A second covid birthday…

Colin's birthday cupcakeIt’s Colin’s 24th birthday today. I’m not sure how he feels about that age but I’m feeling pretty damn old! For once the stars aligned and the extreme part of our lockdown ended yesterday, which meant my parents and I could drive into the countryside and visit Colin today. Yesterday I got all the bits and pieces of his present tucked away in a gift bag, baked a batch of vegan chocolate cupcakes, and checked my email umpteen dozen times. I’d ordered Colin a Doctor Who t-shirt which has been slowly meandering up from California. It made it through customs on the 10th at 9:41pm and was processed at the “local distribution centre” according to the email, but that had been the last I’d heard. Actually that’s still the last I’ve heard, I had to setting for showing Colin a picture on my phone after he’d opened the rest of his gifts then I assured him that just meant we’d need to make another trip to bring the shirt to him.

Colin and his cardWe lucked out and today was gorgeous. Sunny and quite warm. We sat on Colin’s patio and looked at his little garden with it’s lavender and some sort of succulent (and a bunch of grass which had gone to seed because Colin thought it was awesome). And we ate burgers from A&W… and fries… and my chocolate cupcakes (I made sure to bring plenty of extras for him). He loved all his goodies from me and his morning glory from his grandparents, and was thrilled to pieces with his Super Mario game from them. I’m sure he was playing it before we fully backed out of the driveway. He sent me a photo of the game screen pretty quickly!

Once the lunch, present opening, and cupcakes were done we all were getting more than a little wilted. There was no shade anywhere in the big yard, all the trees seemed to be casting shade elsewhere, and the cupcakes were melting. The cupcakes were an easy fix, Colin brought them inside to the air conditioning. We, however, were not. No one other than staff or clients were allowed in the building, not even to use the washroom. Speaking of which, it’s an hour’s drive home and I have a bladder roughly the size of a walnut. If we could go inside and sit in the air conditioning on his couch and nip into his bathroom that would be one thing, but we couldn’t so we really needed to go. We took a quick look at one of the two ponds on the property, which is seriously right beside his patio. No wonder I can hear the frogs croaking during phone calls! And then we went back to the driveway.

I don’t think I will ever, could ever, get used to covid goodbyes. I should have wrapped my arms around him and squeezed as hard as I could, said “I love you” by his ear, and gave him a kiss on the cheek. He should have kissed my forehead, patted the top of my head, and called me his “pocket sized Mom”. Instead, we stood six feet apart, waved, and said goodbye, pausing awkwardly before heading towards the car and the house.

It might have been different than usual but I am so glad I got to see my birthday boy today. I can’t wait to see him again soon!

Colin and I by the pond1

Planning a long distance covid birthday…

I have always planned the kids’ birthdays well in advance and this was still true for Colin’s upcoming 24th birthday. I found a handful of neat things I knew he’d like but was stuck for a main item to put in the gift bag. No biggie, I knew I’d find one soon. And then the lockdown hit, complete with it’s essentials ban. In previous lockdowns I could browse through stores like Walmart and Dollarama but, in this one, I couldn’t browse anywhere! I began to panic then reminded myself the ban lifted at the beginning of June so I’d still have time. Then the ban got extended until two days after Colin’s birthday. I have ordered him something online and it’s on it’s way. According to the website, it’s heading towards a “DHL ecommerce distribution centre” and has been since May 28th. Deep breath… deep breath… it’ll get here when it gets here. Everything else is tucked away in my room.

And whatever’s left is up in the air. Will we be able to go up and visit him once the lockdown’s been lifted? I know we won’t be able to go inside (thanks to covid I’ve only seen his apartment via zoom and photos) but could we stay in the front yard or sit on his patio? It would be nice to see his patio. If we can physically go there I can whip up a batch of cupcakes (so much easier to serve on a lawn than cake) but will they let someone deliver cupcakes from a local bakery if we’re stuck at home an hour away and can’t be with him? There’s no point in even asking until I get a bit more information. And so I wait. And think maybe I should start pinpointing out which bakeries are even near his country home and which bake cupcakes soon. I looked a little earlier, long enough to know not to bother asking about cakes as everyone is all about the theme cakes and I don’t have a theme cake budget. I have a plain, no sprinkles, chocolate cupcake budget. Luckily that’s Colin’s favourite.

present timeI wish so much that things were back to normal (whatever that is) and that in 1 1/2 weeks Colin would be showing up here all set to play with the cats and camp out in the living room. That I could take him in the backyard and show him where the rabbits live and take him on my neighbourhood walk by the creek and show him the duck pond (with a crane, swans, and geese), the tiny waterfall, and the farm. We’d take the bus to visit all the family and stuff ourselves with burgers and fries. And he’d sit at my kitchen table, pulling out item after item with excitement, eager to see what was next until all that was left was remnants of tissue paper and the bottom of the bag. Then we’d watch Doctor Who, or go visit my friend, or stuff ourselves silly with cupcakes, but we’d have fun at the very least.

Hopefully we can do some semblance of this next year for his 25th birthday but for now we’ll just have to piece the days together as best we can and make this his best covid birthday yet!

Call me Colin…

Colin and his pierced ear

Colin with his first pierced ear

Colin has a way of edging topics into conversations and this time was no different. I can’t remember what the original conversation was. Computers? Video games? Politics? But I do remember the rest.

“I really like the name Colin,” he mused. “I think I’m going to keep it no matter what gender I am. Even as a girl.”

I get the feeling that most people figure Colin just “got over” being trans like he’d get over a bad first date or a friendship that drifted apart. It’s not the same thing, it’s not something you just get over. It’s a part of him, like his eye colour or shoe size. Not something he can change.

Earlier, in another conversation, Colin started talking about stopping being transgender. I asked him if he still struggled with gender dysphoria. His response?

“Not anymore. I pushed it down as hard as I could and locked it away so now I don’t feel it anymore.”

I’m no expert but I don’t think that’s how it works. I have a feeling that someday that locked away dysphoria is simply going to explode and I don’t have a clue what to do about it.

He’s not male, no matter what pronouns he uses, and he’ll continue to not be male. All I can do is hope that he accepts it when it blows up in his face and can no longer be ignored. I’ll be there the best I can. The rest is up to him.

Good luck Colin, my hidden daughter. You are loved.

A matter of luck…

I sit here with homemade chocolate chip cookies beside me and I can’t help but reflect on how lucky I am. I’m in a brand new, spotless apartment with working appliances and tasty, clean water. My fridge and cupboards are full of healthy food (and the ingredients for junk food). I have plenty of books to read and unlimited high speed internet. There’s friends and family to call when I need to hear a human voice… specifically their voices. And I have five goofy and loveable cats to keep me entertained.

So many people have so much less. I think of Colin, who’s stuck in our old apartment with no one around and no internet. He wanders over to the community centre to sit outside and download videos via their wifi and he calls me (yesterday he called seven times) but that’s it. He should have just under three weeks left until he moves. That’s going to be so long for him.

The job loss rate around the world is staggering. I was full tonight after dinner and put my leftovers in the fridge. Meanwhile there are countless people counting their change and hoping to scrape together enough money for some food. Where are they going to find work with almost everything closed? They’re trapped in a situation not of their choosing and struggling, and sometimes failing, to make ends meet.

I just read an article which said that police are concerned because domestic violence charges are down when they know the incidents are going up. How many people are injured at home, without medical treatment, because they can’t get out and can’t even make a phone call? How do you get away from an abusive and possessive partner who’s now constantly at home, especially if you have children? My heart aches for those caught in a nightmare with no end in sight. I hope they survive this experience and manage to get away. Please stay strong and stay safe. Do what you can to survive.

Many of our Indigenous people live in substandard housing with no clean running water, expensive food, and no local health care. And now covid-19 has been thrown at them too. How are they supposed to survive when their situation was already deplorable? How are they supposed to take care of the sick with no fresh drinking water and holes in the walls? We need to do a lot more as a country to bring up their living environment. Their treatment is a black mark on the nation.

And I feel horrible for LGBTQIA people, especially teens and young adults, stuck in a home with unsupportive family. It must be hell on earth for trans people who are continually misgendered and misnamed by the people who are supposed to love and care for them and for people who hear regularly about how awful queer people are. There are celebrity ministers right now who claim gay people caused the covid-19 virus, even though it’s beginnings have been clearly established. Quite a few of the people who listen to and agree with those ministers have queer children at home. For all of you. You are loved, you are valued, you are important. This is horrible now… a nightmarish hell… but it will get better. You will break free. Just hold tight.

And here I sit in comfort, passing through the storm in a well stocked and weatherproof home. Lara stands beside me begging for (and receiving) pets. Pentatonix plays on YouTube, while my scented candles wreath the rooms with the aroma of lilacs. We are in the middle of the storm but hopefully, especially for those who are trapped, I hope it blows over soon.

breathe

A covid conundrum…

Colin and Chinese foodI got a call from Colin’s case worker yesterday. The good news is he really, truly should be moving on April 30th. The bad news is they need his banking information. He can’t give them the banking information. He can read a bit but he can’t write and he doesn’t have any internet right now. His banking information is all online. That means he needs to come here.

I know the strict guidelines for covid-19. Stay home… stay safe. And allow no one inside your home except immediate family members, the ones you’re already living with. Having a special needs child makes that difficult, if not impossible.

Colin’s not supposed to be living on his own right now. I moved at the beginning of February and he was supposed to move within a couple of weeks after me. We gave notice to the building and booked the moving elevator. Then came covid and both were cancelled… then and again at the end of March. Colin’s supposed to be living in a group home with six hours of support a day. Not sitting by himself in an almost empty apartment. Everyone has been telling him to stay home. To only shop when necessary. He still goes to Dollarama and Metro every single day to window shop. He still asks me almost every day when we’re going to visit. Can he come over soon? We’d been living together before, he doesn’t understand why we can’t see each other now.

So he came over once for Chinese food and to download some videos to watch when he’s all alone. And I went over to make sure he was keeping up the apartment to the best of his abilities. Then we went grocery shopping together, with me stressing we had to stay 6ft apart. And now he’s coming tomorrow.

I’m looking forward to seeing him and sharing pizza tomorrow but I can’t help but worry that I’m putting him in danger (or he’s putting me in danger). It’s not like covid-19 has a neon sign. I’ve got soap and Lysol wipes so we’ll muddle through as best we can. Having a special needs child is hard and covid’s made it so much harder.

I don’t know when I’m going to see him again after this. He’ll be moving (fingers crossed) in a couple of weeks and will be at least one hour’s drive away. But he’ll have his own apartment and loads of support. It’s just getting him to that point.

Everything’s coming up roses…

First we had my apartment. It was being built so I couldn’t see it, I had to move in sight unseen. Then they gave me a Walmart gift card with a surprising amount of money on it and a brand new double bed and bedding set. The only hard part was that Colin didn’t have a place yet… and now he does.

I was talking to his case manager today and Colin can’t see the apartment because they have a construction crew in there fixing it up. He’s going to have a full apartment; living room, dining room, bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen. It will definitely be bigger than mine. Plus he gets six hours of assistance a day. Help with dishes, cleaning up, laundry etc. They’ll be taking him out for excursions too. He can only bring a certain amount of belongings with him but that’s mainly because they are buying him all the furniture he needs… his choice. The paint in his room and his bedding are also his choice.

Colin can be extremely hard to live with (and conversely can be a delight). Just because I didn’t want to live with him anymore doesn’t mean I want him on the street or some scuzzy room. So I am absolutely amazed and delighted by this turn of events. I am so very happy for him.

Tomorrow I’m meeting up with family and friends to repaint the bedroom walls that I painted four or five years ago. And I’m going to collect everything I forgot. Brain fog and short term memory problems are a blast. Colin has laundry and cleaning up to do. Then I’ll be back there on Thursday to meet with his case manager and discuss the upcoming move.

Thanks to my anxiety, I won’t feel 100% settled until he’s in his own place. But for now I want to sing from the rooftops that Colin has an apartment!

new-apartment

I don’t have a picture of Colin’s apartment so here’s the scrapbooking layout I made for mine.

Colin’s good news…

Colin called me yesterday to say he’d been offered a room in an assisted living facility, which is great but doesn’t leave much space for his stuff. Then he called me back to tell me it actually was a one bedroom basement apartment, still in assisted living.

Today he called and sent me a Facebook message to say where he’s moving. I won’t say the location, just that it’s north-ish of Toronto, but he’s happy. Apparently he’s getting the whole basement so his apartment is going to be huge.

I hope this is a positive step for him, a place to sort himself out, and a place he can learn without me. He tends not to listen to me anymore, he already has all the answers and knows everything. Having other people around who don’t know me or our family should give him a new perspective.

I wish I had more to say, more information to share, but that’s all I’ve got. I’m sure we’ll all have new information soon… we just need to wait (and I’m not good at waiting). In the meantime I’m so glad Colin’s found a place!!!

Eight years later…

Colin posing

Colin posing on one of our walks after the move

It will be eight years in May that Colin and I moved to Oshawa to live in my dream apartment. Two bedrooms, two balconies, and a tonne of storage space… including our own walk in pantry and a storage locker downstairs.

The library and community centre were just a short distance away plus we were surrounded by shopping. Three grocery stores, several drug stores, and enough fast food restaurants to make our livers cry. And then there was the gym and pool downstairs. Talk about bliss to be able to just head downstairs and swim.

I’d picked the apartment for one important reason, there was enough room for both Colin and I. I honestly didn’t think Colin would be able to live on his own. I made sure he was learning life skills like grocery shopping and, later on, paying bills and rent, but I figured this was it. Our final stop. Colin would remain safe with me.

What I didn’t count on is Colin. We just aren’t compatible for living together. I like quiet and order. I find and display a wide assortment of pretty things that I like. My cutlery is from Pier One and is made to look like bronze branches. None of my dishes match, I simply pick out my favourites. Colin, on the other hand, finds my style boring. He loves clutter and computer parts everywhere. He decorates with the computers he’s repaired. They all work and he uses them for various tasks. Clutter makes me uncomfortable and anxious. Plus Colin’s pretty thoughtless. He’ll wake me up at 1am (like last night) to tell me about something, usually men’s rights, and keep waking me each time I fall asleep. After 10 or more minutes I’m awake and he’s done talking. No apology, just an “oh well” before he goes back to his computer game.

I just can’t do it. I love him dearly but I can’t live with him. I’m hoping the move will do him some good, that he’ll find a place and respect it. Meanwhile I’ve got a place of my very own… for the first time. Which is exciting, terrifying, and nerve wracking all rolled into one. I’ve never lived on my own before. I’ve always had parents, a spouse, or kids.

Just one more week and my move should nearly be over. It’s twelve thirty now and I’ve got the 20200129_105252_hdr-01moving elevators booked at 9am in our current place and 11am in my new place.

One thing I’m panicking about is packing. I keep thinking I’m doing well but my eyes skip over stuff because that’s where they go. Except they can’t stay there… and there are so many little things to sort. It’s only a week but will we need medical supplies before then. Is it safe to pack the bandaids? I don’t want to pack too quickly but I also don’t want to be frantically packing at 7am next week.

My new apartment (and building) look good. They aren’t what I planned but they’re still nice. It will be wonderful to have a place of my own that’s clean and safe.

But as I watch Colin’s belongings either get packed or turfed, the bare bones of our apartment show themselves again and I remember my blind optimism that this was going to be my very last home. And then I get back to packing again.

The good… the bad… and, well, there really isn’t an ugly…

I had a meeting today with the agency that’s helping me move and they had my move in date!!! I’m going to be moving on February 5th, nineteen more days! Which is great but I have so much left to do. I didn’t think I’d be moving so soon. I’m sure panic will get me through the next few weeks.

My main concern, once I found out my moving date, was Colin. He’d been assured that he’d have a place by the end of January but nothing more was said and his next appointment with the agency is the end of January. So I called the cheerful, optimistic lady who’s been assuring us everything’s fine and got told that they had until the end of February to move him and, if they didn’t find a place, they’d “try” to get him a storage unit and would place him in a homeless shelter. So a good chunk of this afternoon was spent looking at rooms for rent. He’s already messaged one place and is waiting for a reply.

I got to see pictures of an apartment identical to mine. I’m still worried about my dresser but the kitchen looks great and the bathroom looks amazing. The only downside is the side of the tub is lower so it’s easier to get in, which means no baths. This would be a huge disappointment for Colin because he loves baths but I’m not fond of them and have maybe one or two a year. I’d much rather have a shower.

Well I’m off to work on my holiday bins. I know that I don’t use as many decorations as there are in my bins so there’s plenty to donate or pitch. The storage room looks like something out of a horror movie so wish me luck!

My life…

by Colin Davidson
(the views of the guest are not necessarily the views of me)

In my life I’ve had many ups and downs but I guess that’s life. I guess I should start with the thing that took up most of my childhood, which is school. I can’t remember a lot about elementary school but the stuff I can remember were not the best times of my life. I’ll start with the positives, the breaks (aka lunch and recess) were nice. I was able to hang out with my friends and just chill out. But that’s all that I can remember about the good parts of school. The bad parts were weird. I remember my teacher just never helping. I was never able to learn fast, obviously, because of autism. I probably should have had someone sitting next to me, telling me what to do but I remember having my hand up for thirty or forty minutes at a time but no one would actually help because, I’m assuming they thought I knew how to do it. And whenever I got upset at the teachers they’d put me into the kitchen with a desk and a chair and that was it (Kathleen ~ he was supposed to be the snoezelen room but they saved that for good behaviour, which is not how it works).

High school was another thing altogether. My school life went from bad to worse. But I should start with the first high school I went to. I was able to make friends in the class, pretty simply, and it felt like the teachers were actually listening. They weren’t teaching, at the beginning, as they should but I could tell they were making an effort. The only thing I can say about that school was they should have taught math more but, when I told them I felt uncomfortable eating in the cafeteria that found me a safe place to eat.

The second high school was worse than the first. It actually felt like the teachers actively didn’t like me and made it their mission not to let me do what I wanted to do. I would sometimes bike to school, without my Mom’s permission, so she wouldn’t call the bus company. Some days I’d arrive five or ten minutes late. Well math would be written on the board. And the board is supposed to be this almighty powerful thing that dictates the entire day. But come second period, when math was supposed to be taught, they’d pick something else. I’ve had days where I’d come back to school after a doctor’s appointment or something and the class would be talking about how they did math the day before. I’d always want to do math but it never happened. It always felt like I was being singled out. We’d always have talks when we came back to school after the weekend or holidays where we talked about what we did. She’d let different students talk for more longer so I always kept an eye on the time, like every second when I was at school. So I always knew how long most people got. One person in the class always got like thirty minutes. Everyone else who would actually talk, got like five. And the teachers themselves got like thirty minutes. It wouldn’t abnormal for the class, when we got back from break to have the talks go until lunch. So me and the other students she didn’t like would get like five minutes. I honestly think that teacher should not have been in a special ed class. She would do things like just talk to the EAs and help no students who needed help. Any time I pointed out to her that we needed to learn basic math, she’d get upset. She wanted everyone to be on the same level of education, but no one was at all. I was in times tables with math and there would kids in the class who could barely do addition. They couldn’t do subtraction. And there was a kid in the class who couldn’t tell time off an analogue time at all. It was weird when I got onto the bus going home. I actually had comments from people on the bus saying it was weird I was taking the bus home because I was sent home that much. I have a disagreement with the teacher, I literally asked for math like ten to fifteen times. Now, in the winter they were more hesitant to send me home and to be quite honest, I regret not calling the police that day. It was -20C and the only thing I had to wear, which the school knew, was a long sleeved shirt. I only had a shirt because I always forgot to grab a jacket. After that day I didn’t forget my jacket.

Just a small note. It didn’t affect me too much but, at the time I identified as non-binary and the teachers refused to say my pronouns. It wasn’t the biggest deal for me because of all the stuff I said before but it was still a problem. My Mom brought in someone from the school board to tell them what they had to say and they still refused.

So it was obviously nice times I had with the family. They’d bring us to the zoo and we’d walk over to their place and have fun there. But there were also some things that weren’t great. One of the best examples is I had a skateboard I bought for myself. It was a Darth Vader skateboard. I spent extra for it because it was Darth Vader. I made sure not to use it too much so I wouldn’t mess up the picture. And then, I don’t know if it was me or my Mom but we left it at Nana and Grandad’s. I can’t remember if I asked where it was or they told me but my cousins were using it one day and they left it outside and it got stolen. They didn’t offer to buy me a new one, they just said “kids will be kids” and left it at that. But then there’s also the zoo trips were getting pretty repetitive for me. To this day, I can still tell you everywhere we went. We’d go to see the polar bears, the great apes, and we’d see the bats, and then that would pretty much be it. Every so often we’d do different things but it wasn’t that often. But now we’re going on to what happened at home.

There’s a lot of great things that happened at home. I don’t know how many DSlites my Mom helped me buy because I’d accidentally break them. I think it was five. I’d save up a hundred dollars and be all excited because I was buying a DS lite. And Mom would chip in probably a hundred dollars. But then there was stuff that weren’t the best things. To put in mildly, Kait was not gentle. I don’t know how any of our plates managed to get out of that apartment. One of the things that Kaitlyn would do is just grab plates and drop them out the window onto the roof over the entrance to our building. It was usual for me to wake up to Mom and Kaitlyn yelling. I remember waking up and not even thinking why are they yelling but, how long can I stay in my bedroom for because I have to use the washroom. Honestly the best times of my childhood has to be when Kaitlyn wasn’t at the apartment (Kathleen ~ they were the best of friends until Kait was a teenager and Kait’s issues started when her Dad tried to be more involved). She was taken away by the police twice because the police thought she was a danger to me.

Dad was an entire thing all on his own. I’m sure my Mom, if she hasn’t already, could write an entire blog just on him. So he did stuff like when Kait went over her maximum phone minutes, he’d tell her things like he’d never get mad, he’d just pay the bill. And then he’d make both me and Kaitlyn get upset at Mom and then say that, don’t worry, I’ll get each of you out starting with you Kaitlyn then I’ll get Colin out. He actually brought us to an apartment and said that, if he wins, he’d move us in there. He gave up trying for custody after he learned that the government money didn’t cover all of the expenses and him. That’s when he cut communication with both me and Kaitlyn. He’d often cut communication off with us. He’d constantly just stop talking to both me and Kaitlyn randomly.

Kaitlyn moved in to the place we’re currently living. So when this was going on, I was dealing with the second high school. So I was stressed out from school and stressed that Kaitlyn was here. I was optimistic. I thought everything was going to be fine (I’ll give you a hint, it wasn’t). The biggest regret I have happened and I’ll say first. If there was one thing I could go back and change from high school I’d change this. I was dating this chick in high school. We both liked each other. Every day though, when I got home from hanging out with her, I’d hear from Kait that I should break up with her. And eventually, just to have her stop saying it, I did. I guess I should have been more strong willed but I was dealing with high school.

But she would do other things like, I paid $50 for her old smart phone. She originally said I could just have it and I didn’t have to give her any money and then she said she felt like she had to give it to me so I offered to pay her $50 for it. I left a video one because I was using the phone as a wifi antenna. I was listening to music at the time, in a playlist and Mom brought me over to Superstore and I left my phone at home. And I knew I’d left it at home because the computer kept playing videos 12 to 15 minutes after we left. I haven’t seen that phone since and Kaitlyn had been the last person in the apartment.

We had an agreement that she got the living room and we wouldn’t go in there at night. Well I’d have to wake up for school. I’d have to be outside at 8am and Kait would get upset at me because she needed to get dressed and ready to go. We gave her a large closet area to get dressed and leave, she was never meant to change in the living room. She only changed in the living room. So I was getting ready to run out the door and I would have Kaitlyn yelling at me that I needed to go back to my bedroom because she needed to change. I remember once, when this was happening, she pushed the fridge door at me, well what was I supposed to do? I pushed it back at her and she started screaming about how I’d assaulted her. So Mom was going to go out and buy ink for this printer that obviously was broken and I threw the printer on the floor because if it was broken, buying ink for it would be pointless. So I made everyone know it was broken because I wasn’t able to convince them. I threw it at my feet. Honestly I was slightly worried I was going to hit my own feet because I was that close. Kaitlyn’s boyfriend ran over and put me into the most violent hold I’ve ever been put into. And they were planning on leaving anyways so I told them to leave. Eventually they did leave but we continued arguing for an extra 10 or 15 minutes. At the time this happened I think Kaitlyn’s boyfriend was about twenty. I think he’s four years older than me.

Well that’s it for this one. Like, comment, and subscribe. See you guys on the next one. Generic YouTuber out.