Jeremy called me into his room after he got home from his LGBTQ youth group last night. He was wearing an old pair of pyjama bottoms while brewing himself some tea. Jeremy tends to make tea when he’s worried. He was brewing himself eight cups; that’s a lot of worry.
“What’s with the pjs?” I asked. They were at least two sizes too small and flannel. He shrugged.
“They’re not that bad,” he replied. “I can sit in them and the front thing’s not too…” His voice trailed off. I looked to the side and noticed his silky pjs neatly folded on his footstool.
“Do these not fit?” I asked. “I can take them back if you don’t like them.”
“No,” he blurted. “They fit. I’m just saving them. You know, for special occasions like if I’m going out somewhere.”
“So, you’re saving cross dressing for when you go out instead of in the comfort of your own home,” I commented drily.
Jeremy laughed then walked over to his wicker shelves. “Tea,” he mused. “I should make lemon or maybe green.” He glanced at the huge pot of water. “Or both.”
Then he turned back. “Mom, can you talk to the teacher about the words?”
Well, he lost me there. “Umm… what words?”
I stared at him blankly. I had no freaking idea what he was talking about. Meanwhile he looked frustrated.
“The words,” he repeated. “When you talk about someone. The words you use.”
Okay we were getting closer to a clue. “You mean pronouns?” I guessed.
“Yes,” he agreed. “Those things. The teacher only uses him and her and it’s making me uncomfortable. Can you write her a letter?” He looked away. “I can’t talk to her.”
“Okay,” I replied. It only took me a few seconds to decide. My first thought was he should speak to her but this was wildly unlike Jeremy. He’s usually very blunt about saying what he feels. He looked back and smiled.
“Can you give me some context?” I asked. “Is she teaching you about pronouns?”
He nodded. “Can you tell her the other pronouns?” He paused then added, “What are the other pronouns?”
It wasn’t like I hadn’t mentioned them before but… “There’s a few pronouns like they-”
“For more than one person,” he interrupted.
“Well usually,” I agreed. “But sometimes if someone doesn’t identify with one gender they’ll use they. Or zie…”
“Trans* people use that,” he said.
“Umm some do,” I agree. He looked at me expectantly and I gave an internal sigh. It was just over a half hour after I was supposed to go to bed. I could squeeze in a lesson on gender.
“Gender’s a spectrum…” I began. He listened intently as I spoke although none of what I said was new; I’d said it all before.
“Why are you wanting her to use more pronouns?” I asked, mainly because I knew the teacher would ask me.
“For the other kids,” he said hastily. “Just because…” His voice trailed off again as if he couldn’t think of a reason.
I wondered if this was Jeremy’s version of “I’m asking for a friend” and kept my mouth shut.
“I’ll write the letter,” I promised. “But it’ll have to be tomorrow because it’s late and I need to go to bed now.”
He held his arms out for a hug.
“Sweet dreams sunshine. Love you,” I said. I gave him a hug and kiss then went to get ready for bed. By the time I finished, he was already in his silky pyjamas.
This is the letter:
Dear Ms. Teacher,
It’s come to my attention that you were teaching pronouns in class, presumably during a language lesson. Jeremy was uncomfortable and wanted me to ask you to use more pronouns such as they and zie. If you wish to discuss this further, please feel free to call me at [phone number] or message me via [email address]. I’m off work at [time].
This is my 100th post on this blog which means, since I’ve only been posting for just under half a year, that I write a lot.