The best birthday present ever…

Aka, I love my parents ūüôā

I should know my Mom by now. I get my complete inability to handle surprise situations from her. She tends to get upset and lashes out when faced with an unfamiliar situation, only to be totally fine later on.

This morning (once we buried poor Bean) we headed off to our favourite Thai restaurant for lunch with Emma. Then, following Jeremy’s counseling appointment, we headed over to my parents’ house. Emma and Jeremy went immediately upstairs to work on Jeremy’s hair. I wandered up a little while later and knocked on the door.

“Can I come in?” I asked.

“Sure. You’re good,” Emma replied.

I stepped inside and Jeremy spun to face me. He was wearing a navy blue sleeveless dress and his hair was pulled back from his face with black barrettes.

“You look very pretty,” I commented before giving him a quick hug.

“Thanks,” he replied with a smile. He spun back to the mirror and his smile grew more uncertain. “I don’t know why I look so good in women’s clothes.”

“C’mon,” Emma urged. “Let’s go put on some makeup.”

Emma loved dressing Jeremy up and trying different styles of makeup on him when they were little. This faded over the years; when I look back it was around the same time she grew more frustrated with him. I had a heartfelt talk with her a few weeks ago and¬†she tearfully told me she’d been being hard on Jeremy because she was scared of him getting bullied. She hadn’t realized how much her behaviour was hurting him.

I headed back downstairs to chat with my parents and came back up a half hour later to tell them it was dinner time. Jeremy had changed out of Emma’s dress but his shirt was sweaty so Emma had given him a tank top to wear along with a sports bra. He quickly covered them up with a plaid shirt and went to scrub his face. Most of the makeup washed away but he went downstairs wearing his sister’s shirt, mascara, and black barrettes.

My parents said nothing about his appearance. They laughed and joked with him like usual while Jeremy tried to pass his quietness off as being tired. He picked at his meal. Then came dessert. My Mom usually makes angel food cake for birthdays but there’s no way to make that vegan, so she had ice cream, sorbet, and fruit salad. Jeremy got himself a big bowl of ice cream then my Dad snuck it.

“Granddad,” Jeremy laughed. “That’s mine, give it back!”

My Dad laughed as well, wrapping his arms around the bowl. “No, it’s mine,” he insisted.

Jeremy made a feign then grabbed the bowl back and the ice was broken. Once his bowl was empty, he turned to Emma.

“Can we go back upstairs now to do my hair?” he asked. And off they went.

I was showing my parents how to download pictures from Facebook when Jeremy and Emma came downstairs. Emma had made two small braids at the front of his hair and something called a fish tail on the back.

My parents looked over.

“Your hair looks nice,” my Mom said warmly and my Dad nodded agreement. Then both kids went outside.

Nothing was said about the purple metallic nail polish on Jeremy’s toes or the pinkish-beige polish on his fingers. It was, hands down, the best birthday present ever.

One of my regrets from when Jeremy and Emma were younger was I never took pictures of Jeremy dressed in anything but boys’ clothing. I was so worried about embarrassing him when he grew up with silly pictures of his childhood; it never dawned on me that he might want them or how he’d feel about his photo-happy mother never taking those photos. Today I took a tonne.

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The Pyjama Chronicles…

We had a marvelous dinner on Friday then immediately went out pyjama shopping. I had high hopes for Superstore, apparently too high.

We entered the men’s department and there were the pjs, right in front of us. Jeremy’s scowl deepened.

“I don’t like any of those,” he stated, giving the whole rack a look of disdain.

I felt one and silently agreed. They were a rough textured cotton and fairly stiff. Shrugging, I turned around toward the ladies department.

“Where are we going?” Jeremy asked in confusion.

“The ladies department,” I replied, feeling confused as well. We’d already discussed this. “I, umm, need to look at pyjamas too.”

That set Jeremy right off. He ranted the whole time we were in there about how unfair it was that we’d gone shopping for him but were now shopping for me. I showed him a few pairs of pjs, all of which he disliked, and he continued to rant.

“We never finished looking in the men’s department,” he snapped.

I shrugged again, there wasn’t anything I could see in the ladies department. The pyjamas were also stiff, rough cotton and many were covered in gaudy flowers. Then I turned and went back to the men’s department.

I found another rack of pyjamas which Jeremy intensely disliked…

“They’re plaid Mom!” He almost turned plaid into a swear word.

… and ended up buying him a couple more t-shirts instead. We left the clothing department¬†with Jeremy still complaining about how we’d been mostly shopping¬†for me, even though it was his trip. Finally we reached a section with no customers.

“Jeremy, we talked about this on Thursday,” I said with some exasperation. “I do need a pair of pyjamas but we were mainly in there for you. That’s why I kept asking if you’d seen anything you liked.”

“Oh,” Jeremy said, looking faintly embarrassed. “No, I didn’t see anything.”

“We’re going to Wal-Mart next. If you see anything you like, you can say they’re for me.”

“Or I can say I like them for myself,” he retorted.

“Yes,” I agreed. “That works too.”

The Wal-Mart men’s department was a bust. Like Target, they didn’t actually have a pyjama section, just a handful of t-shirts and boxers. I did find a hanger with three pairs of lounge pants attached. They all were plaid. Jeremy stayed silent, but his expression spoke volumes.

Then we wandered over to the ladies department. I found a long nightie for me to wear on hot summer nights but couldn’t see anything for Jeremy at all.

“I don’t see anything for you,” Jeremy said urgently. This would have worked better if I wasn’t carrying a¬†nightie.

“I’m saying this for me,” he hissed. “I don’t see anything for me.”

“Not even that Duck Dynasty nightie,” I replied cheerfully, pointing to a rack. Jeremy snorted.

The actual successful shopping trip was anticlimactic.

I needed to head out this afternoon and asked Jeremy if he wanted to go shopping. He was busy watching a video and didn’t. I stopped by¬†Target and¬†discovered their ladies nightwear¬†section is huge. Most of the pjs were cotton but I found a pair that were soft and navy blue. I immediately snatched them up.

The best part? They were $16.99 on the rack and rang in at $5.07! I might just pick him up another pair. The only thing that would make them better is if they came in purple.

Radioactive and other random stuff…

I’ve spent the past two weeks organizing a dinner for after work tomorrow. Jeremy’s meeting us there and is thrilled because it’s his favourite restaurant. It’s mine too, as well as several of my coworkers; the food is so addictively good I joke they put crack in it.

Afterward, Jeremy and I are heading to Superstore to buy him at least one new pair of pyjamas. His only pair that¬†are¬†even remotely wearable are the silky¬†pants I gave him. The rest are either way too small or look like the losing end of a fight with a weed whacker. It’s not like I never noticed, I’ve brought him into the pyjama section a couple of times over the past few months and each time he’s barely given them a glance. He wasn’t interested. I don’t think we got close enough to the shelf to riffle through for sizes. We certainly never got anywhere near trying any on.

I figured bringing the shopping trip up in advance might help avoid any surprises and misunderstandings in the store. Jeremy had been horrified when I suggested he get¬†coloured jeans and yelled at me in the middle of Superstore this winter (only to quietly walk back later and pick them up on the way to the cash register). I figured suggesting checking out the women’s pyjama section might get a bit more reaction if it was sprung on him suddenly in public. My ears could not handle more of a reaction.

I got my chance as we were walking across the bare (and quiet) lawn to his counselling appointment.

“We’re going pyjama shopping tomorrow after dinner,” I began and Jeremy nodded.

Phew, I was more than half worried he was going to insist he didn’t want any, holding out for that¬†$50 mail order pair of TARDIS footie pjs from the BBC shop. The sizing is much too vague for mail order.

“I was thinking we’d go to the men’s department first to look and, if they didn’t have anything you liked, we could check out the women’s department. I want to get your idea of what we should do.”

“Pick up a dress, underwear, and makeup,” Jeremy immediately replied. I was reasonably sure he was joking but deadpan humour always confuses me.

“I don’t have the budget for a new wardrobe,” I pointed out. “I’ve got a dress in my closet I never wear that you can have if you want. Does this mean we’ll wing it with shopping tomorrow?”

He agreed that winging it sounded fine and we headed in for his counselling session. What Jeremy doesn’t know is I looked up the pyjamas online. The pair I gave him is from Superstore and they have several similar pairs available, while the men’s department seems to be mainly cotton plaid. I have no idea which Jeremy will prefer. He continually surprises me.

We bounced, laughing, onto the bus after his session and tumbled into our seats.

“Did the driver just call you ma’am?” I asked once we were seated. Jeremy shrugged.

“Yes, he did,” Jeremy informed me as we left; the driver’s “goodbye ma’am oops” trailing along behind us.

“Does getting called ma’am bother you?”

“No,” Jeremy replied.

I don’t know when I’ll have an update on the letter to his teacher that I wrote yesterday. Jeremy accidentally forgot it at home today in his rush to collect his electronics, so it’s still sitting beside the computer.

His electronics¬†consist of speakers (which he took from a broken TV then did something to in order to get them to work), various cords, and his DS (to play music). He took it all¬†with us this evening too and played music the whole time we¬†were¬†outside. Most of the time, he¬†played¬†Radioactive, as sung by Pentatonix and Lindsay Stirling. This wasn’t a surprise; I’m reasonably sure he’s played it at least 200 times since I bought it last month. Best dollar-something I’ve ever spent.

I also promised him I’d¬†share it here because¬†it’s a great song:

A letter for Jeremy’s teacher, part two…

Jeremy called me into his room after he got home from his LGBTQ youth group last night. He was wearing an old pair of pyjama bottoms while brewing himself some tea. Jeremy tends to make tea when he’s worried. He was brewing himself eight cups; that’s a lot of worry.

“What’s with the pjs?” I asked. They were at least two sizes too small and flannel. He shrugged.

“They’re not that bad,” he replied. “I can sit in them and the front thing’s not too…” His voice trailed off. I looked to the side and noticed his silky pjs neatly folded on his footstool.

“Do these not fit?” I asked. “I can take them back if you don’t like them.”

“No,” he blurted. “They fit. I’m just saving them. You know, for special occasions like if I’m going out somewhere.”

“So, you’re saving cross dressing for when you go out instead of in the comfort of your own home,” I commented drily.

Jeremy laughed then walked over to his wicker shelves. “Tea,” he mused. “I should make lemon or maybe green.” He glanced at the huge pot of water. “Or both.”

Then he turned back. “Mom, can you talk to the teacher about the words?”

Well, he lost me there. “Umm… what words?”

“You know…”

I stared at him blankly. I had no freaking idea what he was talking about. Meanwhile he looked frustrated.

“The words,” he repeated. “When you talk about someone. The words you use.”

Okay we were getting closer to a clue. “You mean pronouns?” I guessed.

“Yes,” he agreed. “Those things. The teacher only uses him and her and it’s making me uncomfortable. Can you write her a letter?” He looked away. “I can’t talk to her.”

“Okay,” I replied. It only took me a few seconds to decide. My first thought was he should speak to her but this was wildly unlike Jeremy. He’s usually very blunt about¬†saying what he feels. He looked back and smiled.

“Can you give me some context?” I asked. “Is she teaching you about pronouns?”

He nodded. “Can you tell her the other pronouns?” He paused then added, “What are the other pronouns?”

It wasn’t like I hadn’t mentioned them before but… “There’s a few pronouns like they-”

“For more than one person,” he interrupted.

“Well usually,” I agreed. “But sometimes if someone doesn’t identify with one gender they’ll use they. Or zie…”

“Trans* people use that,” he said.

“Umm some do,” I agree. He looked at me expectantly and I gave an internal sigh. It was just over¬†a half hour after I was supposed to go to bed. I could squeeze in a lesson on gender.

“Gender’s a spectrum…” I began. He listened intently as I spoke although none of what I said was new; I’d said it all before.

“Why are you wanting her to use more pronouns?” I asked, mainly because I knew the teacher would ask me.

“For the other kids,” he said hastily. “Just because…” His voice trailed off again as if he couldn’t think of a reason.

I wondered if this was Jeremy’s version of “I’m asking for a friend” and kept my mouth shut.

“I’ll write the letter,” I promised. “But it’ll have to be tomorrow because it’s late and I need to go to bed now.”

He held his arms out for a hug.

“Sweet dreams sunshine. Love you,” I said. I gave him a hug and kiss then went to get ready for bed. By the time I finished, he was already in his silky pyjamas.

This is the letter:

Dear Ms. Teacher,

It’s come to my attention that you were teaching pronouns in class, presumably during a language lesson. Jeremy was uncomfortable and wanted me to ask you to use more pronouns such as they and zie. If you wish to discuss this further, please feel free to call me at [phone number] or message me via [email address]. I’m off work at [time].

Thank you,
Michelle

This is my 100th post on this blog which means, since I’ve only been posting for just under half a year, that I write a lot.

Let the parents decide…

I’ll admit I don’t see much in the way of news, but even my rock gets internet so I have seen some; including a few articles on Michael Sam (and the brief kiss that’s apparently going to last forever). One comment I’ve seen a few times is that “Reporters/newscasters/media should let parents decide when to discuss certain topics with their kids instead of springing it on them in the news.”

What parent¬†really¬†believes life waits for them to decide when to have these conversations? Really? C’mon, you’d think that ship would have sailed when your toddler wanted to know why Daddy has a penis. At the dinner table. With guests over.

Or am I the only lucky one to have conversations like this?

I don’t remember having a discussion about¬†same sex relationships although I’m assuming we had one. It probably came up very early as I’ve got close friends who are both male and have been together since Colin was born. Apparently the conversation wasn’t memorable. I can’t say the same about our conversation on cross dressing.

It all started on a lovely summer’s trip to the park. I got the kids fed and toileted, slathered them in sunscreen, collected a handful of toys, and set out. We were almost there when a person¬†approached us. They¬†were tall, at least 6ft, and looked even taller in stilettos. Despite it being barely after lunch, they were all dressed up for a night on the town. Make up, styled hair, evening gown… they were¬†ready to go. And, just to make the experience even more interesting, the person¬†wanted directions to the local jail where their¬†boyfriend was waiting for a visit. I’ve found that when life hands us an experience, it goes all out.

I assured the person they were on the right road to get to the local jail and it was no more than a ten minute walk away, then agreed that it must stink to have their boyfriend behind bars. The whole time both kids stared up wide eyed.

They watched the person¬†walk away (a lot more gracefully than I would in heels) then Kait turned to me and said, “Mommy, why is that man wearing a dress?”

The people who complain about how the news took away their right to plan for a conversation seem to think life gives you hours to come up with some suitable answer; in reality it gives you a handful of seconds.

My answer was, “Because he wants to”. Those four little words answered Kait’s question entirely.

I was in the car with my Mom and Kait last week and somehow the conversation came to that trip to the park. I got to the end of the story and my Mom piped up…

“You could have just said he was weird.”

“No I couldn’t,” I replied. There was a long pause.

“No,” my Mom said thoughtfully. “I guess you wouldn’t.”

Fighting back nerves…

All this week I figured I’d write a post today about how I’m sending my almost 17 year old son on a trip to another province, via a road trip with a total stranger and four other teens from a different congregation, and why I wasn’t worried at all. I lied (to myself at least).

Jeremy’s going to CanUUdle tomorrow, the Canadian Unitarian Universalist youth conference, and I’m having a quiet freak out in my room.

Jeremy is looking forward to the holiday, other than the six¬†hour car ride. *Cough* I might have told him it was four or five. I gave him his Doctor Who towel early because they’re going swimming on Sunday and I’m lending him my camera (and hoping he’ll actually use it).

We got a 14 page information package to read, which details what they’re doing this weekend. It includes this statement:¬†Anyone who feels that his/her/ze‚Äôs time as a youth is coming to an end in the near future can participate in the bridging ceremony. That sentence, among others, should make me more comfortable and it has to a point.

But now reality is setting in. I looked at Jeremy’s pyjamas a few days ago and they were¬†really bad; I’m talking they looked like the losing end of a fight with a weed whacker. In frustration I gave him a pair of my own pj bottoms that are way too long on me. I figured he’d wear them around the apartment¬†and we’d buy a new pair for the youth trip. We already had a pj shopping trip planned for tonight. He tried them on and modeled them for me. They fit perfectly. Minutes later he was back in his old pyjamas.

“What? You didn’t like them?” I asked.

He looked at me in surprise. “No, I liked them,” he replied. “I’m saving them for the youth trip.”

Those pj bottoms are not unisex. They’re teal blue and made out of a silky material. There’s no way they came out of the men’s department anywhere.

“The youth trip,” I repeated faintly.

“Yes,” he agreed. “I’m going to need pyjamas and these will be perfect. Don’t they have a top?”

I pulled the top out and he tried it on then laughed hysterically.

“These actually fit my breasts,” he said gesturing to the built in bra. “What do women with actual breasts do?”

“Not fit it,” I said dryly. “There’s a couple of reasons why I never wear that top.”

He laughed and pulled it off. “It’s not very comfortable,” he commented.

“And that would be the¬†other reason,” I replied, sticking it back into the drawer.

We went out today and bought a soft teal blue t-shirt.

“I don’t normally wear a shirt to bed,” Jeremy complained.

“You’re going to be sleeping in a large group,” I pointed out. “You’ll need one.” He grudgingly agreed.

So, my son with the long purple hair will be heading off tomorrow to sleep in a large group of teenagers while wearing ladies sleepwear. Right now he’s cheerfully buying and downloading Doctor Who videos for the car ride. Meanwhile I’m going to sit in the corner and breathe into a paper bag.