Life in the land of Colin…

The phone rang while I was in the washroom. I swore as I got off the toilet and ran awkwardly to my room as I pulled up my pants. It stopped ringing as my hand touched the phone. It was Colin. No one else has that bad timing. I called him back.

“Mom? I’m done school now. Can you meet me at the voting place? I have my one piece of ID.”

I voted

Me voting and looking cute as hell doing so!

And I had his voter’s card. I agreed and went to get ready. I had one foot in the air about to put my shoe on when the phone rang again. Of course it was Colin, he was just getting on the bus. So I got my shoes on and headed out the door with my ID and both voter’s cards. It was a two for one deal. I was getting out to vote and getting in more steps for my fitbit (which is currently at almost 15k steps).

I met Colin by the traffic lights and headed into the school with him, where we both got directed to different stations. I agreed my name and address were the same, listened to the voting instructions and headed off to vote. Meanwhile Colin was busy chatting up the volunteers. I’d finished voting when he finally made it to the voter’s booth. This year we had an electronic counting program, sitting on a cardboard box instead of just a cardboard box with a hole cut out on the top. It beeped. Colin looked intrigued. And then we headed out.

“Do you know what I think would help voting?” Colin asked. He didn’t wait for an answer. “Basketball.”

I couldn’t wait to hear this one.

“In order to vote you’d have to shoot a hoop,” he continued. “There’d be lower ones for people in wheelchairs, otherwise it wouldn’t be fair.”

I must have missed something. “Umm… why would you need to shoot a hoop in order to vote?”

“For exercise!” he exclaimed, looking at me like I’d lost my mind. “We have an obesity epidemic. If everyone had to shoot hoops to vote, think about how much practicing they’d get done.”

I decided not to tell him that some people actually don’t vote and that would increase if shooting hoops became mandatory. There was no point in opening that can of worms.

“If you’re that worried about obesity, you could always go for walks with me,” I pointed out.

He looked affronted, “I walk every day to the bus with this huge red basket!”

The basket doesn’t even reach his knees.

“Besides, I’ve lost 30lbs, which is really hard to do considering I have to eat junk food because we’re broke.”

“I don’t eat junk food,” I pointed out. “And I’m just as poor as you.”

“Well what do you eat?” he scoffed. “Besides lentils.”

“I eat pasta-”

“Bzzzt!” he interrupted.

“-with tomato sauce and lots of vegetables.”

“That’s not healthy.”

“I eat frozen mixed vegetables with-”

“That’s so not healthy,” he interrupted, again. “That’s like 20 or 40 or half the amount of nutrients that are in regular veggies.”

“No, they have the same amount of nutrients as fresh veggies and sometimes even more,” I responded. He looked mulish and I sighed, “Just talk to Daisy, the nutritionist, if you don’t agree with me.”

He nodded then continued, “Do you know what’s really good and nutritious? Preservatives!”

I must admit I did not see that one coming.

“They have them in so many things, even bananas.”

“Bananas don’t have preservatives,” I replied. “They’re picked green and sprayed with a gas to ripen during transit.”

We walked into our building and checked our mailbox then Colin asked, “Do you know what we need?”

I was a bit scared to answer.

“Okay what,” I replied hesitantly.

“Radio free zones. They block out everything. Microwaves, wifi, everything. That way if there’s an alien trying to communicate with us, we’ll have a chance of hearing them.”

I was under the impression that radio free zones were simply camping areas that were more quiet than the rest of the park but I didn’t feel like arguing. I pushed the elevator button instead and held the door for someone else to get on.

“And they help with allergies too, like with people who think they’re allergic to wifi or radio waves. You know, the placebo effect.”

“I thought the placebo effect was for medicine,” I replied. By this time my head was starting to hurt.

“That’s one definition. You can also make someone feel more pain by saying a needle’s going to hurt.”

“Will I find these definitions in the dictionary or did you just make them up yourself?” I asked.

“It depends on the dictionary,” he said scornfully as he followed me into my room.

I opened up Facebook and found a blog post I wanted to read. Meanwhile Colin continued on about radio waves and how if aliens were trying to reach us, we were likely blocking their signal. I didn’t bother mentioning that if their message was reaching us now, they were likely long dead. Meanwhile my head was now pounding.

“Colin? I love you but my head’s pounding and I need some quiet,” I pleaded.

“But it’s really important. There could be aliens trying to contact us right now but our microwave isn’t letting them!”

“I’m serious. Quiet.”

“Fine,” he said scornfully and flounced out of the room. I’d like to say it ended there but that was when the cats started crying for attention. So I fed them and now finally have peace, well as much peace as I can while Colin talks to his computer.

If you’ve ever wondered what life with Colin’s like, this would be it. Kind of like a talk show host doing a stream of consciousness monologue while high. I love the kid dearly but he is very hard to follow sometimes.

And it’s his 21st birthday on Tuesday! We’re going to our local mall on Saturday and meeting up with his cousins to try out the new virtual reality location. Hopefully it’s amazing and fabulous. Just like him.

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A family visit and weekend musings…

We had a family dinner today and both my Mom and I were panicking for different reasons. My Mom was worried because this was the first dinner since Emma moved out (after a deadline was set for her to leave) and she didn’t know if dinner would end up being awkward or tense. I was worried because my parents don’t know about Jeremy’s indefinite suspension from school and I couldn’t figure out a way to tell them. Jeremy wasn’t exactly a sweet and innocent victim to begin with and, once Jeremy’s panicked reason to refuse those ballet stretches was removed, zie comes across as a complete asshole.

I could already hear the conversation, starting with shock that zie didn’t just do the stretch because “it wasn’t going to kill him” then moving on to horror that zie argued with the principal. I know where Jeremy’s coming from because zie doesn’t sit alone with zir thoughts ever. I love going for long walks in the woods, with nothing but nature sounds and my own thoughts. Jeremy can’t handle a two minute wait for the bus on zir own without music or a video game. Twenty minutes to an hour of sitting in an office with nothing to do but flip through a magazine would have been torture. My parents’ reaction would have been to suck it up and deal because zie’s seventeen. I agree that Jeremy needs to learn ways of coping with zirself without panicking; I just don’t feel sucking up’s going to work well. Leaving school when feeling stressed was part of Jeremy’s safety plan last year but I know my parents would be on the “just suck it up” bandwagon there too. School’s not stressful… just deal.

This would end up as an hour of listening to how horrible Jeremy is and how zie’ll never have a job or any sort of normal life, which makes for an awful visit. So I decided it was not happening. Of course I screwed up dismally when I decided this because I forgot Jeremy was not involved in my internal frettings and conversation.

“Okay, so it didn’t happen,” I blurted. “No indefinite suspension… no leaving school.”

“Really?” Jeremy said hopefully. “You mean I can go back on Monday? It’s all done?”

Crap! Talk about feeling two centimeters tall.

“Oh sorry hon,” I explained. “I meant we aren’t telling Nana and Grandad about the suspension. As far as they know you’re still going to school and everything’s fine.”

“Oh,” came zir quiet reply.

I shrugged and gave Jeremy a half smile. “We’re already keeping a huge secret from them anyways. What’s one more?” Zie grinned back.

Mom was waiting at the front door, watching for us as we walked down the street. She had pop chilling in the fridge, a vegan casserole in the oven (alongside the meat one) and Jeremy’s favourite ice cream bars in the freezer. Dad reclined in the chair in the living room and greeted us as we walked inside. Emma and Mark arrived a short while later.

We had one brief mishap. Jeremy was chatting in the kitchen with my Mom when I heard her voice raise.

“…those sort of things are not talked about at school,” she explained. “It might be fine to talk about gender at church but school’s different. They have to be neutral and gender is simply not acceptable to discuss. The teachers shouldn’t have to deal with stuff like that…”

“They’re mandated by law to deal with gender issues,” I commented as I walked into the room. Jeremy stood silent. I figured zie’d probably brought up the topic to test the waters. It obviously hadn’t worked well.

“It’s something better kept private and not mentioned in school at all,” she retorted. “It’s not school appropriate.”

“Jeremy? Emma was looking for you. I think she had something to show you.” I hoped Emma would play along.

“Really?” Jeremy turned and hurried out. I followed.

Emma wasn’t downstairs at all, she’d gone to use the washroom. The poor kid opened the door to find both of us standing right there. Jeremy was all excited because zir sister had something to share while I was winking so quickly it probably looked like I was having some sort of seizure.

“Nana was talking about gender with Jeremy,” I quickly explained. “I said you had something to show zir.”

She stared at me with more than a little irritation. “I don’t have anything to show. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“I know,” I hissed. “It was an excuse. Find something.”

“Maybe that box of electronics,” Jeremy said hopefully.

“But I don’t know where it is,” she wailed.

“It’s an excuse,” I stressed. “It doesn’t matter if you know where it is.” I finally saw the lightbulb turn on and they headed off to Emma’s old room.

The rest of the night went wonderfully. We chatted and laughed about a variety of subjects including a long discussion regarding a giant chicken mobile on a farm north of here.

“This dinner went so well,” my Mom said happily as we said our goodbyes. And it did.

I uploaded my pictures when we got home and shared a photo from our family dinner on Facebook. It’s one of the rare good shots of my mother. She has this unusual talent of looking just fine in the viewfinder then looking absolutely horrid in the photo. I’m talking sunken cheeks, half closed eyes, partially open mouth… you name it, it’s happening in the photo and it wasn’t happening half a second earlier. Most times when I share family photos they come with the warning of “my Mom doesn’t actually look like that.” This photo really does look like her. Then I showed Jeremy zir birthday scrapbook page. I used to scrapbook the day I took the pictures; right now I’m three months behind and haven’t printed out a page since February. There is a plus side to my huge whopping delay though.

“See, I used zir on your page,” I pointed out. Jeremy beamed then I closed my scrapbooking program so zie could have the desktop.

“So tomorrow I’m going to out you at church. Is there anything in particular that you want me to say?” I asked then watched as Jeremy nearly spat cereal across the living room.

This was a continuation of a conversation we’d had that afternoon… not something I’d suddenly thrown at zir. I offered to be the one to explain exactly what non-binary trans is then share Jeremy’s preferred pronouns and how to use them in a sentence… which means Jeremy should (hopefully) miss a good chunk of the questions. Zie only goes to the youth group and the occasional potluck so zie won’t be there. Plus we go to a welcoming UU congregation so, presumably, everyone there is likely to at least attempt to use the correct pronouns.

“I can’t think of anything,” Jeremy replied once zie’d swallowed zir cereal and was past the risk of choking. “I’m sure you’ll say everything.”

I stink at public speaking. I flipped on the dining room light then watched as Jeremy glared.

“I’m just getting some chocolate then I’ll turn out the lights so you can watch your video.”

“Can you get me some too?” zie asked hopefully.

“It’s dark chocolate,” I warned. Jeremy likes dark chocolate sometimes and hates it other times so a warning is necessary. “I got it from Lenny.”

“The other zir,” Jeremy said with a smile, which quickly widened. “The word zir sounds like an alien. A really super cool alien.”

Also, I don’t actually have a conclusion but I do have two photos I took last night when we walked over to our local greenspace in an attempt to see the Northern Lights. We live in an urban area and, despite the solar storms, were rated for a poor chance of viewing. Chances are the whitish film in the sky was simply clouds reflecting all the city lights but it was still neat. Enjoy 🙂

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