Insert title here…

Some days parenting is less “I love my kid so much” and more “I cannot strangle my sprog. I’m too weird for prison”. Don’t get me wrong, I love Jeremy but that love gets buried when I walk in the door after a 9 hour shift to discover zie’s done nothing around the house (again). Especially when Jeremy’s excuse is that zie was too tired followed by a retort that zie doesn’t see me at work so zie doesn’t count it as me doing anything. Seriously, this kid is 18 years old and still thinks I disappear out of zir life and do nothing until I appear again.

The excuses I hear for the lack of help are varied. Basically zie’s much too tired/dizzy/overheating/headachy to wash dishes, pick up zir stuff, or take the recycling downstairs to the blue recycling bins. However Jeremy has more than enough energy to rearrange zir room, shuffle around computers/monitors, and rearrange zir plant stand (including moving the entire 6ft shelving unit). As you can imagine, my patience for zir varying issues has faded appreciably.

To make life that much more complicated, I do think zie is struggling with serious issues on top of zir drama queen attitude (zie rocks a tiara for a reason). Jeremy’s sleeping is chaotic at best. Zie’ll spend several weeks going to bed early and sleeping all night then several more weeks will pass where zie sleeps in brief patches, often staying awake for 24 to 36 hours at a time. Some days zie’s chattering and happy, talking non-stop to anyone and pretty much anything.

“Who are you talking to hon?”
“Oh no one, just my laptop.”
“Okay hon. Umm, please let me know if your laptop starts talking back.”

While others will have zir staying in zir room almost constantly, playing video games and watching videos with headphones on.

Then there’s the days zie gets angry. Jeremy’s whole personality changes to the point where zie reminds me of zir father. Zie’ll barrage me with questions, give me no time to answer, then claim I can’t answer them because I’m a) too stupid and b) obviously lying. Zie’ll bring up purchases I made years ago to prove that I’m incompetent at buying things. After all, I bought a computer in 2013 that doesn’t have nearly enough speed for zir current video games. Plus zie knows zie could have fixed our old computer now. Zie’ll swear, call me names, and…

“Mom, I just want you to know I’m not rational when I’m angry,” Jeremy explained in an abashed voice. “It’s scary because I don’t even remember a bunch of the time I’m angry. There’s gaps in my memory.”

I asked my doctor for a referral to a psychiatrist back in September for both Jeremy and myself then double-checked that one was sent. Last Tuesday I decided to call the psychiatrist’s office myself to see where we were on the waiting list. His receptionist called me back while I was looking at coconut milk in the grocery store.

“I always call people within a month of their referral,” she assured me. “Oh yes, I see you now. I called you back in October and left a message.”

October. I tried to remember when I changed my cellphone. Was it October or November? I stayed with the same carrier but maybe the call happened when the phone were being switched. Could she have called right at that time? Did the voicemail disappear during the transfer?

“I have you down as number 905-240…” she listed off a number while I listened in disbelief.

“That’s not my number,” I replied. I changed my number with the doctor when I got rid of our home phone over a year ago. He’s called my on my cellphone to return test results.

We set up a phone interview date for me for the end of June, which I have to call and confirm because a) I was standing in the grocery store holding a tin can and no pen and b) the next batch of information knocked it right out of my mind. I asked her about Jeremy and it quickly became apparent they had no record of zir being referred even though the referrals were sent at the same time. Our doctor is great. He’s patient, friendly, a good listener, and willing to take time to discuss issues with his patients. He’s also really close to retiring. I have no idea where Jeremy’s referral went. The receptionist is going to check with the psychiatrist to see what they can do and call me back. She’s got the right number now.

As of this week I’m not arguing with Jeremy over chores. Zie knows what needs to get done and zie has the choice of doing them or not. The flip side is zie now has a sheet of financial responsibilities that come from zir disability cheque. Once the bills are paid, zie has exactly $100 to spend on zirself. Zie can buy junk food, computer parts, or save it. Meanwhile I have my money. If zie helps out around the house, I will buy zir treats (soft drinks, video games at Dollarama, yet another RC car from Value Village). If zie does nothing, zie gets the bare minimum. Basic healthy food, clean clothes, medication, and a home to live in.

The one chore zie’s not ready to handle is zir daily medication. I gave Jeremy zir pill organizer last week and zie lost it after one day and still hasn’t found it. Then I told Jeremy twice on Saturday to take zir morning medication only to be informed zie’d forgotten while we were at the drug store. At least that explained zir sudden dizzy spells and headache. The down side to me controlling the medication is zir pill schedule is not at regular times. Some mornings Jeremy gets zir pills at 4:30am and other mornings it’s closer to 9:30am, but it’s better than not taking them at all.

Both yesterday and today Jeremy worked on cleaning up zir balcony (we have two) and zie also went on a long walk through our local conservation area with me. Jeremy brought zir laptop and put a webcam on a stick then took pictures from varying perspectives. Hopefully the warm, spring air and sunshine will provide some energy and optimism to zir… and the lure of Dollarama video games and potting supplies will convince zir to wash the dinner dishes!

Colin on zir laptop3

Jeremy taking a picture of the other side of the tree.

Transgender Day of Visibility

trans day of visibility

I made this for Jeremy today while zie went out to Rona to look for “stuff” in general and “needed things” in particular. I’m reasonably sure zie was simply looking for anything to spend money on but zie came home happy with two new plants (both lilies and both well out of the way of our cats) and two wall adaptors that allow zir to plug light bulbs directly into an outlet. I had no idea these were necessities but apparently they are.

Jeremy came home and informed me that zie’s been thinking a lot about zir gender lately and zie’s decided gender is not very important to zir personally.

“I don’t mind when people call me he or him and I’m fine with people calling me she or saying I’m a girl,” Jeremy mused as zie gently pet one of our cats.

“What do you think about me using zie and zir for pronouns?” I asked then watched as zir mouth widened into a huge smile.

“I like those pronouns,” Jeremy said firmly.

Of course it isn’t as simple as that. It bothers zir intensely when people assume zie’s male and persistently refer to zir as he/him. Jeremy’s still furious with zir teachers for constantly referring to zir as a boy and snapped a few days ago when zir father referred to zir as son.

Jeremy’s not male, zie’s pangender so is all genders. And zie is so much more than that. Zie’s a gamer… a computer geek… a Whovian… a cat person… an RC car enthusiast… and someone with a passion for chocolate, flowers, and purple.

Zie’s too fabulous to be invisible!

Life… and all that stuff…

Jeremy’s off visiting zir sister Emma for the day, leaving the apartment quiet… almost overwhelmingly so. Jeremy is not a quiet person. Zie putters all day, long building elaborate water systems for zir plants, upgrading zir computer, and rebuilding zir remote control cars.

plant watering system

This is only half of zir plant watering system.

Jeremy is not quiet during any of this. Zie either has zir music on, a video, or both and zie talks to zirself the whole time. Zie answers zirself too… holding complete conversations. The only time there’s silence is when zie puts on headphones, at least until zie laughs.

I’ve made the most of my quiet day. So far I’ve taken a nap, made myself chocolate pudding, and done some scrapbooking; including a layout of one of my favourite pictures of Jeremy. It’s a selfie zie took last September at the beach.

Colin

And now I’m finally settling down to write before zie gets home. I’ve been meaning to write here for a while but life got hectic. The biggest change is my job; I transferred to a closer location. This is amazing for us because the store is a five minute walk from home instead of an hour long bus ride. At the same time, it’s a huge change for me.

I don’t handle change well *huge understatement*. I left a store where I’d worked for six years. I knew the rules, the location of everything, and all the people. I had coworkers who would hug me as soon as I got to work and coworkers who waved and said “bye” when I left. I knew most of our regulars (and we had regulars that treated the store like their second home).

I’ve lived here for three years and had previously been in the new store four times. Once to drop off a resume, once to pick up tickets to Canada’s Wonderland, and twice to order food. I was so not a regular. I didn’t know a single person who worked there either. I spent just over a week fretting that I made the worst decision of my life. Then I went to leave work one afternoon and several of my coworkers smiled and said “bye” while my supervisor looked sad and said, “you’re leaving already?”. I think it’ll be okay.

The part that’s better than okay is Jeremy. This job means that I wake up at the time I previously had to leave and am home before I used to get on my first bus back. Jeremy sees me for almost two additional hours a day and knows, if zie’s really lonely, zie can meet me at work. Zir mood has perked up dramatically. Zir sleeping is still horrible but a pleasant mood makes up for a lot!

I’m moving forward in other ways too. I got my passport and bought a plane ticket so I can visit Lenny in 201 more days (and 1 hour and 30 minutes)!!! Plus I’ve filed for a divorce from my emotionally abusive ex-husband. As expected, he did not take this well. Since Jeremy is the one who served him, zie got stuck listening to him rant about how much he hates me and how he wants to buy me a one way ticket to London.

Jeremy rolled zir eyes when zie told me this. “I don’t think Dad understands how immigration works,” zie said dryly.

My ex called a short time later wanting to know how he can file a counter claim… for a simple divorce. We’ve been separated for fifteen years, I have no idea what he could want to counter claim about. Child support has long been hashed out and he’s 15 years behind in that. Custody has been dealt with as well. Besides, Jeremy’s almost nineteen years old, I’m reasonably sure any judge would laugh in his face if he wants to renegotiate custody.

Then the call moved back to Jeremy.

“He’s my son!” my ex retorted.

That’s when I lost it.

“Zie is not your son!” I snapped back. “Zie is your teen.”

“What?” his tone was both angry and confused, not a good combination with him. But it was too late to back down now even if I wanted to. Which I didn’t.

“Jeremy isn’t male so zie isn’t your son. And zie doesn’t use he or him for pronouns.”

“Jeremy has never told me this,” my ex replied haughtily. “Until he tells me himself that he doesn’t want me to call him my son, I’m going to continue to use male pronouns.”

That was it. I held the phone out to Jeremy, who’d been sitting beside me the whole time.

“What pronouns do you want your Dad to use?” I asked. I’d expected a quiet zie and zir.

“I am not male!” Jeremy said forcefully. “I don’t want to be called he and him. I want you to use zie and zir.”

I put the phone back against my ear. “Did you hear zir?”

I’ve never heard anyone splutter before but that’s definitely what he was doing. “That doesn’t count! It doesn’t count until I feel like asking him what pronouns he wants me to use. Until then I’m going to keep on using he and him.”

If you ever wanted to know what Jeremy’s father is like, this conversation sums him up completely. Along with the fact that he’s been arguing with Jeremy for weeks now, telling zir that we need to carpet bomb the entire Middle East. That “we” is presumably North America and not the two of them, but with my ex it’s hard to tell. The good thing is, he has nothing more flammable than his own flatulence and a cigarette lighter. Jeremy keeps trying to explain to him that there are millions of innocent people there but zir Dad isn’t overly concerned about things like morality and ethics. Unsurprisingly Jeremy has been cutting zir visits short and they weren’t exactly long to begin with.

With any luck, in another month I can start planning my divorce party. I’ll post pictures of the cake once it’s made.

I should have some sort of conclusion to put here but we’ve got thunderstorms rolling in and I just took a couple of Advil so you’ll have to settle for “The End” and a picture of Jeremy posing with zir Easter dinner.

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Happy spring!

The End!

It’s just a game…

Trigger Warning: Tickling, consent

 

 

They were having so much fun. Karen and Amy giggled and shrieked madly while my Dad and grandfather laughed. I hovered at the outskirts of the living room, watching as my sisters edged closer only to be caught and tickled before wriggling free. They’d do this repeatedly, while I burned with the need to join and belong. Maybe this time would be different.

I crept closer, eagerly hoping for excitement and adventure. It would be fun; my sisters’ giggles promised. A hand grasped my wrist and I was caught.

“Look who I caught!”

Was that my Dad? My grandfather? I could smell his stale sweat, feel the rasp of his shirt against my cheek. Another hand grabbed my leg then hands darted into my armpits and danced up and down from my ribs to the sides of my stomach.

Laughter exploded from me… harsh and heavy, punctuated with gasps. When I ran my fingers lightly up and down my forearms, the sensation was light and feathery, a happy feeling. This was raw and overwhelming to the point of pain. Tears streamed down my cheeks.

“No! Stop! Please!”

The words had to be pushed out between laughs. Squeezed from aching lungs. I kicked and writhed but their grasp stayed firm and the hands continued. My bladder grew tight and firm, my underwear dampened. Not again. Tears seared painfully red cheeks. Only babies wet their pants and I wasn’t a baby any more. I was big. Big enough to walk to school alone (and I had to be alone because none of the other kids would walk with me, not even Amy). I was already too weird and too stupid, something all the other kids knew. I couldn’t be a baby too.

A flood of urine gushed out and the hands released me, letting me scuttle from the room… hoping in vain that no one could tell. I’d strip in the bathroom, washing the streaks from my legs. It hadn’t been different at all. Why was it okay for Karen and Amy? They enjoyed it. They didn’t wet themselves. How come it was just me?

My Mom would show up around then with a fresh change of clothes and a reminder that it was my fault. My Dad and grandfather hadn’t sought me out. I’d gone to them and asked to be ticked. If I couldn’t handle it, I shouldn’t ask. How were they supposed to know I wanted them to stop? I’d been laughing.

“But I said no,” I protested once.

“And you were laughing,” my Mom responded. “Why would they believe your ‘no’ when you were laughing? They thought you were joking. If you don’t like it, don’t ask to be tickled. You’re the one who asked for it.”

Her words spoke clearly. This was my fault. The tickle fights stopped as we grew older but my memories and shame didn’t fade.

“Why did you stop?” Emma said in bewilderment. My hands hovered by her ribs, motionless.

“You said no,” I replied. “No means stop.”

I hoped I sounded firm. My heart pounded and I felt anything but confident. My Mom’s voice echoed from memories. You’re overreacting. This is your fault. You’re being silly. It’s just a game.

“But I was joking,” Emma protested. “I didn’t really mean no.”

Was I overreacting? Maybe. But at the same time my heart couldn’t handle tickling her while she said no.

“We don’t joke about no and stop. If you say either I stop until you ask me to start again.”

She rolled her eyes, like only a threenager can, but complied and was soon giggling again. In a short while her “no” wasn’t followed by “yes”. She wanted up and happily darted away to play at something else.

My Dad was sitting in the living room and Emma ran forward, wanting tickles. As usual, no and stop quickly followed.

“I stop when they ask,” I said firmly. “Those are my rules.”

How big was my heart? It squeezed all the air out of my lungs, pressing them painfully against my ribs. What if he refused? What if I had to make a big deal about something everyone in my family said was nothing? Emma lay on the floor oblivious.

My parents protested that I was being silly but complied. My heart shrunk back to it’s normal size. Both my kids see tickling as something light and fun although they quickly learned tickling was something they couldn’t do to Mommy. Not without evoking tears.

As for me. I’ve been woken up too many times by an uncle, father, or grandfather who saw my raised arms as an open invitation to tickle. I was a grown woman, separated from my ex-husband, before I could sleep with them raised again. Having them raised with anyone nearby leaves me feeling more than naked… completely vulnerable and exposed. Tickling makes me cry and I panic when someone touches my sides.

This should be where I have some poignant insight, at least according to almost every post and article I’ve read. Some heartwarming or thoughtful conclusion. But I don’t. I feel raw, vulnerable, and like it’s entirely all my fault. If I was a better person; more normal, less weird, more able to cope with reality and the world in general I wouldn’t feel like this. It was tickling, it was just a game, it was supposed to be fun. I should have known better.

I was eight.

Raising the trans equivalent of Jello…

Persistent and insistent.

These are the two words I see over and over when it comes to transgender children. In some ways they describe Jeremy, especially when it comes to electronics and anything purple (seriously, no, you don’t need a purple miniature frying pan when you don’t even cook) but they don’t describe zir at all when it comes to being trans. Jeremy can be so vague and ambivalent I end up feeling like I’m raising the trans equivalent of Jello.

I’m not going to say Jeremy never gave me any signs of being trans as a child because zie was definitely gender creative. Zir favourite colour was pink and zie loved Barbie, stuffed animals, and taking zir baby out for a walk in the stroller.

gender creative Jeremy

The flip side is zie was also passionate about Magic School Bus, Thomas the Tank Engine, Bob the Builder, and just about anything with wheels…

Jeremy watching Granddad fix the car

Jeremy “helping” Grandad and zir uncle fix the car

Jeremy cheerfully wore zir sister’s second hand clothes but was just as happy with Hotwheels shirts and Pokemon runners. Zie loved zir pink Build a Bear and zir Matchbox cars track and went from a very feminine looking long hairstyle to a buzz cut with equal appreciation for both. Even when zie got older and increasingly uncomfortable with pronouns, Jeremy didn’t come right out and say so. A friend of mine finally suggested a trial run of pronouns and it took changing temporarily to they and them before Jeremy finally admitted zie was trans (after months of hinting).

The only real persistence Jeremy has is the insistence that zie is definitely trans and even that’s somewhat vague. At this point Jeremy’s not sure if zie’s pangender but knows zie falls somewhere on the trans spectrum. I’ve assured zir that, yes, it’s fine not to know and zie will sort zirself out eventually. I’ve also assured zir that it’s okay to be pangender and interested in RC cars, computers, and rebuilding and rewiring everything in the apartment. It’s equally all right for zir to be female and interested in RC cars, computers, and rebuilding and rewiring everything in the apartment. Zie was very relieved about both.

Which is why I’m posting this. In an online sea of posts about toddlers demanding dresses or blue boy jeans, there needs to be an additional narrative. Not everyone sorts out their gender at two and it’s equally important to realize that someone who doesn’t figure out their gender until after puberty has just as valid a narrative as someone who sorted it all out at three. And they are just as photogenic and awesomely cute (although I could be biased there).

our new hall light

Absolutely adorable and very handy. Jeremy found this Tiffany lamp and installed it in our front hall. Next to work on shortening the chain a bit:)

Religion, the original gated community…

Michelle, hope all is well and I am being very kind to myself. Thank you for asking but how are you doing?

Those words might sound mild, even a bit positive, but they brought tears to my eyes. Tim most certainly isn’t being kind to himself and there’s nothing I can do about it. His life is a tragedy in slow motion and one I’ve been watching for years.

The first thing I noticed about Tim was his vibrant personality. Even though he was still in high school, his enthusiastic energy was almost palpable; his smile as bright as his hair. The second thing I noticed were his mannerisms. Everyone knows the stereotype of a flamboyant gay male. That was Tim, right there. The kid might as well have worn a t-shirt with the caption “why yes, I am very gay”. We worked together for almost five years and I’ve lost count of the number of times a customer described him as “the gay one”.

He introduced himself to me by pointing out a young man as cute then watching to see my reaction. Several months went by with him being quite openly gay then he announced he’d met a girl for dinner. Once again he watched for reactions; this time he seemed quite shocked that people had trouble believing he’d invited a girl for a date. Later he told me he didn’t know why people were spreading rumours that he was gay. I found myself unable to think of anything to say. Within days he’d reverted back to being openly gay again.

I talked to Tim from time to time about Jeremy and why I wondered if zie was gay or bisexual. At one point I told him about how Jeremy had asked me, in grade one, if it was all right for zir to marry Albert when zie grew up. Tim’s face grew wistful. He’d made a similar comment when he was that age and one of his older brothers told him never to make a comment like that again or he’d be beaten up. I began to understand his flip-flopping.

Over the next few years he did a few more flip-flops regarding his sexual orientation. I tried my hardest to be supportive and I’m sure his other friends did as well. He slowly became more positive about being gay and joined PFLAG. Several years in a row he invited me to attend our local Evening of Hope; an event similar to the Transgender Day of Remembrance but for the whole LGBTQ community (the Trans Day of Remembrance is also observed). I made sure to attend. One year his mother called during the whole service. Candles were being named then lit and carried across the stage in front of a hushed audience. Meanwhile his phone kept ringing and ringing.

Mom, this is serious. I can’t talk right now.”
This is a memorial service.”
No I can’t leave.”
“Mom, please, you have to stop calling.”
I helped organize this. I’m needed here. I really can’t leave.”

Her son was working alongside the mayor and the police to help organize a huge event with dozens of vendors and approximately a hundred people. He hurried around, well respected and busy, taking donations, directing people to the right places, and organizing the set up. And instead of being there to support him, she was sitting at home harassing him to leave. I wouldn’t know this lady if I ran into her on the street but there’s a good chance I wouldn’t like her.

I watched as he matured into his early 20’s. He wanted to be an event planner and organize weddings. I listened as he fell in love and again when they broke up. Tim didn’t want to be a secret, he wanted a boyfriend who was willing to be out with him. Then he started looking for a new religion because the Catholic Church wasn’t supportive enough. He wanted a place that would accept him as gay. I suggested my own congregation of Unitarian Universalists and got a “maybe…” in response. I get that. I’m an atheist and he’s deeply religious; I’ve had a few friends assume that the whole congregation must be atheistic if I’m there. It’s not but I backed off, figuring he needed to find his own path. Unitarians are good at that. Maybe too good.

He continued to help with PFLAG and received an award for being a person who made a difference. His posts reflected the love he had for his family and a growing acceptance of himself. Then his posts faded, he was busy at work but fine. He couldn’t attend my parties due to work but was fine and we’d get together soon. The posts he did make were less about family and more about God. And then came this post…

Tim mormon

He deleted it almost immediately but a quick peek at his about page showed his religion as Mormon and his “interested in” section set to women. There aren’t many churches out there who are less accepting of LGBTQ people than the Catholic Church but the Mormons are definitely one of them.

There is no way this can end well. He’s not straight. He’s not even (from what he’s said during quiet, honest times) bisexual. And he’s joined a church that only loves him if he lies and only accepts him if he ignores his own romantic feelings.

I understand why people turn to religion. They look for acceptance, community, support, and (for some) a greater meaning to life. At it’s best, religion can serve these needs. What worries me is when religion is at it’s worst. It’s worst leaves people shattered and broken… clutching the fragments of their lives as they watch their community turn away. It leaves LGBTQ kids on the streets, begging and selling themselves to survive. Or walking in front of trucks convinced life will never get better. It teaches children that they are the chosen ones and the “others” are the sinners. Giving them a sense of pride for being chosen and a sense of fear that they might stumble and become one of the “others”.

Get a group of atheist parents together and you’ll hear a variety of stories about their children being harassed by other kids for not believing in God. Emma used to get chased off the bus by a girl who insisted she was going to burn in hell forever. A mother I talked to recently has a child who was having nightmares about Jesus coming to get him like some sort of bogeyman. Once again it was from peer bullying.

Years ago, our congregation welcomed an older man who had left a fundamentalist church. Every Sunday, for weeks on end, he’d come to the front of the room for  the pebbles of joy and concern ceremony and cry. He could barely choke out any words, he’d simply break down in heart wrenching tears. His former church had left huge scars on his soul. It took nearly a year before he could manage to speak. He was white, straight, and cis… with a good job, children, and a wife who loved him… and his scars nearly broke him regardless. He didn’t entirely fit into their mould so they tried to hammer him in place. They damn well shattered him.

Love isn’t trademarked, it just is, and it’s there for everyone; not just the ones religion deems worthy enough. Life is not a tragedy, love is not a mistake, and if your religion loves all the little children (except if they have a penis and are wearing a dress) then you’re doing it wrong.

On life skills and showing off Jeremy…

My ex-husband called me last week, wanting to know what I’m doing to socialize Jeremy. Aren’t I worried about him?

I definitely needed to pause before I spoke. This is a man who considers a two hour visit “long”. He offered to bring his girlfriend to Jeremy’s track and field meet at the end of grade six then had to message me to ask the name of Jeremy’s school. Zie’d been attending there since the beginning of grade two. Involved is not a word anyone uses to describe him.

“Yes, I definitely worry about Jeremy,” I began. “Zie belongs to our church’s youth group-”

“That’s exactly what I want him to do,” my ex interrupted. “My church has a youth group that meets once a week. It’s sports themed and I’d really like him to join.”

Sports? The only sport Jeremy’s played in zir entire life was soccer and that’s because a) zie loved the silky shorts and b) because the coaches wouldn’t allow bullying on the field. Zie “played soccer” for three years… where played translates to “stood motionlessly in the middle of the field”. Ironically, zir Dad only attended one soccer game and that was to show Jeremy off to a different girlfriend.

My ex was agnostic while we were together and has since joined the Mormon church. He celebrated his baptism with a cigarette, a joint, and a beer, which speaks volumes about his commitment to the church’s values. The church is committed to him though and, in return, he wants to show off the one remaining child who’ll speak to him. His trans, not-straight child… and we all know the Mormon church’s stance on LGBTQ issues.

“Jeremy’s not into sports,” I replied, which might be the understatement of the year.

“It doesn’t matter if he likes sports,” ex retorted. “It’s a chance for him to get together with other kids.”

Jeremy’s Dad hadn’t been into sports either when we were married. He liked baseball well enough and would watch hockey if the game was on but that was it. His real interests were Dungeons and Dragons, computer adventure games, and role-playing card games like Magic the Gathering. Maybe I could pique some mutual interests?

“Is there something else you can do with Jeremy? Zie loves cards, like Pokemon and Magic. And playing with RC cars and zie would enjoy learning D&D-”

“No, the youth group is good,” he said flatly. “Besides, what are you doing to socialize him?

Not that I hadn’t tried to tell him once already. I stifled a sigh and tried again. “Jeremy belongs to our church’s youth group. They meet twice a month and are going bowling in a couple more weeks. Zie also goes to PFLAG with m-”

“What’s PFLAG?”

What rock was he hiding under? And why couldn’t he stay there instead of bugging me?

“PFLAG stands for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays but it’s for anyone in the LGBTQ community. It meets once a month and has a youth group. There’s a young adult group too and Jeremy’s going to it this Thursday.”

The young adult group turned out to be a disaster. Jeremy’s mad at them because they discriminate against straight white men. Between Lenny and I, that comment triggered an eye roll that spanned the Atlantic Ocean and half a continent.

“It’s supposed to be a safe space for everyone,” Jeremy yelled. “How can they call it safe when they make fun of straight white men all the time? Besides, how are we supposed to get straight, white men to like us if we’re mean to them?”

“Honey, it’s not your job to get them to like you.” I paused, trying to think of an example that was relevant and would resonant with zir.

“It’s like black Americans and the police. The majority of the police aren’t against black people but it’s not black people’s responsibility to make the police like them. It’s the police’s responsibility to tell their peers to be more respectful and to go after the ones who are horribly racist. The majority has to stand up against the unethical minority.”

“I still don’t think it’s fair,” zie retorted stubbornly. “If it’s a safe place, it should be safe for everyone.”

“Is this because you identify as a straight, white male?” I questioned.

I have never seen anyone look more frankly horrified in my life.

“Or maybe others see you as one?” I guessed. There had to be a reason zie felt so strongly.

Zir horror turned to shocked bewilderment. “No one ever sees me as straight,” Jeremy protested, tossing back zir hair for emphasis. As far as I know everyone thinks I’m gay.” Zie paused for a minute. “I’m not sure if they see me as male either,” zie mused.

Jeremy met up with zir Dad at our local library and I asked how the meeting went when I got home from work that evening.

It was Jeremy’s turn to roll zir eyes. “Dad wants me to join his church’s youth group so I can learn life skills. He says he’s worried about what I’m going to do once you’re 70 years old if I don’t learn these life skills now.”

Because praying over table tennis is going to teach zir how to balance a bank book.

Lenny pointed out that I’ve already taught zir how to grocery shop, pay bills, do chores and cook simple meals; all of which are more important than a youth group.

I can’t help but wonder if my ex is thinking of what inviting Jeremy to the group would really be like. You know, when Jeremy shows up in zir favourite silky blue shirt and best perfume?

I also can’t help but wonder what this Thursday’s PFLAG meeting’s going to be like after Jeremy’s steadfast protection of straight, white men.