eager. Which was a welcome change although apparently short lived. This was on Friday the 19th and only three more days were left until the end of school. Speaking of which…

“I should let you know, Jeremy has an appointment on Monday so zie won’t be at school that day plus zie has counselling on Tuesday. Zie’ll be back on Wednesday though.”

I waited for the obligatory giggle and “oops, I meant zie” which has followed ever since I had a school administrator come in to discuss the board’s transgender policy last September. It didn’t come. I guess the principal figured she doesn’t need to bother anymore now that zie was almost done school. As if correctly gendering someone only matters when board policy forces it (and when another adult can hear).

“If he wants to come in for an hour on Wednesday to copy his files he can. Over lunchtime.”

Heaven forbid my child inconvenience them by trying to attend zir entire last day of school with the rest of zir classmates.

Then I called Jeremy and listened incredulously. I try my hardest to support zir teachers and strongly feel spelling is important. On the other hand, they know how much Jeremy dislikes the subject. Zie’d missed almost a week of school due to anxiety, which they knew because I called zir in sick with anxiety and panic attacks every day. Plus they only have spelling tests on Fridays so there wasn’t going to be another spelling test ever for zir. So what did the teacher choose to do first that day? Sit Jeremy down with a list of words to memorize. Something that gives zir anxiety on the best of days. Jeremy asked why zie needed to study for a test zie’d never take and was immediately told to go home.

“Other students get sent home for throwing chairs. I get sent home for asking a question.”

Jeremy flipped through mood swings all Tuesday to the point where I wondered if it was possible for zir to have PMS. Zie’d be laughing one minute then start yelling at me, only to burst into tears two minutes later. Then zie’d be laughing again. And zie waffled about school, deciding zie would go only to change zir mind a short while later. It wasn’t until I was crawling into bed that zie made zir final decision.

“I’m not going to school tomorrow,” zie announced in a voice thick with tears. “M already has my number so if he wants to call me he can. Except he doesn’t even know his own number…”

Jeremy’s best friend P moved last year and hasn’t contacted zir once since then. Jeremy can’t call him because his number changed with the move. M is the only local friend zie has currently and they have no contact outside school. Meanwhile zie’d already downloaded zir files from the school’s cloud, all that was left there was a plastic storage container. I can live without that.

“Okay,” I said reassuringly. “I’ll call the school and bus company on my way to work.”

Which I did, making the bus dispatcher laugh when I announced it was my last time calling in. I simply left a message in the school’s voice mail. And now zie’s done, leaving me feeling unsettled… unfinished.

No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks…

Jeremy was so eager to start school… so eager to learn. And zie still is. Zie loves math, loves learning about electronics and computers. Zie’s fascinated with politics and current events. I spent Jeremy’s entire time at high school arguing for zir to take electronics, computers, politics, auto mechanics, a work-ed program to do with electronics or computers. I got shot down every single time. I fought for zir to have testing for learning disabilities and got told “next year” every single year. I asked repeatedly for zir to have a school laptop due to language difficulties and fine motor skill issues and got turned down. The only success I managed was getting them to use the right pronouns and that only happened on paper or when they were prompted. Zir entire high school career was remarkably similar to banging my head against a wall, except it was less fun. And now it’s over. Kind of.

Jeremy cried two nights ago that zie was an adult and had no education.

“No education yet,” I pointed out. “That doesn’t mean no education ever. You’re just starting.”

The principal didn’t ask about zir appointment on Monday. She was just glad zie wasn’t going to be at school. If she’d asked, she’d have found out zie’s getting psychometric testing. And once zir anxiety’s a bit more under control, zir real education will begin.

A tale of two memes…

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This meme is funny.

 

MR4M57d

This one isn’t.

I shared the first meme when I saw it on Facebook. I wrote an angry message and deleted the poster when I saw the second. We’d been online friends for seventeen years.

Two completely different reactions for two almost identical memes… except they’re not.

I’m sure everyone remembers the black and blue/white and gold dress from February. If you’ve got an internet connection, you’ve seen it. It’s the dress that took over the world (for a few days at least). I’m pretty sure there were people living under rocks saying, “but it’s blue and black”. I thought the meme was hilarious because it was the colour I saw the dress. Jeremy, who was firmly in the blue and black camp, thought it was funny too. It seemed totally random who saw which colours, which meant both sides were equal.

The second meme is layers of wrong wrapped in three short words. It translates to “if Bruce is so dense to think he’s a woman, he must think this dog is a cat”. There’s no equality here, just a group of people pointing their fingers at her and proclaiming her not only wrong but stupid and destroying society to boot. If you thought it was funny before, do you still think it’s funny now?

She is a woman. Biology is a lot more complicated than XX and XY chromosomes. Not only do people have all sorts of chromosomal variations but I read an article yesterday about people in an isolated village in the Dominican Republic who appear female at birth only to have their penis and testes appear at puberty. And, of course, there’s the brain scans which actually show the differences between cis men and trans women (and cis women and trans men). The people who argue that biology proves she’s “Bruce” are ignoring a heck of a lot of biology.

Also, her name is not Bruce. This should be obvious. People change their names all the time without anyone making a huge deal about it. They go by a nickname for years and decide to switch to their full name, or vice versa. My uncle has gone by his middle name since the day he was born; it’s the name he uses for everything. As far as I know, no one’s complained about it yet. My great-grandmother found out as a senior citizen that her father couldn’t spell her chosen name of Margaret and wrote the nickname Maggie down instead. My great-grandmother was so not a Maggie. That didn’t make her any less Margaret. I’ve met people who changed their birth name simply because they never liked it.

If your neighbour came up to you and said, “I have always hated my name. I don’t feel like a Eunice, it doesn’t suit me. I’m changing my name to Sarah.” what would your reaction be? Would you say, “No, don’t be foolish. Your name is Eunice on your birth certificate so that’s what you’ll always be” or would you say, “Sarah’s a nice name, of course I’ll call you that”? It should be the latter for her and the same for Caitlyn. It doesn’t matter why the name doesn’t suit someone; you call them by the name they chose.

And quite frankly that poor dog is too cute to be caught up in such a hateful meme.

Jeremy’s birthday extravaganza ~ part two

I promised Jeremy two things this birthday; a ride on one of the quad bikes at Centre Island and a rainbow Doctor Who cake. The first got fulfilled on zir birthday… then I had to complete the second.

I cheated when it came to the cake and bought a plain white cake mix which I made with a can of 7-Up (okay, Dollarama’s knock off “billion bubbles” version). Then I got out six bowls and a box of neon food colouring and got busy.

baking cake2

I’ve seen recipes with six layer cakes but I have two pans and not nearly enough patience. Instead I made each layer three colours, giving the cake an almost tie-dyed effect.

rainbow cake

I’ve baked a lot of cakes over the years and most of them I’ve summed up as “good enough”. This one ended up better than I expected…

Doctor Who cake2

Purple, sparkly, and Doctor Who!!! Also, there’s some heavy duty editing here as my camera is quite insistent that purple simply does not exist.

The purple glitter and silver stars represent space while the glittery circle is the time vortex. My reaction was “OMG… I did it! I actually did it!” while Jeremy was quite blase. Zie figured I’d pull off an absolutely magical cake no problem… despite all my previous attempts.

We had zir family birthday dinner at my parents’ house and Jeremy had an amazing time. One cousin made zir a mansion on Minecraft and then they all settled down to play SuperMario on the Wii-U until dinner.

Of course Jeremy’s favourite part of the day was the present opening and my parents’ gifts were a huge hit. Zie really wanted a remote control car, one that was strong enough to take camping and on our walks. My parents bought zir a huge orange behemoth of a truck, complete with horns and rubberized tires. Plus they got zir a red telephone booth shelving unit with windows and a door. Karen bought zir a gift card for video games which was also greatly appreciated.

I’ve tried to keep my most recent disappointment as far away from Jeremy as I can. Emma has borderline personality disorder which is a hard illness to live with from every angle (hers and ours). The two of them had a fight last week which involved Jeremy pushing Emma out of zir room. She says zie pushed her… Jeremy says zie tripped. I figure zie tripped and ended up pushing her harder than zie planned (which is less hard than she claimed). As always, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. This all would have blown over except Emma went on to tell her paternal grandmother about the argument and went on to claim zie’d been assaulting her every single day and I knew all about it. At the time, she was probably in enough emotional pain that it felt like the truth.

Their grandmother completely and utterly sided with Emma, which means assuming her other grandchild is an abusive bully. And Jeremy heard nothing from her all week; not even a Facebook birthday wish. If she truly thinks Jeremy’s been beating up zir sister every day, she obviously doesn’t know zir.

After dinner was eaten, the gifts all examined, and the cake demolished; Jeremy and zir cousins went inside to play Watch_Dogs. Soon it was time to go home. Jeremy begged to stay just a little longer as zie’d promised to show zir youngest cousin something really cool. Except zir character kept getting in massive accidents.

“My character’s immortal,” Jeremy laughed. “He lives through everything!”

“Maybe he’s Captain Jack Harkness,” I suggested and Jeremy shrugged.

“No, he’s not gay.”

I was about to point out Captain Jack wasn’t either when Jeremy looked speculative.

“Or maybe he is,” Jeremy mused and zir face brightened. “I don’t think there’s any storyline involving his sex life. He very well could be gay. That would be amazing!”

We got home and I sent the cards up on our kitchen table.

“Nobody got me specifically boy cards this year,” Jeremy said happily then zie looked more closely at the card from zir grandparents.

“They made sure to pick out gifts they knew you’d like,” I pointed out and Jeremy nodded.

“Aunt Karen didn’t pick out a boy card though. She got one that could be for a girl.”

And zie smiled the sweetest smile before heading off to zir room.

birthday cards

Jeremy’s 18th birthday extravaganza…

“Mom? Can I open my presents tonight? Please?” Jeremy begged. “It would make so much more sense than tomorrow morning. We’re not going to have much time and I could try out stuff before leaving. Especially if I got a remote control car…”

“I didn’t buy you a car,” I interjected. I knew who did and also knew zie wouldn’t get it until Saturday afternoon.

“That’s okay,” zie continued. “No matter what it is, I won’t have any time with it on my birthday morning. We’ll be getting up then going right out for the bus.”

Which was true enough. We had a family dinner to attend on Thursday night then Jeremy opened zir presents from me as soon as we got home.

opening presents

The bluetooth speaker was a huge hit. Zie immediately synced it to zir phone and set it to play in our living room, turning off the lights for maximum effect…

disco lights

Nothing says disco more than instrumental soundtracks from video games.

The other presents were a hit too. Zir Minecraft keychain turned out to be a working chest which zie’s using to store gum…

Jeremy and zir Minecraft keychain

At least zie was last night. At the rate Jeremy goes through gum, it’s probably all gone by now.

The only thing Jeremy wanted to do for zir 18th birthday was to ride a quad bike at Centre Island. I had visions of us picnicking on the lush green lawns under a gorgeous blue sky with downtown Toronto as a back drop behind us. That so didn’t happen.

From the moment Jeremy’s birthday showed up in the extended weather forecast, it called for rain all day. By Thursday, thunderstorms got added as a special treat. The bike rentals are weather dependent. I started frantically trying to think of something else we could do in downtown Toronto. The Hockey Hall of Fame was a definite no. I’m an ethical vegan so the new aquarium wasn’t an option. And Jeremy’s not that fond of heights so the CN tower didn’t seem like a great idea either (especially since heavy rain would destroy the view). After an entire week of waffling I decided to take zir to the island and hope for the best, which we got although it was slightly delayed.

Jeremy made a friend on our last trip to Toronto and she met us at Union Station. The two of them chatted all the way across to the island, where we found the closed and shuttered bike rental shop. My heart sank. Then I saw a sign saying they opened at 10:30am (phew). Ten thirty came… the staff didn’t. I tried the number on their website and the automated voice cheerfully announced the shop opened at 11am. By this time the clouds were breaking up, I hoped someone was looking at the sky and not the forecast.

Jeremy had already asked several times when we’d be having lunch so I figured that would be a decent distraction. I picked a picnic table situated right beside the shop with a view of the pier. Jeremy asked if we could eat on the pier instead. Our food nearly ended up in the lake due to the strong lake winds but Jeremy’s hair looked fabulous…

wind in Jeremy's hair

We got back and finally the shop was being opened. The employee paused while pulling a bike out to inform us the shop opened at 11:30am. Alrighty then… it was time for birthday cupcakes (and the last distraction I had available). Luckily the bikes were out by the time the cupcakes were done and we were the first in line for our quad bike. Jeremy, of course, took the wheel and we were off to explore the island… or as much as we could without crossing any bridges.

Friend and Jeremy on the quad bike1

The bike actually is adorable. I love the little headlights.

The sun even came out while we were riding. Jeremy and zir friend were thrilled with everything. The island school and fire station… the house boats… the playground and mysterious wooden fort (presumably another playground). Meanwhile I peddled, pointed stuff out, and listened to them talk and laugh.

It started to rain when Jeremy’s friend had to leave. We went on a couple of rides at the amusement park but it’s aimed at small children and Jeremy was way too big for most. Even the roller coaster was tiny.

The poor kid thought zie was at risk of decapitation, as if the ride would still be open if every 6ft 2in adult lost their head halfway through.

The poor kid thought zie was at risk of decapitation, as if the ride would still be open if every 6ft 2in adult lost their head halfway through.

The rain turned into a torrential downpour by the time we reached Union Station. I had plans of taking Jeremy to The Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner but it was only 2:30pm and even Jeremy’s not ready for lunch that early. However, I knew of a store in the Eaton Centre which sells Doctor Who items. It wasn’t that far away and we could get there through the PATH. This was the biggest mistake I made all day, although it turned out okay in the end.

The PATH is a labyrinth of food courts and stores under the office towers in downtown Toronto. They’re loosely connected with infrequent maps and signs. Two decades ago I knew the PATH well enough to easily travel to the Eaton Centre but the stores I used as landmarks have all changed. It’s a tedious and confusing route at the best of times, dragging along a claustrophobic teen brought new *excitement* to the experience.

I was finally able to assure zir we were moments away from the actual mall and then we ran into construction… underground… in a mall. The detour continued to lead us further east. Jeremy panicked while I lied and said we’d be there soon. Finally we hit a subway station and I scrambled out as quick as I could, only to realize I recognized nothing. It wasn’t a big deal, we were in downtown Toronto, not the dark side of the moon. I just needed to walk a bit and find…

OH WOW LOOK… A HIDDEN GARDEN!!!

Jeremy’s used to me and my obsession with little hidden parks and followed along behind me. And this little courtyard garden was worth it. Not only were there trees but three amazing fountains. My favourite was the bronze sculpture of tree that shot a spiraling fountain of water into the air.

fountain courtyardI watched Jeremy surreptitiously while I snapped a serious of fountain photos and knew zie wouldn’t make it to the mall without collapsing into a meltdown. Zie needed plenty of quiet and some food. Meanwhile we were standing beside a small, almost empty restaurant. As much as I love The Old Spaghetti Factory, it’s anything but quiet. This restaurant ended up being the best.

Jeremy enjoying zir birthday dinner

Steak, potatoes, and one of Jeremy’s favourite shows, piped comfortably in through zir headphones.

Jeremy was in much better spirits when we left and so was I. They didn’t have anything vegan on the menu but the chef “whipped up” a pasta dish for me that was amazing. And we turned out to be only three blocks away from the mall… where we found Doctor Who earrings for both of us and a full sized sonic screwdriver for zir (the 11th Doctor’s of course).

I’ll write about Jeremy’s family dinner and zir rainbow Doctor Who cake tomorrow.