Cloudy with a chance of cold…

Okay, so it’s not cloudy and it’s a lot closer to *holy crap freezing* than merely cold but the title stands (simply because I hate writing titles).

Jeremy stayed up until about 4am Sunday morning.  Zie knows zie’s been missing school every single Monday for weeks due to insomnia and hoped that staying up for 36 hours straight would allow zir to sleep Sunday night. Which didn’t happen and zie missed yet another Monday. I called on my way home from work to ask how zir chores went. I hadn’t left Jeremy with much, just tidying zir room and taking out the recycling.

“I didn’t get anything done Mom. It felt like someone was shooting daggers across the room into my eyes and I kept having to keep them closed.”

Jeremy can be more than a tad dramatic but that one left me speechless.

“Umm…” I finally stammered. “Uh, how are they feeling now?” Is there actual blood? Do I need to call 911?

“They feel okay now,” zie said. Phew.

“Can you go across the street and buy laundry soap?” I asked tentatively. Jeremy instantly panicked.

“No! I can’t do that, I really can’t.”

Laundry would have been nice. I’d spent a half hour plunging the urinal at work and really needed to wash my uniform. I have no idea what the urinal was clogged with. I have no interest in finding out. Thankfully I have an extra uniform so the laundry wasn’t a dire emergency. A shower was more important and I didn’t need laundry soap for that; just Jeremy’s “soap for hair”.

Then along came today. Jeremy called work in an absolute panic. Zie’d set the alarm for the wrong time (which zie hadn’t because I’d watched zir set it the night before) and was going to miss the appointment. I assured Jeremy that zie had plenty of time; everything would be fine. I got off the phone once zie stopped crying and went back on the floor only to hear the phone ring. I sighed and immediately turned around.

“Make it quick,” my manager snapped as she handed me the phone. “I need this for actual work today.”

I got on the phone to find Jeremy having a panic attack. Zie was hysterical and struggling to breath but I managed to get zir calmed down. The other manager was sympathetic and allowed me to call Jeremy back a short while later. I was relieved to find zir sleepy and a lot more relaxed.

The first manager sent me home less than an hour later, likely her idea of a punishment because I’d been off the floor too much, but it was a relief for me because I was worried about Jeremy. I didn’t like how panicked zie’d been and didn’t want zir home alone.

I called zir twice on my way home and both calls went to zir voice mail. I knew I’d go home and find zir fast asleep but couldn’t help worrying. Jeremy swears the EffexorXR’s helping and zie’s no longer suicidal but that doesn’t stop my fears. I left a second voice mail and wondered if my heart was pounding loud enough to be heard.

Jeremy was sleeping peacefully when I got home, which was a relief. Zie was still peacefully asleep four hours later, which was not.

“Come on Jeremy,” I sighed impatiently. I put my hand on zir shoulder. “Emma and Mark are going to be here in another hour or so and I’ve woken you three times already. You need to get out of be-”

My mouth snapped shut as zie opened zir eyes. Both whites were vivid scarlet, which explained zir dagger comment from yesterday.

“How’s your throat?” I asked. I felt Jeremy’s forehead then realized that was pointless with the mini electric fireplace blowing across zir bed.

“It’s sore,” zie whispered. Great.

“Go back to sleep,” I said quietly then turned out the light. Zir school will just have to deal with Jeremy missing yet another day of school. It’s not like they’re teaching zir anything at this point.

The school board official called while I was talking to Emma and I quickly called her back. Gatineau has not returned any of her multiple phone calls, despite them telling me they were eager to talk to her (and me signing a stack of release forms giving them permission). Plus she has no leads on other schools. Her only suggestion was to get Jeremy in to see the doctor about anxiety, which I’ve already done.

Thankfully my call with Emma was more fruitful. She picked up laundry soap while they were grocery shopping and she and Mark are going to take me to the drug store for eye ointment (which I’m beyond grateful for considering it’s -20C).

And for our good news… we’re going to see Pentatonix in two more months!!! This will be Jeremy’s very first concert. I can’t wait, not only to enjoy the music but to see Jeremy enjoying the music! For those who don’t know who I’m talking about, enjoy…

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A change…

“Mom? Can we go shopping please?” Jeremy begged. It was Boxing Day and I had no interest in shopping, let alone battling the hordes looking for post-Christmas deals. Jeremy however had $50 burning a hole in zir pocket and a desperate need to look for blue tooth headphones.

“I guess,” I sighed, “but just Target.”

We live two blocks from Target which made it an easy trip. Jeremy was thrilled. Sadly the one blue tooth headset they had was just over a hundred dollars.

“Why don’t we try Giant Tiger next?” Jeremy asked then zie looked more closely at me. “You look tired though. Why don’t you go home instead. I can go on my own and you can heat the oven up for my pizza.”

I agreed and we both headed out; me toward home and Jeremy to Giant Tiger. Zie ended up going to not one but two stores, in the dark, on zir own. And that was just the beginning. I called Jeremy from work on Saturday only to find zie’d gone out for a walk by zirself. Then yesterday we took two buses down to the big regional mall so we could bring in our desktop computer for repairs. I got off the bus and realized I’d left my purse, with both my mall gift cards, at home. Which wouldn’t have mattered except the camera I’d been admiring since June was on sale and they only had one left.

“I can go home and get your wallet,” Jeremy offered. I stared at zir in surprise.

“Are you sure?” I asked.

“Yeah,” zie replied offhandedly. “It’s no problem.”

It would have been a problem before. Going home meant catching one of four different buses downtown and then transferring onto one of two buses. Since it was a Sunday, zie’d have almost an hour’s wait home alone before taking a similar trip back.

Jeremy headed off and called me at the transfer points and at home, where zie happily told me about having to find a superintendent to let zir into our apartment because zie’d forgotten zir keys. No sign of stress or anxiety throughout the whole event. Jeremy might have volunteered before but would have changed zir mind when faced with four different buses to catch just from the mall alone.

I worked today and, once again, Jeremy got bored while I was at work and headed out for a walk. Then zie informed me that zie’d be more willing to go swimming if zie had a new bathing suit. That’s something I’ll have to start looking at over the next few weeks. We have an indoor pool downstairs and I think Jeremy’s used it twice this year.

It’s been 10 days since Jeremy started taking EffexorXR. I have a feeling it’s going to be as helpful for zir as it has been for me.

Jeremy on one of zir walks with zir purple, sparkly car.

Jeremy on one of zir walks with zir purple, sparkly car.

Merry Christmas!!!

So far Jeremy’s had an amazing day. Zie loves zir new purple remote control car and cheerfully exclaimed, “Yay, it’s a girl car!” when zie opened it. And zie was thrilled with everything in zir stocking. Now I’m off to make the cinnamon buns and get ready for Emma and Mark to arrive.

Best wishes to everyone for a wonderful day and (((hugs))) for all who need one (or two).

shopping cart

Editing to add a shot of Emma and Jeremy’s matching gummy bear earrings…

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Silent Night…

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I should be in bed. Jeremy’s been in zir room for over an hour now and I’m fully expecting zir to wake me before sunrise. Zie’s so anxiously hopeful about getting a remote control car, to the point where I’m glad I bought it (and remembered batteries) because I’m pretty sure zir Christmas would be crushed without it. The flip side is I’m also reasonably sure finding a big purple remote control car is going to be the highlight of zir day.

Tomorrow should be relatively peaceful. I say ‘should’ because nothing ever truly goes as planned. It’s about as un-chaotic a day as anyone could organize though. Emma and Mark are coming over for lunch and then Jeremy and I are spending the rest of the day on our own. I did originally invite their grandmother to join us but their Dad came down to spend Christmas with her instead. This meant the kids visited them yesterday.

To say I was nervous about the visit would be an understatement. Their Dad called the day before to inform me that he was going to warn the kids that if they acted up the person who was misbehaving would be sent home.

“That’s fine,” I assured him then added, “As long as it extends to you too.”

“I don’t fight with the kids!” he said, sounding affronted. I simply waited. “I only point out the flaws in what Emma says.”

“Yeah, don’t do that.” His version of pointing out flaws involves picking at her until she blows up then cheerfully complaining about how argumentative she is.

He agreed then I got Jeremy to call zir sister and warn her about their Dad’s new rules. I didn’t want it to be their Dad who shared the news because I knew he wouldn’t be tactful.

The kids started their visit while I was at work. I wondered aloud if I’d need bail money. Thankfully I didn’t because I don’t think our laundry quarters would stretch very far.

Jeremy was worried before zie left because we didn’t get a Tim Hortons coffee mug for zir Dad this year. Their Dad asks for one every year without fail, dropping repeated requests that start back in May. Two years ago I bought him one and Jeremy carefully placed it into a gift bag and signed the tag. Then it sat underneath the tree until I took the tree down and placed it under the end table… where it sat until the summer. By that time the package of coffee inside was about to expire and Jeremy gave the mug to someone else. Last year Emma bought him a mug with her own money. Once again it sat unopened until the summer when she took it out of the package and used it herself. This year he told her he really wants a mug because he threw away every single other mug they’ve given him because he didn’t feel like packing them when he moved. There was no way on earth I was buying him one but that didn’t stop Jeremy from worrying.

I pointed to the counter and the racks of freshly baked cookies. “I’m filling a gift bag of cookies for your Dad. Don’t worry sunshine, you’ll have a present for him.”

Jeremy sighed with relief and headed off to bed. Zie sighed too soon. Their Dad opened his gift then said, with obvious disappointment and sarcasm, “Oh cookies, yum, thanks kids.” Meanwhile he didn’t bring the kids anything, not even a card. I told Emma that if he didn’t want them, I’d take them back. There’s plenty of people who’d appreciate homemade cookies. There’s plenty of people who did appreciate them. I’ve been giving them out all month.

And then he got creepy. Joking that his mother should tell her friend she was too busy banging an 18 year old and a 13 year old to answer the phone. He couldn’t understand why no one else thought that was funny. Plus he repeatedly told the kids that all he wants for Christmas is to unwrap an 18 year old. The kids are 17 and 19 years old and found their Dad’s unsubtle hints that he wants to have sex with someone their age beyond gross. Hearing about his comments makes me want to get a scrubbie from the kitchen and scour myself raw. I can tell myself (truthfully) that he’s gotten worse over the years but still…

Finally it was time for them to leave. Their grandmother bustled around, making sure they had their Christmas cards and that everyone was in their coats and set for a goodbye hug and kiss. Meanwhile their Dad wandered over to the bed and laid down, immediately pretending to fall asleep instead of saying goodbye. He might claim he passed right out except when Emma announced she was sure he was lying on her tablet, he conveniently rolled over and off the device.

Jeremy hasn’t said more than five words about the visit. Instead zie’s been anxious and fidgety about everything else. Repeatedly commenting about the remote control car, dissolving into tears when I asked to pause the Christmas music zie’d wired to the tree so I could listen to a video for a minute, barely able to sit through dinner. Zie settled down at bedtime and has been quiet ever since but I can honestly say I’m glad zie only sees zir Dad about once or twice a year. I wish that wasn’t the case. I wish zie had an amazing father. But as Karen says regularly, it is what it is.

I’ve got a very laid back day planned for tomorrow. Roasted sweet potato soup and homemade cinnamon buns for lunch with Emma and Mark followed by a quiet afternoon and an easy dinner. And this is what’s waiting for Jeremy when zie wakes up.

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I can’t say it’s a silent night anymore because we’re now getting wind gusts of 100km/hr but hopefully tomorrow will be filled with peace.

Sweet dreams and best holiday wishes to everyone!

One whole year…

I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since I wrote my first post. I’d spent the previous month pondering whether I should start a new blog. I already had one, which was well known to family and friends, but I found myself with lots to say and, since I didn’t want to ‘out’ my kid, nowhere to write it. Plus the few blogs I read were about younger kids, which meant we were dealing with completely different situations. I figured if I couldn’t find blogs about what I was dealing with, there was a space my blog needed to fill. I picked WordPress because my original blog was on Blogspot (I worried my new blog might inadvertently get linked to the old one if they were through the same site) and carefully wrote out an introduction. The rest, as they say, is history.

So much has changed this year. When I started writing, Jeremy was an effeminate young man who thought “he” might be bisexual. Today zie identifies as bigender trans and says zie’s interested solely in women. Zie doesn’t identify as straight though, which makes sense considering zie identifies as partly female. Jeremy’s been struggling with anxiety for a while, becoming increasingly house-bound. Jeremy missed our Solstice Service last night plus the last PFLAG meeting due to anxiety. Zie started on EffexorXR two days ago and I’m hoping it will make a difference.

Writing this blog has made a huge difference for me. I’ve made several friends through here and have found two groups for parents of transgender children (one of which is linked on my resources page; the other is a secret group). The friendships and groups also gave me the confidence to start attending our local chapter of PFLAG, which in turn has a teen group for Jeremy.

In real life I’m quite shy. The support and encouragement I’ve received here has helped me stand up more in real life. I’ve become more vocal and huggy at work and, well, more vocal everywhere. I had my Christmas party on Saturday and a friend of mine started talking about one of my former neighbours, someone I didn’t know (we’re talking about a 20 storey high rise… there are a LOT of neighbours I didn’t know). The neighbour is FtM trans.

“She was a really ugly female but now she’s really hot,” my friend continued.

I’d said “he” several times as she’d talked but my friend remained oblivious. This time I marched over and stood in front of her, my hands on my hips.

“He,” I said firmly. “He’s really hot. He was never female and you need to stop referring to him as she.”

“Oh, sorry,” my friend said and switched to using he. I then gave a mini talk on hormones and how sex organs develop before brains while my friends listened with obvious interest. This isn’t something I would have done a year ago. This isn’t something I really knew about a year ago.

And now we’re moving on to Christmas and 2015. I can’t wait to see what the following year brings 🙂

Anxiety…

“Mom? Do we really live in a democracy?”

I turned around from brushing my hair and blinked at Jeremy. It wasn’t even 6am and I was barely awake. I’d heard Jeremy up several hours earlier though.

“I mean we vote for three people who were chosen by their parties. How can that be a democracy when we have such little choice?”

I put down my hair brush and tried to think of a coherent answer. “Umm… I think we’re in a democratic oligarchy.” That didn’t sound right but it was as close as I could get before the sun rose. “Hon, can we talk about this later?”

Zie rolled zir eyes and headed out to the living room. I followed along behind, thinking of what I needed to do next. My lunch was in the fridge and my phone charging. I grabbed both and put them by the front door then I pulled my shoes from the closet.

“Mom! The computer’s still screwed up! We need to take it in to get fixed immediately!”

I was leaning against the wall while lacing up one shoe. “So it won’t turn on?” I called back.

“No, it turns on. It just drops down to three frames per second once it loads.”

Huh? I had no idea what zie was talking about and didn’t have time to find out. It had taken me much too long to drag myself out of bed and now I only had 10 minutes until I needed to leave and I still needed to make breakfast.

“Hon, can we talk about this when I get home tonight?” I asked then sighed to myself. It wasn’t like tonight was going to be any less busy. I wasn’t getting home until 5pm and we needed to leave by 6:30pm to get to PFLAG.

“Our computer is pretty much destroyed and you’re not going to do anything about it! You’re just going to let it get ruined!” Jeremy yelled before storming off to zir room. I tied my other shoe and headed to the kitchen.

“Where are my track pants? I need them! I can’t go to school without them! What did you do with them!” Jeremy screamed from zir room.

“Jeremy, I haven’t even seen them. You had a blanket wrapped around you last night before bed. They should be in your room.”

“You don’t understand. I need these track pants! You just don’t care! What happened to them? I wasn’t wearing them yesterday, I was wearing my jeans, but they’re too big and my teacher says I can’t wear them anymore and, oh, there they are…” Jeremy’s voice dropped about 5 decibels. I got the peanut butter from the cupboard and signed.

“So, are you going to apologize to me?” I asked.

“No,” Jeremy replied scornfully. I sighed again.

Then I went to work and jumped every time the phone rang even though the school hasn’t called in ages. Instead they’ve been sending Jeremy to the AR room to do whatever zie wants. I don’t think Jeremy’s been learning anything at school for several months now.

I called Jeremy on my way home and was surprised by how quiet zir voice was.

“Can we just stay home tonight Mom? I’m feeling really anxious. I can’t go out anywhere. Please?”

There wasn’t any point in forcing zir to go to PFLAG. Not if zie felt that bad.

“Okay,” I said gently. “Just make sure the big pots are washed so I can make dinner when I get home.”

“I’ll try,” zie whispered.

Jeremy was asleep in front of the electric fireplace when I walked in the door. Zie immediately grabbed zir phone and headed off to bed to watch videos. It wasn’t even 6pm yet. Then zie turned down dinner and even the hash browns I’d brought home from work. Zie loves hash browns.

The kid reads like a checklist on depression. Zie’s barely eating… unless it’s 3am. Zie can sleep for hours… unless it’s night. But zie can also stay up for hours too (I think zir record was 36 hours). Anger… lethargy… tears… anxiety attacks. We’re seeing our family doctor tomorrow. Something has to be done.

I feel like I’m losing myself…

We were sitting in my room. Jeremy sprawled on my computer chair, zir feet propped up on my footstool, while I sat cross legged on my bed with Blackie draped across my lap. Blackie was the only happy one in my room. Her purrs echoed loudly while she butted her head against my hand and arm for more scratches. The fur was flying, in a good (albeit sneezy) way.

We’d been in my room talking earlier or rather Jeremy had been talking. Zie’d quite animatedly explained zir plans for zir bedroom. Jeremy wants to build a kitchen counter with space for zir mostly working Tassimo and a real sink, one that has a tank for fresh water and a tank for used water. I’m not sure my insurance would cover a homemade working sink in Jeremy’s bedroom.

Jeremy’s hands moved while zie talked, they fluttered like butterflies. Zie looked very feminine. I called Jeremy over to my dresser and zie waited patiently while I spread bronze eyeshadow across zir eyelids, swiped a tiny bit of blush along zir cheek bones, and put on some lip gloss. I’d gone with the gloss because it’s pale but I should have gone with lipstick instead. The gloss has a gummy, sticky texture; zie winced as soon as it was applied.

Jeremy hurried into the bathroom. “I don’t like it. This isn’t me,” zie said urgently. “How do I get it off?”

“With a washcloth,” I replied. “No, in the closet beside you,” I added as zie reached for the hand towel. Jeremy smiled briefly and reached around the corner.

“This isn’t me,” zie repeated again, sounding scared.

“Come back into my room. We need to talk,” I announced when Jeremy’s face was clean. Zie rolled zir eyes, not really a good sign but hardly unexpected.

“Just let me use the washroom,” Jeremy sighed.

Zie took a while, which I also expected. This was less a break to use the bathroom and more time to work up some courage. I needed this time too.

Jeremy walked in and every bit of planned speech disappeared out of my mind. I was left staring at zir, positive everything I said was going to come out completely wrong.

“Your gender is not determined by the clothes you wear, makeup, your interests, or how you look. It’s determined by how you feel inside. In one way your Nana was right when she talked about clothing and appearance, they aren’t you. In another way Nana was wrong. She’s under the impression that you need to conform and fit in, ignoring your own comfort levels, because the inner you isn’t the same as the outer you. She’s saying this because she fits in; no one wants her to change her appearance. If everyone insisted she wore micro mini skirts and crop tops she’d be really uncomfortable.”

Jeremy smiled and nodded but didn’t try to speak so I continued.

“I want you to understand that I’m not trying to change you. I’m not trying to force you into gender roles. I just don’t know. When you were in the bathroom I couldn’t tell if you didn’t like the makeup because it didn’t suit you or if you were scared to like the makeup. And that scares me. I love you as you, you’re my child, and I want you to be happy with yourself. I want you to feel comfortable expressing yourself.” By this time tears were streaming down my cheeks. I didn’t try to wipe them off. I just kept watching Jeremy.

“When you were little, we used to joke you’d walk away with the mailman if we let you. You thought everyone was your friend and loved being around people. You got a bit older and I let you wander a little more, but not too much. You had to stay in front of the building where I could see you. This bugged you because your friends could go further.” Jeremy nodded zir head. “But considering they were going behind the building to play in the garbage dumpsters…”

I’d found that out later from one of my neighbours. Those bins had maggots in them, which apparently the kids knew because they were throwing them at each other. I’d have intervened if I’d known at the time. Unfortunately the neighbour hadn’t. Jeremy grimaced and nodded again.

“Then you got old enough to go around on your own. I’d walk into stores and have people tell me what a great kid you are. We’d be in [neighbouring town] and people would honk and yell, “Hi Jeremy!” out their car windows. Even when we first moved here, you’d bike around and meet up with kids. But these days the only times you go out are when you’re with me.”

“I feel like I’m losing myself,” Jeremy said hoarsely. “Like I don’t know who I am.”

My gaze focused on zir, waiting for some honest insight, something I could use to help zir.

“That’s why I need a soldering gun,” zie continued.

Or maybe not.

“Every time I make something, I put a bit of myself into it and then it breaks and I lose some of myself. If I had a soldering gun I could make my inventions stronger so they’d last and I wouldn’t keep losing myself.”

“You are not your inventions,” I protested. “You are more than that. You need to see yourself as more than your collection of electronics.”

“Like you are with your writing?” zie asked pointedly. “How would you feel if you couldn’t write anymore?”

I’d be devastated. I’d hate it. But at the same time, I’m more than my writing.

“Jeremy, I have other things. I have my scrapbooking, I talk with friends, I sing, I go for walks, I swim, I bake. You need to find other things-”

I broke off as music began playing in the living room. It was one of Jeremy’s favourite songs. Had zie set an alarm?

“It’s my ringtone,” Jeremy said as zie got up. “I changed it today.”

“Who’s calling?” I asked and zie shrugged.

“I only set a personal ringtone for you.”

It was Emma. They had a great conversation that lasted well over a half hour. My head was pounding by the time they finished. I’d taken some Advil and was crawling into bed.

Jeremy stayed home from school again yesterday due to stress and I’ve got the weekend off. Hopefully we’ll have another chance at an honest conversation. Hopefully I’ll be able to help Jeremy start finding zirself soon.