Thank you Dad…

Thank you for horsey rides and piggy back rides
Thank you for around the world kisses
Thanks for teaching me how to ride a bike and to stand and pedal
Thank you for family bike rides
Thank you for sharing chips with malt vinegar
Thank you for letting me ride in the truck with you to the Motorola picnic
Thank you for teaching me how to skate. I might skate like a hockey player but I skate.
Thanks for our cat Spotty
Thank you for toboggan rides
Thank you for scratchy kisses
Thank you for swinging with us, even if the swing broke once (darn cheap swing)
Thank you for letting us put barrettes in your hair, you looked so pretty at the gas station
Thanks for walking with us on Hallowe’en
Thank you for the camping trips
Thank you for explaining glaciers and why bedrock has scratches in it
Thank you for campfires
Thank you for barbecue dinners
Thank you for your motor-sickle song
Thank you for nights watching tv in the bunny hole
Thank you for taking us to work with you
Thank you for teaching me how to dance
Thank you for listening
Thank you for teaching my kids how to ride a bike
Thank you for being there for us
I love you Dad

Happy Father’s Day

Dad and I

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The good stuff…

Jeremy loves Minecraft and plays it regularly but zie never plays on servers. Zir favourite thing in Minecraft is designing houses; huge homes with floor to ceiling windows, giant kitchens, and roof top views of the ocean. People take great delight in destroying Jeremy’s houses when zie plays online, which is why zie plays single player on our computer. Now Jeremy belongs to a private server* made solely for trans youths and, for the first time, Jeremy and zir house have been safe.

I wasn't kidding when I said huge.

Jeremy’s house. I wasn’t kidding when I said it was huge.

kitchen

I think this is the smallest kitchen Jeremy’s made. Zie has at least a hundred mods downloaded to our desktop and zir kitchen usually has chandeliers. clocks, granite counter tops, polished wood tables, and double sinks. I’m guessing zir mods don’t work on the server. Zir second kitchen looked similar to this except it was underground.

ocean view

And, as always, zie has a gorgeous ocean view. Jeremy’s next development will be an ocean side pool.

town view

And zir view of the town, complete with not only the trans pride flag but a house with a pride flag window.

I am so glad Jeremy’s been able to join this server. Zie’s not only enjoying designing zir house, zie’s also been taking great pleasure in creating a shared mine and a chest full of freebies to give away to the other youths. Meanwhile I’m grateful to the person who put the time and effort into creating this server as it’s often Jeremy’s only social interaction.

This weekend was different though. This weekend Jeremy went to CLUUE, a Unitarian Universalist Youth event based around the murder mystery game Clue. Zie was overwhelmed at first as there were 51 youths (Jeremy was expecting around 10 to 15) but once the popcorn came out, zie relaxed and was fine. It helps that the UU gatherings ask for preferred pronouns and have multi-gender sleeping arrangements. Jeremy headed off with zir black sparkly pjs, a floral pillowcase and no worries.

And this Thursday is our monthly PFLAG meeting so zie’ll get to spend a full hour with other trans youths 🙂 I get to hang out with other parents too. Plus there’ll be pizza and pop which is a huge sell for a teenager.

I have no real news about my Dad. He was discharged from the hospital on Friday evening then was admitted again last night. The doctors are reasonably sure he has some sort of infection although multiple tests can’t find it. He’s on six different antibiotics ranging from broad spectrum ones to ones targeted specifically for things like lung infections and c diff (which thankfully came back negative). He is doing a lot better now and hopefully will continue to improve.

 

* This server is only available for youths whose parents belong to the Parents of Transgender Children support group. If you wish for your child to be a member of this server, you can request admittance once you belong to the parenting group. A link to the parenting group can be found on my resource page.

Valentine’s Day…

presents

I woke on Valentine’s Day to a wrapped present from Emma, neatly tied with my favourite colour ribbon (iridescent) and taped with Emma’s favourite tape (skulls). She gave me a new journal to write in and a gift card for Chapters-Indigo (Canada’s biggest bookstore… damn, I can’t write that without thinking of the World’s Biggest Bookstore, which no longer exists). She also baked cupcakes, including a bright purple one for Jeremy. As you can tell by zir face, zie found it to be delicious.

I baked cupcakes too and found the world’s easiest vegan cake recipe ever. Seriously, it’s one box of white cake mix (check the ingredients for milk) and 12oz of 7-Up. Combine those two ingredients and whisk them together. That’s it. It was seriously yummy, tasting a lot like angel food cake. I might or might not have eaten most of the cupcakes on my own plus licked out the bowl.

There is absolutely no news about my Dad. He got discharged last night because he was doing so much better then went back to the hospital this morning via ambulance. Beyond that we have no idea. He’s suffering from fever, dehydration, low blood pressure, exhaustion, and confusion – obviously something’s going on. Meanwhile his blood and urine cultures are clear and nothing showed up on his CT scan. His heart test (EKG maybe?) was clear as well. He’s doing just good enough to stay out of the ICU so they’re keeping him in the emergency room, which provides more attention. I’m supposed to be singing with my UU choir right now but my heart is just not in a singing mood right now so I’m going to watch Doctor Who with Jeremy instead.

I had enough batter left over to make a single layer heart shaped cake. I figure the two of us are going to decimate it tonight.

Falling stars…

When I was a little girl my Dad was the strongest man on earth and the tallest one too. He’d take my sisters and I for swing rides and taught us how to ride bikes, swim, and skate. All three of us skated like hockey players because that’s how Dad learned. He showed us grooves in the solid rock underneath us while hiking, explaining how that rock was scraped by a glacier thousands of years earlier. And he was always willing to give piggy backs and airplane rides.

Every car ride with my Dad would catch him singing, “Me and my motor-sicle” because he wanted a motorcycle, which was totally impractical for a family with three kids. When he spoke, knives never had a silent “k”, same with scissors and its “c”. One time my parents were visiting friends in England and were taken to a fancy restaurant, the kind where waiters roam the hall in tuxedos while offering guests items on silver platters. One such waiter approached Dad.

“Sir? Would you care to take a leek?”

“Why yes,” Dad cheerfully replied. “Could you tell me where the little boy’s room is?”

And he routinely claimed to be perfect, often while singing “Oh lord it’s hard to be humble…

In elementary school I had to write an essay about my hero. I wrote about my Dad and how he got a call to try out for the farm team for the Montreal Canadiens except he’d hitch-hiked across Canada and was busy fighting forest fires in BC at the time. Dad’s lived an interesting life.

I was heading off to college when Dad decided to start his own business, showing us it’s never to late to chase your dreams. My Mom organized a combined surprise birthday and retirement party for his 60th birthday and invited all his friends, figuring we’d end up with a reasonable amount of guests. Every single person happily accepted the invitation, meaning we had seventy people stuffed inside a four bedroom suburban home. It was beyond crowded. Dad loved it. Somewhere I’ve got a picture of Jeremy wandering around the party with a lampshade on zir head, showing zie’s definitely related to zir grandfather.

Dad immediately began volunteering with Meals on Wheels, driving a small community bus, and transporting seniors to medical appointments. Even so he had more time than he knew what to do with. Karen lived two towns away back then. She’d be busy with her toddlers only to find Dad at the front door. He’d gotten bored and biked over. Could he get a drive home? Finally he got a full time job driving a school bus, which cut back on his biking time (and dramatically cut down on Karen’s impromptu taxi service).

This Christmas was quiet as my parents took a train across Canada to spend the holiday with Amy and her family. They had a good visit but Dad started feeling bad while he was there and his Crohns was upgraded to severe once he got home. He’s since been put on steroids and an anti-rejection drug usually given to organ transplant recipients.

Dad’s 71st birthday was on February 1st, a date he eagerly looked forward to…

calendar

Emma, Jeremy, Mark and I all showed up for dinner as did Karen and her family. Dad picked out angel food cupcakes for his cake and happily opened up all his presents. We left as he settled in to watch football. He was tired and sore but otherwise fine.

Then came yesterday. I called Mom to let her know I’d hurt my wrist at work and was going to see a doctor, half hoping she’d volunteer to drive me home. She worriedly informed me that Dad was feverish and exhausted. He had a doctor’s appointment that afternoon, which relieved me as I strongly felt he needed to get checked out. Karen stopped by and convinced Mom to take him to the hospital. It took both of them to get him into the car. He was discharged several hours later with nothing wrong but “mild dehydration”.

I got off work today to find a message from Karen saying Dad’s in the hospital. Once again he was feverish, exhausted, and incoherent. This time Mom called an ambulance and he was rushed to the hospital where blood tests show no infection. The doctor on call was all set to release him again when my Mom asked what she should do tonight when he wakes up feverish and delirious. This prompted another meeting. Thankfully Dad’s gastroenterologist stepped in and had him admitted. Now we wait for more tests and some different medications.

And now I sit here wondering when my Dad stopped singing.

How to Dad…

When Jeremy was small, people would ask him what he wanted to be when he grew up and his answer was always the same, “I want to be a Daddy.” But over the years that answer slowly faded.

A couple of weeks ago Jeremy told Emma that he felt mostly male with a bit of female but if he’d had the choice he would have been born a girl. Two days ago I asked him why there was such a difference between his two statements. If he felt mostly male then why did he wish he’d been born a girl?

“I want to be a parent when I grow up but I want my kids to love me and look up to me,” he replied. “Kids don’t really respect their Dads. They love and look up to their Moms so I’d rather be a Mom.”

If I could go back in time and pick a better father for my kids I would. But then again I wouldn’t have Jeremy or Emma.

“Hon, all sorts of kids love their Dads and think they’re wonderful,” I assured him. “You’ll be a good parent and your kids will look up to you.”

He nodded but he didn’t look convinced. My Dad’s a great father but Jeremy hasn’t seen much of him in years and, while Jeremy looks up to my friends P and M, they’re not fathers. Jeremy’s only real parental role model is me and I’m not male. I’d thought I’d told him over the years that mothers and fathers are equal but I either didn’t or Jeremy wasn’t listening (or a mixture of the two).

If Jeremy wanted to be a mother because he felt female that would be one thing but wanting to be a mother because he feels Dads aren’t good enough… well that was heart breaking.

Then came yesterday. A friend of mine posted a Cheerios video on Facebook, saying it was finally a decent media portrayal of a father, so I immediately watched then called Jeremy in before I even finished so he could watch it too.

The video is beyond cheesy. The Dad does a non-stop narration on being a father, while complimenting and high-fiving his kids. The kids meanwhile follow him around while pretty much hero worshiping him. And at the end, apropos of nothing, he suddenly starts flogging peanut butter Cheerios. Jeremy loved the whole thing…

Obviously one video isn’t going to be a cure-all for Jeremy’s views on fatherhood but it was nice to have some back up to my claim. I also picked up peanut butter Cheerios on the way home from work today.

And, because I’m on Facebook all the freaking time anyways, I’ve now made a Because I’m Fabulous Facebook page. Feel free to go and like. Or, if you’re too shy, just go and look. I’ve got extra pictures and quotes and stuff.

Jeremy’s father…

Tomorrow is Jeremy’s birthday, which makes me introspective at the best of times. It’s a day to marvel at how much he’s grown.

Then I went onto Facebook and discovered a new Raising my Rainbow post titled This Is How A Father Should Love. I read it and cried. I am so happy for both CJ and Chase that they have such an incredible father, I just wish I could say the same for Jeremy and Emma. My introspection suddenly had a new focus.

There’s a lot I could say about my marriage but I won’t go into that much detail. The first couple of years (that honeymoon stage) were pretty good and by the time my ex started showing his true colours of emotional abuse, manipulation, and chronic lying, we had two young children. I couldn’t raise the kids thinking this was normal behaviour so I left him.

Emma is his darling daughter, his precious girl and Jeremy seems to be his afterthought. We separated permanently when Jeremy was three years old and it was soon apparent that my ex treated them differently. Often they weren’t even out of the yard before he was threatening to send Jeremy home for “misbehaving”. I’ve seen him yell at Jeremy because he’d ran out the door yelling “Daddy! I missed you!” He didn’t consider that bad behaviour if Emma did the same.

Jeremy’s birthday is two months ahead of Emma’s. I’ve lost track of the number of times their Dad has stopped by in August with Emma’s birthday present then paused and said, “Oh wait. Didn’t Jeremy have a birthday in June?” He figured Jeremy would never notice. Jeremy,  the kid who starts planning his birthday six months in advance.

Then there was the time I got a phone call from Children’s Aid over a tickle-fight incident their Dad witnessed (while they were four hours away on a family visit); one where Jeremy’s mouth accidentally grazed Emma’s chest while they were tumbling on the ground. Jeremy immediately apologized but that wasn’t good enough. His Dad told him that he was a bad boy who was going to get sent to jail forever and he’d never see his family again. He then called Children’s Aid on Jeremy, claiming he was a sexual deviant who needed intensive therapy. Jeremy doesn’t know about that part and I’m hoping he’s forgotten the things his Dad said. Jeremy was CJ’s age at the time. I think that’s what made me cry the most when I read the post. He’d only turned seven the month before.

Their Dad also took me to court to try for custody of Emma. He didn’t file for Jeremy. He also didn’t win his case. The following year was when he made that big scene over Emma’s clothes (the one I mentioned in the modesty post). I think that’s what shocked Emma the most, that her father who always acted like she was perfect had suddenly reacted like this. Sadly, if he’d treated Jeremy the same way, it would have been just another visit.

We moved two years ago and, at the time their Dad lived a five minute drive away. Jeremy was so excited; he figured this was his chance to finally get close to his father. I watched as two visits fizzled then Jeremy called his father and arranged a visit. They were to meet at the convenience store half a block away from where his Dad lived. Jeremy was going to bike over all by himself. This was a day I was scheduled to work. I called Jeremy twice while I was on the floor then got asked if I wanted to go four hours early. My paycheque didn’t want me to leave but I said yes. I called while I was on the bus and Jeremy told me he’d been waiting for his Dad for almost an hour, just sitting on a street corner by himself.

“Have you talked to your Dad today?”

“No. He’s not answering his phone.”

Ex has a cell phone that might as well be another appendage. My heart twisted.

“Oh Jeremy, just bike home,” I sighed. “I’m on the bus and I’ll be there soon.”

Jeremy never called his Dad again. I don’t think my ex has even noticed.

Jeremy saw his Dad for an hour about a week ago, his first visit since sometime last fall. I told Jeremy when he’d need to catch the last bus that drives by our home then called to remind him to go to the bus stop. I got a call from Jeremy twenty minutes later.

“Mom. I missed the last bus and I don’t know what to do. Dad said there’s another bus and kind of pointed but I don’t know which bus or where to go and he’s gone now.”

Yes, his father brought his autistic son (who reads at a grade three level) to a busy street corner in a rough neighbourhood, gestured vaguely west, said “go that way”, then left him there. I have never been so happy for Google Maps before in my life. I had Jeremy slowly read out the nearest road signs then keyed them in to find out where he was. Then, since Jeremy has a very poor sense of direction, I had him read out the next intersection to make sure he was going the right direction. He made it home just fine. I figure I earned another double handful of grey hairs.

Of course there are the positives. Jeremy and I went out for dinner with my coworkers almost two weeks ago. I got off work early so we hung out in my parents’ backyard for the afternoon. We were almost late for the dinner I’d organized because I didn’t want to leave; Jeremy and my Dad were laughing and chatting up a storm. And I got a phone call from my friend P a couple of days ago. We talked for two minutes.

“Michelle? Is Jeremy there?”

I handed the phone over to Jeremy then finished my dinner and went to my room. They talked for a half hour. Then P got on the phone with me to say goodbye. P’s the one who taught Jeremy how to put his face under the water and to jump into the deep end of the pool. P’s also the one who sat down with Jeremy for a couple of hours to explain circuits (while his husband M and I watched a movie and played cards).

The good news is, Jeremy has men in his life who think he’s a great kid and fun to be around. The bad news is I don’t think his Dad will ever be one of them.