I got off work this Friday to find a message from the school. This left me standing at the bus stop, cars speeding past, trying my hardest to listen. Jeremy had been sent home that day, I could call “him” to find out why. The message was hours old; the person’s name blurred by static. And, of course it was too late to call back. They did, however, want to meet on Tuesday to discuss my letter. Luckily I have Tuesday off this week and Jeremy’s anger management appointment is first thing that morning, which left most of the day clear.
I called Jeremy while I was on the bus to see what happened.
“Apparently there’s a new school rule,” zie immediately informed me. “No one in the entire school is allowed to have a bag by their desk, in case they’re going to start dealing drugs. Unless they’re in a wheelchair like [classmate] or are a teacher, because the teachers are allowed to keep their purses on the floor by their desk.”
My heart sank. I’d struggled for hours to find a compromise between Jeremy’s frantic need to have electronics nearby so zie can stay calm and zir teacher’s insistence on not having “gadgets” on Jeremy’s desk. I’d picked the smallest bag Jeremy owns…
The bag in question would be the blue TARDIS bag near the top, the box in front holds a coffee mug to give some perspective. I told zir that zie couldn’t have anything hanging out of the bag. I figured that would be discreet enough and not a distraction but, at the same time, it would award Jeremy with some comfort. A friend is currently mailing zir a small SuperMario star stress ball.
I called the school first thing this morning then sat around waiting for a call back. I finally got one an hour and a half later from the head of the special education department. She was able to set an appointment for tomorrow afternoon, which is great. The call tanked from there.
I stated in the letter that I would like Jeremy to attend the meeting. She didn’t think that would be a good idea, claiming that if Jeremy attends we’ll only get “his perception” and she wants me to know what’s really happening. She went on to tell me that “he found the letter to be very empowering” (this was said with a tone of disapproval) and that “he’s” taken the letter to be set in stone. Apparently the accommodations I suggested would be a distraction to all the other students in the classroom.
This left me wondering what on earth’s in the letter that’s so distracting. I didn’t ask for much. I want Jeremy to use zir netbook for assignments but zie’s not the only child in class with a laptop. I asked for zir to be able to use a stress ball, which is hardly outrageous when it comes to accomodations. Zie’ll be squeezing it, not lobbing it at zir classmates. And, of course, the infamous bag by zir feet. Presumably that would be a distraction with three teachers standing over Jeremy, telling zir to put it away now or face the consequences. I fail to see how a small bag, tucked away under the desk, would be a distraction otherwise.
She wouldn’t clarify what was the distraction though, just reiterated that we’ll discuss it at the meeting.
I insisted Jeremy needs to be at the meeting, that zie needs a voice in the discussion. I stressed that Jeremy feels unwelcome in the school; that zir voice isn’t heard. She retaliated by claiming this was an adult discussion and needed to stay among the adults. I reminded her that zie’s going to be 18 years old in half a year and is technically an adult. Zie needs to have input into zir future. I don’t think she was thinking very positive thoughts about me at this moment. I didn’t really care.
I then went on to inform her that Jeremy’s picked out pronouns and is now using zie and zir. I even spelled them out. Her response? A rather patronizing,”And that’s fine,” followed by, “now I think it best if he stays in the classroom while we discuss…” He.
So from the sounds of it I’ll be in the meeting first while we hammer out information then Jeremy can come in and offer zir input… but by then almost everything will be discussed. “Some say” being a step up from the “no say” zie was originally getting. I will have to sit down and hammer out Jeremy’s wishes and goals this afternoon once zie wakes. What a far cry from grade school where they insisted zie attend every meeting from grade six on upward because zie was going off to high school soon and needed to learn how to make decisions and use zir voice.
Last night Jeremy informed me that, while zie knows zie’s not 100% male, zie’s trying out pronouns to see which fits best… zie or he. My friend Lenny assured me this is normal and that zie needs some real life exposure to get an idea of what feels better. Normal or not, I’m already panicking at the thought of going into the school to battle for zir right to use the pronouns of zir choice. The thought of zir saying in another month that zie’d rather be referred to as he and having to re-explain all this to the school has me reaching for a paper bag to breathe into. Judging from her “that’s fine” comment, immediately followed by “he”, I’m figuring we’re going to have quite a battle on our hands no matter which pronoun ultimately feels right for Jeremy.
Which brings me to my final bit of irony. This is on the front of Jeremy’s school calendar…