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.

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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 🙂

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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.

Gender Identities in Schools…

I belong to a closed atheist parenting group for mothers of all genders. I posted our letters to Just Kidding News there, which turned out to be a good thing because one of my friends belongs to the same group and she just emailed me a whole whack of information. One of the first links she sent me was this pdf file titled Questions and Answers: Gender Identities in Schools published, no less, by the Public Health Agency of Canada. It contains helpful information such as…

There are a variety of identities and expressions that exist on a continuum between male and female including, cross-dressers e.g., drag queens, drag kings), gender-benders and gender variant, gender non-conforming, and two-spirit individuals. For consistency in this document, we use the term ‘gender variant’ to refer to all of the above gender identities between male and female, on this continuum.

And…

Be cognizant of the language being used in the classroom and during school events. For example, texts and lessons that use ‘she/he’ binary ignore the range of gender identities discussed in this document. By using more inclusive language, such as ‘they’ instead of ‘she’ or ‘he’, not only will transgender youth feel more supported but it will also help educate the entire school community about gender diversity.

And even…

Gender variant students are attending schools in Canada, whether or not they are visible to other students, staff or administrators. There are several reasons why gender variant students may not be visible within the school community. First, most gender variant youth are invisible out of fear for their safety. Individuals whose behaviours do not conform to the stereotypical societal expectations of male and female genders are vulnerable to discrimination, verbal abuse, bullying, and physical violence. Second, while some gender variant individuals’ goal is to ‘transition’, a process where their external appearance is altered to cross from one gender to the opposite, there are a variety of other gender variant individuals that do not embody such drastic changes. The remainder adopt gender variant identities at various points along the continuum. For example, some may choose to alter only their dress. Finally, making the assumption that there are no gender variant youth in schools creates a barrier for gender variant youth to disclose their identities or for recognizing students who may be struggling with this issue.

I’ll be printing the whole document out to give to Jeremy’s teacher on the first day of school. While it would have been a huge help this spring when I was discussing using more pronouns in the classroom, it’ll still be a huge help this fall. Plus I’ve got Jeremy’s permission to tell the teacher he’s gender non-conforming, which will also be a help.

Jeremy’s long hair…

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I can’t get over how long Jeremy’s hair is getting, especially since it was barely shoulder length on New Year’s Day. It’s also getting straggly on the ends and needs a trim. My woefully bad hairdressing skills are not up to the task.

I need to talk to the hairdresser down the street and see if she can a) handle the eczema he’s currently dealing with (Emma got sent away from one chain hair cutting place in tears when they claimed her scaly patches were lice) and b) if she’s willing to cut his hair in a girl’s style without any sabotage or negative comments. I’ll even fork over the extra $2 for the girl’s cut.

This is just one of the pictures I’ve shared on Twitter; there have been others. Also, you can see his new water bottle in the top left corner of the photo.

p.s. I know the desk looks horrible but it’s Jeremy’s desk. I’ll need to clean it up soon though because he’s lost one of his keys on it.

This just happened…

Jeremy walked into my room to show me his new solar panel robot we got at Dollarama yesterday.

“I’ll read you the blog post I just wrote,” I told him as I flipped through our stats page. “I think you’ll only be the seventh to read it, not including me… unless some of the people who started on the home page also read it. But you’ll be no less than the seventh.”

Jeremy rolled his eyes and sat down. “Okay, fine, you can read it now,” he said once he was settled. I read him the blog.

“It was fine,” he said when I finished. “Good.”

Which is what he says in response to every blog post I’ve ever written. If I’m reading him a chapter I’ve just written, his answer changes slightly to “Fine” and “Good conversations.”

“Lenny suggested maybe creating a list of the good things and bad things about being trans and seeing if that would help you sort things out. Do you think it would be a help?”

He smiled. “Yeah, that sounds good.”

“Okay… so what would some good things be about being trans?”

He shrugged and stayed silent. I listened to the metaphorical crickets chirp for a few seconds.

“Okay… how about the bad things then?” I figured if he got some bad things out, we could work our way back to some good things.

Another shrug and more crickets.

“Hon, I’m getting the feeling you’re not trying,” I commented.

“Mom. I am thinking. You don’t know what’s in my head.”

“And yet you came up with nothing for either list. C’mon, not even bathrooms?” Considering how often he’s brought them up before, I figured that one would be a given. Once again he shrugged.

“I’m guessing when you said you’d be interested in doing that list, you didn’t mean right this second,” I said and Jeremy nodded.

I leaned over and rested my hand on his chest. “Jeremy, right here, right in your heart… deep down inside… when you listen to yourself, do you feel like a man?”

“I don’t know,” he replied.

“Okay… do you feel like a woman?”

“I don’t know,” he repeated.

I thought for a second. “Maybe you just don’t feel like either gender,” I mused.

“I don’t know,” he said sounding frustrated.

“You know what. I bet deep down inside you feel like… a cat.”

Jeremy snorted.

“Which is fine but if you start licking yourself, I’m expecting you to start using the kitty litter.”

“And I’m out of here,” he said after rolling his eyes.

This would be how we spend our Saturday nights. It’s barely 8pm here and we’re both in our pyjamas. Also, Jeremy just walked by dragging a glowing green Xbox controller by its cord, kind of like you’d walk a toy dog. Because it’s broken and because walking broken game controllers around the apartment is what everyone does.

So nothing’s been sorted out but I’m reasonably certain Jeremy is not a cat.

Hello… anyone there?

That would be me calling out the title inside Jeremy’s brain; I get the feeling he spends as little time in there as possible. I freely admit that I am venting and that I don’t understand. That being said, I don’t understand!

Take last summer for instance. Jeremy told me several times that he was interested in boys as well as girls. Over the next half year he waffled, telling me he didn’t know if he was interested in boys because he tried his hardest not to think about it… then he started telling me he was straight. Which is fine, it’s not like there’s some quota I’m trying to fill…

“Jeremy, we don’t have enough LGBTQ people in our family so you’re it. Pick a group and run with it.”

… but at the same time I really don’t get the “I’m trying hard not to think about it” comments.

When Jeremy saw the video on Just Kidding News, he insisted he needed to write a letter and share it with them. I decided to share a letter as well.

I called him into the room before I published it and said, “Hon, I need you to listen to this and tell me if my letter is correct. I’m not in your head and don’t want to put words in your mouth. Please tell me if I mis-identified you in any way.”

Jeremy listed to the letter and told me he agreed 100%. He even agreed the words “gender nonconforming” fit him. Then I asked him if I could share the letters in a closed Facebook group I belong to and he said yes. I wanted to go back and add a link to the blog a little while later and he refused.

“Jeremy? I was just wondering why you turned down the link to our blog,” I asked. “Considering how much was in the letter, I’m not sure there’s anything else in the blog that would be a surprise.”

He looked confused. “Well what was in the letter?”

I scrolled back to the post, “I said you identify as non-conforming, haven’t sorted out your gender identity yet, and are likely trans.”

He smirked. “That’s just you putting words in my mouth.” I thought the smoke coming from my ears was going to set off the alarm.

“I read you that letter,” I retorted. “AND I asked you to tell me if you agreed or disagreed with what I wrote AND you told me you agreed 100%. What the hell is the point of me asking you if you’re going to agree then and claim I made it all up later? If I’m wrong, tell me where it is so I can try and fix it.”

He looked embarrassed. “It’s fine,” he finally said. “What you wrote is fine.”

Then came this morning. To be totally honest, I can’t even remember how the conversation started. Jeremy had been up since 4am and woke me up with him rustling around, talking to himself and the cats, and making something to eat. My alarm was set for 5:45am, I had not planned on getting up almost two hours early and was not very conscious. I do remember asking him if he could at least tell me whether he was 100% male or not. I figured that one would be easy. It wasn’t. He had no idea. And once again he informed me he tries his hardest not to think about the subject. Which made me picture the inside of Jeremy’s skull looking like this…

Tumbleweeds2

 

Then to top it off, he asked when he’d ever said he was bisexual because he couldn’t remember ever saying that. I told him when (again) and he looked surprised (again). I’m sure he’ll forget again soon.

I told him I loved him, grabbed my lunch, and headed off to catch the bus. Once I got on I messaged Lenny.

“I freely admit I don’t get it. He can’t even tell me if he feels 100% male or not because he tries his hardest not to think about it. He did this with being bisexual too. Told me for ages that he didn’t know at all. Then we had a conversation where he went from saying he didn’t know to saying he was straight in less than a minute. Now he keeps forgetting he ever told me he was bi. It’s just frustrating and concerning that he blocks and hides this stuff from himself.”

Lenny replied, “This path will cause me pain is a powerful reason not to let it all hang out.”

Which makes sense. I just wish he’d spend a little more time thinking and a lot less time ignoring himself. He’s a good kid to hang around with, I wish he was happier with himself and happier to be himself.

(Also, I found the tumbleweed gif at Awesomely Luvvie)