My heart is heavy…

So far today I’ve had one friend say that, as a white woman, Heather Heyer’s death was the least she could do for the cause and another friend freely admit she has no sympathy a man who got mistaken for a Nazi and stabbed in the hand. After all, if men did more before, we wouldn’t be facing Nazi’s now.

I look at Heather Heyer and see someone who was similar to many of my friends. Passionate about her causes and devoted to beliefs, she had strong values and was considered a sweet and kind soul. Dying wasn’t the least she could do, it was the most. She gave up her life. You can’t do anything more after you’re dead.

I don’t know anything about the man who got stabbed. He could be on the verge of being nominated for sainthood or the closest thing to a Nazi. Chances are he’s somewhere in between. The part that matters is his innocence. Someone screwed up and stabbed the wrong person. He deserves our sympathy for that.

My friends are all caught up with punching Nazis in the face and proclaiming that if you don’t then you’re a sympathizer. Which I guess makes both Gandhi and Nelson Mandela sympathizers because I can’t see them walking around punching people in the face, no matter who they are.

I’m not interested in punching Nazis in the face. I think it’s ineffective and will ultimately lead to more violence. But that doesn’t make me a sympathizer and I’m furious with the black and white thinking that assumes I must be. Personally, I prefer the glitter bomb method or spraying them with non removable dye. Let them show up for work looking like a disco ball or like they shoplifted a shirt from the local mall. Keep them from hiding in the crowd.

Emma came up to me earlier and said New Jersey had declared antifa an extremist anarchist group. I shushed her and told her it was nothing more than a liberal group, formed to fight Nazis. Now I’m worried about the path it’s going and I’m worried where it’s taking my friends.

The near birthday fiasco…

I’d say it started yesterday but it really started just over a month ago when my ex-husband had his birthday. Ever since we separated he’s insisted he wants no birthday celebration at all. No calls… no cards… no presents. He doesn’t want to remember he’s ageing, leave him alone. Then, after the date, he’s mad because no one remembered his birthday. General cognition and cause and effect are not his strong suits.

This time he decided to get back at Emma for not calling. Never mind Emma never calls anyone. Never mind she’s having problems with her phone. Never mind she doesn’t keep track of dates. He was mad and he was retaliating. So he called Kait and told her he was going to deliberately misgender “Colin” in a birthday Facebook wish to get back at her. A) because that’s what loving and kind Fathers do and B) because there was no way posting his ignorance on Facebook could blow back at him…

exbirthdaywish

Emma knew just what to say

The first thing that confused James was absolutely no one wanted to here his side on why he’s misgendering his own child. So he explained anyway…

exbirthdaybirthcertificate

Then my friend Robin told him to step on a Lego and he literally took that to be a death threat…

exbirthdayfreehugs

And my friend ran with the Lego death threat. Because we all know how deadly a block of lego is when you step on it…

exbirthdaylegodeath

It’s funny in some ways but this is a grown man, Emma’s father, on her Facebook page the night before her birthday. And here is when he really started showing his true colours. First by using gay as an insult, then his above comment about not supporting “lgbt crap”, and finally by deciding Robin must be trans and referring to her as “it” and that “trans freak”. Along with this…

exbirthdaystraight

Kait finally had enough of him, after being on the brink for months, and blocked him…

exbirthdayrainbow

… and her post whooshed right over his head

Then it just got plain pathetic…

exbirthdayend

My ex and I talked a lot about being parents, when we were young and engaged, and how we wanted to raise our kids. He wanted to be a hands on Dad, something he hadn’t much experience with (as much as he loved his father). It’s like he set out to do the exact opposite.

I almost never mention my ex-husband on the blog and this thread is exactly why. He’s a living train wreck of a man, a person who lives solely to tear down other people.

Today is Emma’s birthday. She played Undertale before school while I watched then we went out for dinner with her Nana (mmm… potato curry), and now she’s heading out to Value Village to look for computer parts and/or a phone… as happy as can be. Then she’s having birthday pudding, since she decided it was too hot for cake. There was no mention of her Dad, he’s a non-existent part of her life and, sadly, that’s how it should be with him.

Emma and her new purse

Emma with her new purse and sucker

Jeremy’s first concert…

You know what they say about the best laid plans…

I had everything all planned. Jeremy was freshly showered and zir outfit was waiting on zir dresser, as far away from the cats as I could manage (while still keeping it in the apartment). My morning schedule was going to be hectic; involving shopping, getting cash-back for laundry money, hitting the gym while the laundry washed, then going upstairs for a shower. But it was doable and would leave us enough time to paint nails, put on makeup, etc before heading out for an early dinner.

My first sign of trouble was the odd sort of gurgle our toilet gave when I flushed. The slight trickle of water when I went to wash my hands was my second. I called the superintendent and was informed the water was off until 5pm. No shower… no laundry… and no gym either (unless I wanted to go to the concert smelling like a warthog in August).

I’ve lost just over ten pounds since January (and three inches around my waist) which leaves me with exactly one pair of pants that fit. They were at the bottom of my laundry basket. Emma lent me some clothes and was subsequently alarmed by the result; she kept saying it looked good but wasn’t a “Mom outfit”…

Michelle's outfitI figure the experience was good for her; I’m not just a Mom. Plus the outfit looked great with my sparkly shoes…

my sparkly shoes

Then Jeremy came out of zir room in stained track pants and an old grey t-shirt. The legs of zir good pants “felt funny” rubbing against zir leg hairs. Emma suggested skin cream and I suggested shaving (since Jeremy shaved zir legs consistently until last fall) but Jeremy insisted neither option would work. Jeremy’s autistic and it grew quickly apparent zie was heading straight for a meltdown. We live only a block away from Value Village and while we didn’t have time to shop, having Jeremy attend the concert naked wasn’t an option. We walked out the door less than an hour before we had to leave for the concert. My plans for the day were completely blown.

Like usual Jeremy headed straight for the men’s department, where zie did a quick visual scan of the area and found nothing. Not that anything can be found while speed walking and scowling. Then we headed over to the ladies department where we immediately found two pairs of pants and six purple shirts… and thankfully an assortment of shoppers who smiled at Jeremy as we wandered through the racks. The jeans were only a bit too big  and the shirt fit perfectly…

Jeremy found wifi

We were walking into the back door of our building as Emma’s boyfriend Mark pulled into the front parking lot. Jeremy quickly changed and we went running back out, forgetting Emma’s cigarettes in our rush. My original plan was to be at The Old Spaghetti Factory by 4pm, instead we were stuck in traffic somewhere on our way to Mississauga, the correct turn off slowly fading in the distance. We were later than I planned but thankfully early enough to actually eat.

This was Mark’s first time at The Old Spaghetti Factory. He was surprised by the antique carousel we were seated beside…

Old Spaghetti Factory view from table

… then I took him to see the stained glass mural of the Toronto Blue Jays…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Jeremy hurried over to join us and I overheard one boy ask, “Is that a boy or a girl?” I don’t think Jeremy heard him though and we left right away so I have no idea what anyone said in response. Hopefully an adult said something positive. Hopefully. It wasn’t me this time. I wasn’t letting anything spoil Jeremy’s night out.

We all plowed through dinner. I even paid while we ate in the hopes of speeding things up a bit. Poor Jeremy was disappointed we were going to leave before our ice cream but I promised we’d stay for ice cream on zir birthday and we’d eat in the antique elevator (much to zir delight).

Emma and Mark dropped us off in the lineup before leaving to get a replacement package of cigarettes. Emma figured it would be fine because the line was long…

This doesn't show the back and forth line in front of the theatre.

This doesn’t show the zig-zagging line in front of the theatre.

…and the doors weren’t opening for another 20 minutes anyway. I texted her several times to say the line was moving and to hurry. The last time was to say we’d just gone through security. That was when they arrived. Emma was able to reach over the fence to get their tickets at least (with the help of a security guard). I watched them go to the back of the line and hoped they wouldn’t be too far from the stage.

This theatre was unlike any I’d ever been to. We walked into a huge open room which, judging by the wooden floor, was built for dances and not concerts. A stage had been set up at the far end and the room was already crowded, even though the line behind us was bigger than the one in the picture above. The room was as packed as a delayed bus at rush hour. I couldn’t pull my cellphone out of my pocket without pulling the hair of the girl in front of me (my apologies if that’s why she moved). It didn’t take long for Jeremy to realize the VIP space above us had actual seats.

“Wait,” he blurted. “You have to pay extra for seats now? What are they going to do next, charge us for oxygen?”

The lady beside us started laughing.

We waited for an hour and a half, listening to canned music and sweating. Jeremy at least had zir electronics to fiddle with, which kept zir quiet and calm…

Jeremy waiting for Pentatonix

And then the concert started. The group was amazing and we were close enough to the front for me to get some good shots…

Pentatonix3

In the interest of not loading each one separately.

A quick photo montage in the interest of not loading each one separately.

I love having optical zoom on my camera, especially since my usual view of the stage looked like this…

Cellphones... everywhere...

Cellphones… everywhere…

Once the long haired girl left, I ended up behind a young man who I figure might possibly be Mitch‘s biggest fan. He was so excited when the show started and yelled “I love you Mitch!” regularly while making heart shapes…

Mitch's biggest fan

… it was really sweet 🙂

Poor Jeremy found the outright screaming overwhelming but otherwise enjoyed the concert. I think what impressed zir the most was the bathroom attendant.

“Mom, they’re paying someone to sit inside the washroom and hand us paper towels. Can I give him a tip?”

Zie listened to Pentatonix the whole way home.

Our view as we left the theatre.

Our view as we left the theatre.

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.

I’m going to need a crowbar and forklift…

Jeremy went to school willingly on Monday, which not only floored me but surprised all my coworkers. I was thrilled with this… until I came home. I’d barely walked in the front door when Jeremy informed me zie’d gotten so fed up with being misgendered, zie started calling the teacher and EAs “he” and “him” to see how they’d like it. It turns out they didn’t like it at all.

One EA told Jeremy that she didn’t mind at all, her voice dripping with sarcasm. Zir teacher complained that she was promised zie wouldn’t make a scene if they forgot the right pronouns. Jeremy informed her that was supposed to be an occasional lapse, not non-stop for half a year. The teacher then went on to complain about Jeremy’s rudeness and told zir that she was going to write a letter to me about it. Then she sent zir out of the classroom ten minutes early sans letter. I figure she had second thoughts about writing me an angry note about being misgendered. Good choice on her part because I’d have either laughed hysterically or put that letter someplace letters should never go.

The irony of the whole situation is that Jeremy figures zie used the wrong pronouns for about five minutes.

I half joked on Facebook a few days ago that I was going to need a crowbar and forklift to get Jeremy out to school today. I could have used them because zie didn’t go. Jeremy was positive they were going to be mean to zir, which made zir anxious. Jeremy uses electronics to calm down, meanwhile they’re constantly fighting zir on having “gadgets” in the classroom.

There’s a meeting with the school board tomorrow night called Families Engaged, where they want to hear from LGBTQ families (either LGBTQ parents with children in the school board or parents with LGBTQ children). Emma and I are going and I’ll be sharing what’s happening with Jeremy. I also have a meeting with zir school on Tuesday. Jeremy’s not back in school until Wednesday so hopefully we can get something sorted out before zie returns; although considering my track record with this school I’m not hopeful.

My speech on gender diversity and raising a trans kid…

Wow that’s a long title.

Since I’m nowhere near talented enough to change Jeremy’s real name in a video, I’m just going to post the transcript here. Pretend I’m talking quietly at a podium while I shift nervously and fiddle with my hair. I was wearing turquoise if that helps 🙂

 *******************************

There’s so much I didn’t know when my kids were growing up, especially when it came to gender. I look back at Jeremy when zie was little. Jeremy was equally happy with dinky cars and Polly Pockets, which was fine with me. I grew up in a family which believed toys were for all kids. When Jeremy was four, zie got a little toy shaving kit for Christmas and the first thing zie did was hop into the bathtub to shave zir legs. I figured that was because zie didn’t have a Dad at home and explained that boys shave their faces, not their legs. Jeremy looked a bit surprised but followed my instructions. Actually, the first time Jeremy shaved once puberty hit, Jeremy shaved zir legs but by then zie wasn’t using a Bob the Builder kit. Zie borrowed my razor instead; I quickly got zir one of zir own. And there was dress up time, which always consisted of Jeremy getting dressed up in Emma’s clothes, never the reverse. Emma would refer to zir as Jemmy and would pick out the clothes she thought would suit zir the best. Both kids loved this game.

I think Jeremy was around eight or nine years old when zie saw some words written on the bus shelter wall and wanted to know what they meant. The words were:

I wish I was a girl.

I had no idea what to say let alone where to start. It was a big topic that I didn’t understand very well. And Jeremy was standing there watching me expectantly, positive I had the answer. I decided to start with empathy so I said, “You know how you look like boy on the outside and feel like a boy on the inside…” then stopped when I saw Jeremy’s confused expression. Zie shook zir head and said “no”.

I look back now and marvel at how blind I was but then I simply figured I’d screwed up my explanation. I went on to explain that most people look like a boy on the outside and feel like a boy on the inside or look like a girl on the outside and feel like a girl on the inside but sometimes it’s the opposite. When people look like a boy on the outside and feel like a girl on the inside, or vice versa, it’s called transgender. Jeremy listened intently then was heartbroken that we couldn’t find the person who wrote the words so they’d know they weren’t alone.

Throughout this time, Jeremy would ask how I knew that zie would grow up to be a man. I knew zie’d been bullied at school with kids calling zir a he-she and I was well aware that grown adults were telling Jeremy zie needed to “be a man” so I chalked zir questions up to bullying. I assured Jeremy that zie didn’t need to do anything special in order to be a man, zie just needed to grow up. That zie could be a man and still love the colour pink and long hair and glitter. Each time Jeremy seemed reassured by my response.

A couple of years ago I became Facebook friends with Lenny. One of the first things Lenny told me is zie’s transgender and identifies between male and female, using the pronouns zie and zir. I’d had no idea people could be anything but male or female so this was a surprise. Lenny lives in England so zie’d never know if I was using the right pronouns or not but it didn’t seem fair to use the wrong ones. I insisted the kids use zir pronouns as well.

It wasn’t until last year that Jeremy began to show signs of discomfort with using male pronouns. Zie got sent home from school one day for arguing with zir teacher about the words boy and girl being opposites. Jeremy insisted they weren’t because you could feel like both a boy and a girl. The teacher argued she was talking about language and not gender then persisted in telling Jeremy zie was wrong. In the spring, Jeremy asked for the teacher to explain more pronouns than male and female and the teacher refused, claiming that she could only teach “invented” pronouns if there was a trans student in the class and then only the pronouns that student was using. Jeremy wasn’t out so I backed down. Zie didn’t come out until the end of summer.

Fifty-seven percent of unsupported trans youths attempt suicide. That statistic drops down to four percent when youths have a supportive family. I’ll do anything to make Jeremy feel supported, up to and including waving pom poms. Jeremy assures me that’s not necessary.

The hard part is how often and regularly Jeremy gets misgendered. When I talked to Jeremy’s school, their biggest concern was whether Jeremy’s gender identity and pronouns were going to be a distraction in the classroom. They use zir pronouns in official documents but call Jeremy he and him. And I can count on one hand the number of people in real life who consistently use zir pronouns. It’s so frustrating because people just don’t seem to understand how important this is to Jeremy. If they’d use the right pronouns in front of zir, even once, they’d see what a difference it makes. Give it a try, they’re not hard to use.

Thank you.

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…