It all depends on the company…

We live near a large bowling alley. It’s theoretically within walking distance, although we have yet to walk there.

The bowling alley is also near Jeremy’s school and his teacher arranges a field trip there every single month. Every single month since September, Jeremy has *accidentally* forgotten his permission form as well as conveniently forgotten to tell me about the upcoming trip… until the day before. That’s when he asks if he can stay home because it’s too late to go on the trip. He doesn’t like bowling, he doesn’t want to go. It’s going to be boring.

Jeremy came home from his LGBTQ youth group on Tuesday night and happily informed me they’re going to the bowling alley next week.

“I’m going to ride my bike there so I won’t even need to take the bus,” he said. His expression told me he couldn’t wait.

So, apparently it’s not the bowling alley that’s boring. I’m not sure how to handle this, although right now I’m leaning toward simply saying nothing.

And here’s an update on Grayson Bruce, directly off his family run Support for Grayson Facebook page (it’s a public link, I’m not sharing private information):

“Today I met with Dr. Tony Baldwin, Superintendent of the Buncombe County Schools and David Thompson, Director of Student Services. We had a real heart-to-heart talk. I strongly feel we can work together to make things better for Grayson and all the students in our school system.

We are working with Mr. Thompson to help organize a Parent Advisory Council on Bullying. We will partner with them to make sure that every child feels safe and comfortable at school. After our talk this morning I’m confident that we can make strides in that area.

We appreciate all of your support from the bottom of our hearts! The outpouring of love from everyone has been unbelievable and has given us the opportunity to shine a light on the different kinds of hurts kids experience at school.

We are considering all options for getting Grayson back in school. We are pleased the school system is working closely with us. All of the options include Grayson taking his “My Little Pony” bag to school.”

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What on earth were they thinking?

Grayson Bruce and his mother

The picture links to an article. I’m pretty much speechless that they told a 9-year-old not to bring a backpack to school because it was a “trigger for bullying” although I’m not that surprised they subsequently released the statement “an initial step was taken to immediately address a situation that had created a disruption in the classroom.  Buncombe County Schools takes bullying very seriously, and we will continue to take steps to resolve this issue.”

Too bad their “initial step” was to go after the 9 year old and ignore the bullying. Sigh… nothing like blaming the victim. You can read a longer article about this here.

And an update on the 11 year old who tried to hang himself. He’s awake!

I love our church…

That might sound a bit odd, especially since I’m an atheist and have been since my mid-teens, but it’s true. We go to a local Unitarian Universalist congregation and have since Emma and Jeremy were quite small. For the link shy, the church doesn’t follow a religious book, instead it follows the seven principles (which are listed in the previous link). Quite a bit of our congregation consider themselves atheist, agnostic, free thinking, or pagan. We also belong to a welcoming congregation, which is exactly what it sounds like.

Jeremy doesn’t go to church very often these days. He still goes to the Youth Group but there’s an awkward age gap. He’s the oldest youth by about four years and the next oldest boy is 10 years old; basically there’s no one to hang out with. But yesterday he came to church with me.

As we were heading out the door to go home, the Religious Education teacher asked Jeremy if he was helping out at the Spaghetti Dinner and Auction next month, a yearly fundraiser. This year the youths are putting on a murder mystery. Jeremy said sure and was offered his choice of two parts.

The first character is an associate of the auction house owner and is at the auction house on a regular basis. She’s motivated, outgoing, and never shy. The second character is a wealthy collector. He frequents the auction house regularly and always comes away with a good deal. He’s shy, eccentric, and often considered weird.

Jeremy listened intently to both descriptions then looked over to me.

“Mom? I don’t know what to do. I like both characters and I think she’s more like me… other than being a girl. I just don’t know…”

He looked back to the scripts. The RE teacher waited patiently. She’s known Jeremy for years, long enough to know offering him a choice between both genders might be a good idea.

I shrugged. “It doesn’t really matter, just pick the one you like.”

I wasn’t feeling nearly as patient as his teacher. Our ride was waiting in the parking lot for us. I hoped I looked patient at least.

“Okay,” he replied. “I’ll pick the girl.”

The RE teacher smiled. “And hello Sherry Wayburn,” she said as she handed him the information.

Now we’ve got two weeks to sort out an outfit for him. I’m sure whatever outfit he picks will look fabulous.

The popular songs…

“Jeremy, you should have a shower before you get dressed.”

Jeremy looked over at me then sighed. “Fine, I guess,” he muttered then he grabbed his portable radio/CD player off the desk.

“What’s that for?” I asked and he rolled his eyes.

“Mom, I need music while I’m in the shower,” he replied then he headed off.

He was back less than five minutes later; bone dry, still in pjs, and obviously irritated.

“Every song on the radio these days is some guy wanting to have sex with some girl and I don’t want to hear it.”

I nodded. “So, what are you going to do?” I asked cautiously. Jeremy’s temper’s been uncertain lately.

“I’m going to listen to my MP3 player,” he announced. He grabbed it off the counter and stomped back toward the bathroom.

A minute later, video game songs blared then Jeremy returned after a while, combing his sopping wet hair.

“You know what I don’t get? Those songs, all the guys just want sex and all the girls just want money.”

“It doesn’t sound like much of a relationship,” I agreed. He nodded.

“It sounds more like prostitution. He’s paying her and she’s giving him sex.”

At least he’s thinking.

And now we’re off to try out the local Japanese restaurant. Miso soup and hot and sour soup are waiting…

Emma’s stand…

I read an article via the Raising my Rainbow Facebook page, titled This Gay 12-Year-Old Reveals Challenges for LGBT Youth In America. I read about his issues with an overnight school trip and immediately thought of Emma.

Back when Emma was in grade eight (which is the last year of elementary school where we live) her teachers and principal decided to have a school sleepover for the senior students. It was going to be a fun and exciting camp out in the gym. The kids would bring sleeping bags and mattresses, eat camp food, and listen to ghost stories.

Emma was wildly unpopular in grade school. Of course, being unpopular meant she missed the school yard gossip, including the latest information on the school bus. I’d pulled her off that bus and was sending her to school via the city bus, it gave both of us some peace of mind. But that also meant that when Emma’s classmate got outed as bisexual on the way to school, Emma was the last to know.

Emma’s classmate had confided in a friend she thought she could trust. Instead that friend yelled her new-found knowledge across the crowded school bus. This information spread through the school yard, the whole senior class knew within minutes of the buses arrival.

Emma’s city bus got her to the yard about ten minutes after everyone else arrived. By then the other girls were pointedly ignoring the classmate while loudly explaining why they wouldn’t sleep anywhere near her. Emma listened for a moment, just long enough to sort out what happened then marched over.

“Ignore them,” she told the classmate firmly. “You can put your sleeping bag next to mine.”

She told me this story almost as soon as she walked in the door from school. Horror and disgust radiated from her.

“Being gay or bisexual isn’t contagious. I don’t know why they’re acting like it is.”

The classmate got grounded shortly before the school sleepover and didn’t end up going. I’d like to think her mother realized how awkward the sleepover was going to be and simply kept her home but the reality was this classmate got grounded regularly. Emma and the classmate stayed friends while the girl lived in our complex, which wasn’t long; she moved before the end of the school year. And they had several sleepovers.

The blame game…

Jeremy didn’t put on socks when his sister and her boyfriend came over for their visit. Which was fine, except he was wearing bright red nail polish on his toes.

That was fine too, except when his sister mentioned he had polish on, his immediate response was…

“Mom made me wear it. She forced me to put it on.”

I pulled him aside and reminded him he’s a foot taller than me. I can’t force him to put on nail polish. He smiled sheepishly and apologized.

Then came his counseling appointment on Thursday. The counselor had me come in so we could sort out a few issues and figure out what goals we were all working toward. Then she mentioned Jeremy had something important to tell me.

“Your son wants you to know he’s straight. Completely, 100% straight.”

Jeremy nodded. “I’ve been trying to tell you this but you won’t listen to me and you keep bringing it up.”

I stared at him in astonishment then assured him I do listen but it’s hard when he keeps telling me different things. He glared.

“You put words in my mouth. I never said any of those things, you did.”

I was quiet for the rest of the session, mostly because I was furious.

“Fine, you’re straight,” I snapped once we got outside. “I won’t mention anything to do with sexual orientation again. But first I want a couple of answers. Why did you tell me you weren’t out anywhere?”

“Because I’m not,” he replied. “I don’t need to be out because I’m straight.”

“And when you told me you were bisexual? That wasn’t me putting words into your mouth.”

“I don’t know,” Jeremy wailed. “You keep saying I’m gay and I don’t know who I’m interested in.”

I restrained myself from hitting my head on the bus shelter wall, mostly because I ran out of pain medication and that would hurt.

“Jeremy, I have never said you were gay. I said you might be straight or bisexual, because those are the labels you mentioned, but I never once claimed you were anything else. And I’ve been after you for ages not to pin a label on yourself if you don’t know who you’re interested in. That if you feel you have to label yourself to stick with something like questioning for now.”

“Oh,” he said quietly.

“And can you please stop blaming me,” I added.

He nodded then he pulled on his headphones and proceeded to ignore me the rest of the way home.

So that’s where we are right now. Jeremy’s straight, well as straight as someone who has no idea who they’re interested in can get. And I’m scared to say anything in case it’s misconstrued. Fun times.