Insomnia…

Once again Jeremy did not sleep last night and he slept for four hours the night before last. I’d have fallen over unconscious by now if that were me (or curled in a ball somewhere with a raging headache), meanwhile Jeremy’s having a bath with my peony rose bath salts and some Deadmau5. Hopefully the bath will help him sleep and the music won’t wake him too much.

It’s weird, he was the kid who slept easily and well. I can remember finding him crawling up the stairs one night, awkwardly dragging along his stuffed bunny.

“Where are you going sweetie?” I asked. He was still young enough to worry about him coming back down on his own.

“Bye bye,” he replied, complete with a tiny wave. “Beh.” The latter translates to “bed”.

And he continued his trek upstairs, or at least attempted to because I ended up scooping him up and tucking him in.

I guess all those missed opportunities to watch the sun rising to the east, almost as red as Mommy’s eyes, have finally caught up to him. I go to bed before him but he still manages to trip over the air in front of my bedroom door at least once a night. And I definitely woke when he came in at 3am to say his thoughts were racing too much for him to sleep. He’s since told me he was thinking about horror movies. I told him to find something more peaceful to watch tonight and threatened to dig out his old childhood favourite, “The Pokey Little Puppy’s book of Colours”. I even started to recite it from memory (I might have read it once or twice or five thousand times over the years). Judging by his reaction, it might be worth digging out as an incentive for him to go to bed. He’d probably do just about anything to stop me from reading it.

We went grocery shopping this afternoon after I got home from work. By that time I figured he’d been awake for thirty hours. I was trying to think of food I could cook while half asleep; Jeremy chattered non-stop about why video games need to have 60 frames a second instead of 30 frames and how they should be fixed… and how Nintendo’s better than Sony… and my train of thought derailed about there. I really don’t get how he can be so awake with that little sleep.

Pretend I’ve got an amazing conclusion for this post because I’m way too tired to come up with one. Also, hopefully Jeremy will sleep tonight. Going by his energy levels, he’d probably be fine, but I don’t think I could manage him being up for another night.

Jeremy’s counselling appointment…

I dragged Emma to Jeremy’s counselling appointment yesterday, promising we just needed to sign him in then I’d take her to Tim Hortons for a treat and some one on one conversation. What I forgot was I’d requested a group chat at the beginning of his session.

Jeremy had his dentist appointment right before his last session and hadn’t been able to tell me if his teeth hurt or not. This was on top of not being able to tell me what clothes he wanted or if he liked his hair cut. His counselor suggested I come in for a bit at the next session to discuss my concerns.

Once again her main suggestion was that it might have something to do with autism. Otherwise all she could come up with was that maybe I do too much for him considering I’m the one who calls in his appointments from the waiting room. I’d called in because he doesn’t like the phone but told him he could be the one to dial next time. He shrugged and said he didn’t care either way.

I figured Jeremy might need someone to talk to while Amy’s down for her visit so let his counselor know, commenting that Amy had made some fairly transphobic comments on my Facebook page which had bothered Jeremy. He nodded in agreement while the counselor stared at both of us with total bewilderment.

“Why would this bother Jeremy? Is Amy transgender?”

Meanwhile I looked back with equal bewilderment. If Amy was trans, why would she be making transphobic comments on my page?

“No, she’s not,” I replied then looked at Jeremy and asked, “Can I tell her?” He nodded. “Jeremy identifies as gender nonconforming.”

The counselor’s bewilderment increased. “I don’t know what that means,” she replied. “I’ve never heard of it.”

I thought about her comment about me doing too much for Jeremy then turned and looked at him expectantly. “You explain,” I urged and then waited nervously. Part of Jeremy’s learning disabilities include processing issues. He understands a lot more than he can say and being nervous makes his ability to explain even worse. But he also needs to be able to explain for himself.

“It means I don’t exactly fit in as male or female,” he explained. “Right now I feel mostly male with a little female.”

“But you know you’re a boy right?” she asked. “You look like a boy and you know you are one. Right?”

I cringed. She might as well have picked up a sheet titled “What not to Say” and read off it.

“Well, yeah…” Jeremy said hesitantly. “Mostly…”

“I mean you’re happy with your body right?” she continued with a vague downward moving hand gesture.

“I haven’t noticed any real signs of gender dysphoria,” I interrupted. Her gaze sharpened and she looked excited.

“Ooo, you know all the lingo,” she blurted. “You didn’t do all that research just for Jeremy did you?”

The last part was incredulous. What on earth was I supposed to say? I tried not to look over at Jeremy, who probably already felt uncomfortable.

“Well, my best friend identifies as trans,” I replied. Which wasn’t why I’d done most of my reading but that wasn’t any of the counselor’s business.

She looked even more excited. “You sound very knowledgeable. So what does queer mean and why do people use it? I thought it was a slur but someone told me it’s the Q in LGBTQ.”

Oh good grief.

I took a quick peek at the clock. I’d promised Emma I’d only be a minute and we’d already been at least fifteen. And how the hell do I get into conversations like this anyways?

“Umm… it’s kind of an umbrella term people use to describe themselves if they don’t identify as straight or strictly male or female.” I wasn’t going to bring up cisgender, not if I wanted to get back into the waiting room any time soon. “People use it in order to reclaim the word but it’s a word they use to self-identify with, not one you call someone.”

I quickly changed the subject to Jeremy’s school before she could ask me any more questions, then cringed once again when I saw the clock. Poor Emma. A half hour sitting alone in a waiting room filled with grumpy adults and three year old Chatelaine magazines is not how any teen wants to spend time, especially not on a sunny, summer’s afternoon. By the time we walked upstairs and bought our food, we had five minutes alone before Jeremy came out to meet us.

Jeremy adores his counselor and other professionals speek well of her so I figure she’s not usually this tactless. I’m guessing, however, she won’t be much help with sorting out his gender identity.

The best birthday present ever…

Aka, I love my parents 🙂

I should know my Mom by now. I get my complete inability to handle surprise situations from her. She tends to get upset and lashes out when faced with an unfamiliar situation, only to be totally fine later on.

This morning (once we buried poor Bean) we headed off to our favourite Thai restaurant for lunch with Emma. Then, following Jeremy’s counseling appointment, we headed over to my parents’ house. Emma and Jeremy went immediately upstairs to work on Jeremy’s hair. I wandered up a little while later and knocked on the door.

“Can I come in?” I asked.

“Sure. You’re good,” Emma replied.

I stepped inside and Jeremy spun to face me. He was wearing a navy blue sleeveless dress and his hair was pulled back from his face with black barrettes.

“You look very pretty,” I commented before giving him a quick hug.

“Thanks,” he replied with a smile. He spun back to the mirror and his smile grew more uncertain. “I don’t know why I look so good in women’s clothes.”

“C’mon,” Emma urged. “Let’s go put on some makeup.”

Emma loved dressing Jeremy up and trying different styles of makeup on him when they were little. This faded over the years; when I look back it was around the same time she grew more frustrated with him. I had a heartfelt talk with her a few weeks ago and she tearfully told me she’d been being hard on Jeremy because she was scared of him getting bullied. She hadn’t realized how much her behaviour was hurting him.

I headed back downstairs to chat with my parents and came back up a half hour later to tell them it was dinner time. Jeremy had changed out of Emma’s dress but his shirt was sweaty so Emma had given him a tank top to wear along with a sports bra. He quickly covered them up with a plaid shirt and went to scrub his face. Most of the makeup washed away but he went downstairs wearing his sister’s shirt, mascara, and black barrettes.

My parents said nothing about his appearance. They laughed and joked with him like usual while Jeremy tried to pass his quietness off as being tired. He picked at his meal. Then came dessert. My Mom usually makes angel food cake for birthdays but there’s no way to make that vegan, so she had ice cream, sorbet, and fruit salad. Jeremy got himself a big bowl of ice cream then my Dad snuck it.

“Granddad,” Jeremy laughed. “That’s mine, give it back!”

My Dad laughed as well, wrapping his arms around the bowl. “No, it’s mine,” he insisted.

Jeremy made a feign then grabbed the bowl back and the ice was broken. Once his bowl was empty, he turned to Emma.

“Can we go back upstairs now to do my hair?” he asked. And off they went.

I was showing my parents how to download pictures from Facebook when Jeremy and Emma came downstairs. Emma had made two small braids at the front of his hair and something called a fish tail on the back.

My parents looked over.

“Your hair looks nice,” my Mom said warmly and my Dad nodded agreement. Then both kids went outside.

Nothing was said about the purple metallic nail polish on Jeremy’s toes or the pinkish-beige polish on his fingers. It was, hands down, the best birthday present ever.

One of my regrets from when Jeremy and Emma were younger was I never took pictures of Jeremy dressed in anything but boys’ clothing. I was so worried about embarrassing him when he grew up with silly pictures of his childhood; it never dawned on me that he might want them or how he’d feel about his photo-happy mother never taking those photos. Today I took a tonne.

(((hugs))) Jeremy a bit tighter…

I really don’t understand people sometimes. I just don’t…

LGBTQ Youths with Unsupportive Parents Sound Off Anonymously with Whisper App

And… it’s my 44th birthday. First thing that happened was I went to feed the guinea pigs and found our smallest and shy one dead on the cage. They’d just turned six years old. So we’re off to bury little Bean before lunch.

Plus side is it’s not like the day can get much worse… it’s got to be uphill and sunshine from now on. At least once the poor little piggy’s buried.

Happy birthday to me…

It’s my 44th birthday tomorrow and I had my party yesterday, which a whopping three people were able to attend. Ironically enough, two could only stay for an hour then they left and an hour later the third guest arrived, so I had my party in shifts.

P couldn’t attend as his husband M was working and he’s too shy to come on his own, but he sang happy birthday to me on the phone and promised we’d all get together soon. Emma’s at her boyfriend’s family cottage for the weekend but she booked my actual birthday off and is taking me out to our favourite Thai restaurant for lunch. And two more friends are taking me out for dinner on Thursday.

I was my usual scatterbrained self although, like usual, I went into the preparations with the best of intentions. I even made a list of chores just so we’d be organized. I was determined I would have all the veggies chopped for the tempura and start frying it by 4:30pm so I’d be ready for guests to arrive by five.

The morning started off quite relaxed. We both took turns eating breakfast and showering then I leisurely washed the dishes while Jeremy cleared all his electronic bits and pieces off the table, couch, floor, computer desk, and chair. Then he cleaned the guinea pig cage while I gave the piggies a bath and trimmed their nails. Okay, that part wasn’t relaxing for the piggies but they smelled a lot better.

By then we were both starving and took the time to eat at our newly cleaned table.

“You’re so pretty,” I blurted after watching Jeremy for a while.

“Not handsome?” he asked, looking at me quizzically.

“Handsome too,” I agreed. “Would you rather be called handsome?”

He shrugged then said, “Not really.”

“What would you rather be called?” I asked. He shrugged again. “How about fabulous?” I suggested.

Jeremy snorted. “Like that would even work,” he said with all the scorn a seventeen year old could muster.

“You look fabulous,” I pointed out. I could tell by his expression he knew I was right.

“Yeah, I guess…” he murmured. “How about good?”

“Okay,” I agreed. “You look good.”

We cleared off the table and went back to our chore list. I was still confident we’d be more than ready in time. I could see my table all set; a scattering of glitter sprinkled across, my rattan lights softly glowing, my cake all covered in the candles we’d bought yesterday (I’d been aiming for mini sparkler candles but Jeremy fell in love with the rainbow candles with coloured flames instead), and my snazzy paper straws.

Four thirty found me yelling at Jeremy, “What do you mean you used all the vinegar when you cleaned the guinea pig cage? What am I going to mop the floors with?”

He looked at the empty bottle and shrugged. “We’ve got red wine vinegar under the cupboard. Would that work?”

I pictured the apartment smelling like the dumpster behind a bar then realized it was moot, there was no way I could sweep and mop before five o’clock and I still hadn’t made the frosting for the cake, let alone decorated it… and hadn’t even started chopping the veggies that I was supposed to be cooking right this minute.

“Are you okay Mom?”

“Not last time I checked,” I replied. “Can you sweep?”

He made a valiant attempt while I got the frosting ingredients out. Then I pulled the cake out of the freezer and sighed. I’d already had to dump the centre of both layers because they were gooey (vegan here… I didn’t poison anyone with raw egg goop) but they’d sunk even more. I put a bunch of frosting in the centre, hoping to fill it out a bit then started spreading frosting over the top. Crumbs started rolling everywhere but at least I was coating the whole cake in Oreo crumbs so they wouldn’t show up. That was when I realized a cake covered in baking crumbs looks like it got dropped into the dirt then dusted off and stuck on a plate. Hopefully it would taste good.

Jeremy was quiet when my first two guests were here. He said “hi” then went right back to the computer and his game. Then my third guest arrived and he turned into a model host. He insisted on giving her a tour of the whole apartment, introduced her to all the cats, and showed off his electronics. She’s a new employee, he’s never met her before, but somehow they just clicked. He got out a charger so she could charge her phone then showed her some features. At one point in the evening he made a huge derp face.

“I’m so handsome,” he joked.

“I thought you were good,” I quipped. He looked at me like I’d completely lost my mind.

“No, I’m handsome,” he said patiently.

Alrighty then. He’s handsome in public and good in private… at least until everything changes again with no warning.

The evening moved on to sharing different songs. It turned out we all love Penatonix. We listened to a couple of their songs then my coworker had a song to share where everyone took turns playing the same guitars. I shared a version of Royals sung a capella by a teen using a cup for percussion. Then Jeremy plugged his speakers into his netbook.

“I have a song,” he announced. He could barely hold back his grin. That grin just screamed mischief.

“Let me guess, Diggy, Diggy Hole,” I said drily. “It’s a Minecraft song,” I added before I sang a bit of the chorus. I only needed to sing a bit, the song is very repetitive. Jeremy’s grin grew wider.

“I bet it is,” she agreed. “He’s got a suspicious look.” Jeremy giggled.

A few soft piano notes… this definitely wasn’t Diggy, Diggy Hole. Jeremy had put on Same Love.

He started playing Same Love about a week ago, ostensibly for me. I like the song but I’ve never hunted it out (other than when it first came out and I showed it to both the kids) and don’t have it saved on my computer. Jeremy has it saved on his though and plays it several times a day.

My coworker started singing along and Jeremy switched from an “it’s just a joke” grin to a genuine smile.

It was a great day.

My Oreo cake

He’s a boy?

It was a busy and crowded day at work. I finally got on my first bus home and realized I’d missed a phone call from Emma; she’d called almost an hour earlier. There was no message. I’d planned on spending the first bus ride unwinding while scrolling idly through Facebook but really wanted to know why Emma had called. We ended up spending the whole trip chatting.

I got onto my next bus and figured that would be my unwinding time. I had my finger on the Facebook icon when a little kid plunked down beside me. Little kids like me when I’m on my way home from work. I probably smell like doughnuts.

The mother had three kids, multiple snacks, and a big stroller to navigate. She handled all of them well. The kid beside me had longish hair in a girl’s cut and a girl’s name but everything else screamed boy… from the large Spiderman action figure, clothes directly from the boy’s department, and dark blue and red Spiderman sandals. She bounced and fidgeted in her seat, flipping Spiderman around the seat-rest of the empty seat ahead of her then through the air, only pausing long enough to hold four fingers in the air when I asked her age.

“I have a Spiderman mask,” she commented. “I forgot it at home.”

I grabbed her arm as she swooped her toy a bit more enthusiastically and nearly tumbled out of the seat.

“My little boy wore a Spiderman costume one year,” I said idly, once she was upright again. “But he’s not very little anymore.”

I debated on showing her his photo. In one way it felt a bit like opening a can of worms and besides, little kids aren’t usually interested in looking at photos of a stranger’s kid. I threw caution to the wind and swiped my phone back on anyway.

“This is my boy,” I said as I flipped to Jeremy’s picture.

“He’s a boy?” she blurted. “He looks like a girl.” I’ve never seen anyone’s eyes get that wide before.

“Yes,” I replied. “He does look like a girl but he likes being called he.”

“He really looks like a girl though,” she said in amazement. She moved her head a bit closer and stared, absolutely entranced. “He looks like a girl.”

“Yes, he does,” I repeated. “Sometimes boys can look like girls and sometimes girls can look like boys.” I figured that was fairly safe to say.

“He got a purple cake,” she said, her eyes still glued to the screen. She’d been sitting almost motionless for about a minute by then. I had a feeling this might have the quietest she’d been all day, apart from sleeping. I flipped to another photo and showed her how his candle opened up and spun.

“He looks like a girl,” she said once more. That was when I showed her Mom Jeremy’s picture as well, figuring “the boy who looks like a girl” might feature prominently in the conversation once they were off the bus. Mom deserved to know what the heck she was talking about.

I turned the phone back to the kid while the Mom and I talked about long hair on boys. How her toddler’s hair had such cute ringlets but he didn’t like them lying hot and sticky on his neck.

Then it was their stop.

“Say goodbye to the nice lady,” her mother prompted. The kid turned and waved, her hand opening and closing into a fist, Spiderman clutched in her other hand, sailing through the air beside her. And then they were gone.

Boys will be boys…

This video by Laurie Petrou showed up on my Facebook newsfeed yesterday and I felt it was definitely worth sharing:

She also has a very interesting page on gender stereotypes that changes every time you open it, titled Do we see the world through a gender binary?

For the record, Jeremy’s nickname was Sweetie when he was little. He had his own baby named Kip which he wheeled around in a little pink stroller… when he wasn’t driving dinky cars along the floor (while telling them to be careful and not get hurt). Emma’s nickname was Sunshine. She loved to catch bugs, roll down hills, and play with her baby Lisa.

It’s a boy! It’s a girl!

I got asked a question on Twitter yesterday…

“Why do pple get excited learning the sex of their baby? Would they not be as happy if results were different?”

I tried my best to answer the question on Twitter but 140 characters just wasn’t enough space (even 280 didn’t cut it) so I’m writing my answer here.

I remember being pregnant; that sense of unreality when two little lines appeared on a white plastic stick. I didn’t look any different or feel any different, it was hard to believe I would be a mother in less than a year. Well, unless I miscarried (which I did twice). The weeks crept on, I got a bit queasy and the waist of my pants grew a bit snug but that was it.

You often can’t feel the baby kick until almost halfway through the pregnancy and even then, it feels like a bit of gas or a twitchy muscle for several weeks after that. Around that time came the ultrasound; it was a window to the other side of my normal looking, albeit rounder, stomach. A chance to finally get a glimpse of the stranger everyone assured me that I’d love more than life itself.

Being pregnant was like being told I’d soon have a roommate… for the next 18+ years. Except there would be no interviews, no background checks, and no references. I had no idea what this person was going to be like (other than messy and very dependent). No one could tell me what the baby would look like other than having four limbs, all their digits, eyes, a nose, and a heart that looked fine. They couldn’t tell me if the baby would enjoy music, be quiet or outgoing, be fascinated with bugs or books, or serve a mean invisible tea from plastic cups. They could, however, tell me the sex… possibly… if the baby’s legs weren’t crossed. I took it, at least that was something tangible in a vast sea of nothing. Plus it would let me know if we needed to keep arguing over boy’s names (both sides of the family have horrible names for boys). Emma had her legs crossed. Jeremy didn’t.

And then there’s the more practical issues. I went to buy a newborn outfit three years ago. The parents thought the baby might be a girl but the ultrasound wasn’t clear so I figured I’d get something fairly neutral. There wasn’t anything. Every single piece of clothing in the baby’s department was either pink with flowers and butterflies or blue with sports and nautical themes. I ended up picking the least frilly pink clothes in the department and added a receipt. The baby was a girl (well so far at least) so luckily the outfit was fine. Babies need clothes desperately. They vomit copious amounts of milk all over themselves and everyone around them. They’ll crap so hard it ends up between their toes and through the back of their hair (and I really wish I was exaggerating). The sooner you know what’s between their legs, the sooner you can amass a supply of clothes.

And every. single. person asks, “so, do you know what you’re having?” as soon as it’s obvious you’re having a baby and not just consuming lots of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. The answer “a baby” does not satisfy the nosy, although I did find “a baby with blue eyes” confused a fair number of them. Likely the ones who slept through high school science classes.

I guess whether they’re disappointed depends on what each parent was looking for. I was looking for a baby, preferably healthy. Having a boy worried me a little because I’d grown up around girls and didn’t know what to expect, but hearing “it’s a boy” from the ultrasound technician wasn’t a disappointment. Looking down while I was delivering Emma and announcing, “It’s a girl” wasn’t a disappointment either.

I’m sure there are people who are disappointed for various reasons. Maybe they wanted a second boy or girl so their oldest would have a friend. Maybe they wanted one of each. Maybe they had bad experiences with their own sibling and were worried about raising a similar child. Or, more seriously, maybe there’s sex linked health issues in the family and they’re worried about bringing a child into the world who’ll face pain and suffering. But I have a feeling most parents are like me, simply happy to finally have something to know about their baby, something tangible to share with others and plan around.

I’ll wait until tomorrow to talk about stereotypes.

I love this quote…

… and the photo although I wish my camera hadn’t been so crummy. It was a fifty dollar camera I bought at Zellers when my decent camera had a tragic ending (due to a cat leash, a cat, our patio, and a squirrel). Jeremy’s got such an impish expression in the shot but photo editing can only do so much with the contrast. Anyway… enjoy 🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Anger and confusion…

Jeremy’s been careening between both these days. Twice today he’s gotten furious over something inconsequential. Once because I was standing about a foot away from him texting while I waited for him to finish his game and get off the computer. He closed his fists and hammered the keyboard three times before getting up and punching the dining room wall hard enough to knock the kitchen clock off. The clock’s a mirror, it fell on the tile floor and shattered. The second time was when we were trying to figure out what office our management is building near the main front door. Jeremy figured they were going to move the management office downstairs and stop allowing people to pay rent upstairs then he freaked out when I disagreed. Management office currently takes up half a floor while this new office will fit maybe a desk and a couple of chairs when they’re done. Neither of us know what’s really going in there but that didn’t stop him from assuming I wasn’t listening simply because I disagreed.

Then there’s the confusion. He mentioned a few weeks ago that he would wear different clothes if he felt safer but had no idea what they’d be. He still has no idea, he hasn’t been able to point out a single article of clothing in any store we’ve been in or tell me if he’s wanting tops or bottoms… or clothes for summer or fall.

He had his hair cut today and it ended up shorter than I expected. The hairdresser was friendly but picky, she just couldn’t get the sides even enough. Even after she’d put purple mousse in his hair, brought out the mirror to show him the back, and got his approval, she still picked up the scissors and trimmed just a bit more here and there… until she finally cut off at least five centimeters. She originally said no more than half a centimeter.

Jeremy couldn’t tell me if he liked the cut or not. It was okay but he agreed he’d have said the same if she shaved him bald. When I pointed out he needed hair for braids, he wasn’t sure if he wanted braids… but wasn’t sure if he didn’t either. In short he had no idea. This despite the fact he said yesterday that wanted to have his hair up when Amy comes for her visit, saying his only worry was getting beaten up while waiting for the bus.

Then we went to the dentist and I started filling out his form. The first question involved dental pain or discomfort. Jeremy could not tell me if he’d ever noticed his teeth hurting. How the hell do you not know if your own teeth hurt?

I mentioned my concerns to his counselor and she had no idea. Her only thought was maybe his lack of awareness had something to do with autism, but freely admitted she suggested that because she doesn’t know anything about autism.

I find myself struggling. Pushing him for answers and suggesting ideas then asking if they’re okay ends up feeling too close to forcing him to do something (especially since I usually don’t get an enthusiastic response, just a mild okay). But if I don’t do or say anything, he ends up simply sitting all day in his pyjamas, staring at the computer.

There’s been a couple of hopeful signs. He picked out his own water bottle a few days ago without me asking if he wanted one. I pointed out the display of sparkly bottles because I wanted one for myself. Once I picked mine out, he asked if there was a purple one then grabbed it for himself. And last night he asked me to feel his nails. He’d dug out the nail buffer and polished all his nails while watching videos. And he wanted to write that letter to Just Kidding News. It didn’t receive any reply but he wrote it at least.

Jeremy just called me into the kitchen to see the clock. He pieced it all back together then glued it into place, fitting back the clock mechanism and hanging it back on the wall. He promises this isn’t my birthday present, that he’ll do something even better.

Which is great but all I really want for my birthday is for Jeremy to know his own mind.