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…

Just happy…

“Jeremy? Can you come into my room for a minute? I want to read you something.”

“All right, I guess,” he sighed unenthusiastically.

I heard him push back his chair and resisted the urge to cross my fingers. Sometimes he listens, most of the time he just wiggles around impatiently and changes the subject as soon as I finish speaking. I already had the tab open. I’d had it open for two hours while I worked up the guts to call him in.

How do you describe your gender?

As soon as I started reading, Jeremy began fidgeting.

“Ooo… I like this one, ‘with a “meh” sound and a wavy hand gesture’,” I looked over my shoulder. “Jeremy, stop banging around my pillow. I’m going to sleep with that tonight.”

He snickered. “Mom, you’re going to sleep with your pillow? That’s really weird.”

I grabbed the pillow and tossed it to the top of the bed. Then I repeated the previous comment, complete with hand gesture. I could see from Jeremy’s expression that he’d actually listened this time.

“Yeah, that’s someone describing their gender,” I added then kept reading, “…and ‘alien space prince’-”

“Wait? There’s royalty?” Jeremy interrupted. A grin crept across his face.

“Not really,” I replied. “It’s in their handle though and they used…” I paused to count, “seven words to describe their gender. Janitorqueer said he’s ‘a kaleidoscope of all genders’.”

Jeremy nodded then stayed silent for the rest of the replies.

“Well that’s it for me,” I said as I stifled a yawn. “I’m way too tired to stay up any longer. Go to sleep netbook.” I stood up then closed my netbook. It’s new and the hinges are a tad eager so it snapped shut.

“You just slammed that computer shut. Just wham…” Jeremy blurted.

“Yep,” I said before mimicking slamming something shut quite violently. “Just slammed it to bits.”

I held out my arms for a hug and stood on my tiptoes. Jeremy bent toward me with a wide smile and his expression startled me. Don’t get me wrong, Jeremy smiles and laughs often, but this time it was different. His smile was just that, an expression of happiness with no tinges of anything else. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d seen him with nothing but happiness on his face. This smile was real.

He let go then scooped his perfume off my dresser where he’s been stashing it. He gave himself a liberal squirt.

“I’m going to make myself some tea before bed,” he announced then he hurried down the hall, perfume bottle in hand.

I screw up quite regularly as a parent but reading that post to Jeremy was definitely the right thing.

Thanks for writing that Tumblr post Micah, it made a difference.

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.

Jeremy’s hair…

I’ve been wanting to do a scrapbooking layout of Jeremy’s hair, featuring all the different colours he’s gone through over the past half year. This latest shade of purple is a different hue than the last and I figured I should get a shot of it while it’s still fresh.

Jeremy was underwhelmed by the thought of leaving his Minecraft game but went outside willingly. He walked a few steps ahead of me then stopped, still facing away from the camera.

“Umm, Jeremy, you need to face me,” I pointed out as I tugged on his shoulder.

He turned around, looking disappointed. “It’s not for the blog?” he asked.

“Sure, I’ll do a shot for the blog too,” I assured him.

So here it is, a photo of Jeremy’s purple hair. He’s holding one of our cats (the one he’s taught how to give hugs).

Jeremy's purple hair

Emma’s boyfriend…

My daughter Emma has a boyfriend. In real life this isn’t news. They’ve been friends for years and have been dating for half a year now. I just don’t think I’ve mentioned this here before.

They came over for a visit today. As usual, her boyfriend, Mark, was friendly and cheerful. Jeremy was playing his Saint’s Row video game and Mark sat down to watch and offer suggestions, while listening to Jeremy’s explanations of what was happening. Then Emma asked if they could go to the mall. I didn’t need to go with them. I said that was fine and Jeremy jumped at the chance to go shopping.

They returned an hour later. Emma rushed over, eyes bright with excitement.

“Guess what Mark did?” she asked. She sat down beside me and continued before I could offer a reply. “This guy was in the line behind us and he started saying stuff about Jeremy’s hair and how weird and freaky it looked. Mark turned around and told him to keep his thoughts to himself and that if he said another word, Mark was going to punch him in the face.”

Mark stood in the doorway and smiled awkwardly. I gave him a thumbs up.

“Then what happened?” I asked.

Emma smiled. “The man shut up.”

I’m not a violent person at the best of times but my patience is wearing thin. I’m just glad to know Jeremy has someone willing to stand up for him when I’m not around.

Better left unsaid…

“So? Did you dye Jeremy’s hair again this weekend?” my customer asked as a huge grin spread across her face.

I smiled back. This is the same customer who said the aqua hair dye looked awesome, or at least what she could see of it on my arm. I chat with her regularly, often about Jeremy.

“Not this weekend,” I replied. “The last dye job wasn’t that long ago and it still looks good.” I finished up her order and handed her back the change.

“I wonder what colour he’ll pick next,” she mused. “I know, lime green.”

That’s one colour I couldn’t picture Jeremy choosing and I told her that.

“It’s too close to yellow,” I explained. “Jeremy hates the colour yellow.”

The customer smiled and leaned in toward the cash register. I automatically did the same.

“Yeah,” she whispered conspiratorially. “He probably wouldn’t want to be considered one of those.”

I froze. “What?” I blurted, although I knew exactly what she was getting at.

“You know,” she continued, drooping one wrist. “A fag.”

I blinked, not knowing what on earth to say and she repeated herself, presumably thinking I hadn’t heard her.

“Considering he dyed his hair pink before, I don’t think that’s a big concern of his,” I replied. I was aiming for dry although I admit my voice was probably closer to cold.

Jeremy hadn’t meant to dye his hair pink, he’d been trying for purple, but it ended up cotton candy pink and he kept it for a month, so I figured that was close enough. There was no way I was explaining this to her, not after that comment.

“Oh,” she sounded startled. “I guess not then.”

She  went and sat down, then came back about ten minutes later.

“About earlier,” she said awkwardly. “I’m sorry if I offended you.”

I nodded. “Thanks,” I replied, feeling pretty awkward myself. “I find that word offensive.”

With that, she went back to her seat. One of my coworkers wandered over.

“What was that all about?” she asked in confusion. “You look mad at her.” I shrugged.

“She told me earlier that Jeremy wouldn’t want to dye his hair lime green in case people thought he was a fag.”

My coworker glared over the counter. “You know, I don’t think I like her either,” she mused.

I thought back to Jeremy’s comment a few weeks ago, when he told me he’s never coming out of the closet ~ that he’d taken away the door, welded it shut, then hid it behind a wide screen TV ~ and I wondered if he’d had any similar conversations with people he thought were more trustworthy and less judgmental. And I felt a lot more empathy.

Why? Why?

I headed off to bed last night and told Jeremy to go to bed too because he needed to be up at 6am.

“I just have one video to watch Mom, then I’m going right to bed.”

At midnight he was in my room complaining he just couldn’t fall asleep. At 3am he was in my room, tearfully explaining that every time he started dozing off, he woke up thinking there was something (someone?) under his bed who was going to pull him out then kill him. At 5am he was making herbal tea.

I walked into the living room at 6am to find Jeremy peacefully asleep on the couch with a video open on the computer. What was he watching last night? A video on Uganda’s anti-gay laws.

*head desk*

Why he thought that would be something to watch directly before bed, I’ll never know. As it is, it looks like someone’s staying home from school today.

Melancholic musings

It was a good day today, for the most part. My Dad had his birthday and we all met at my parents’ house for a family dinner. There was lots of laughter and joking around plus plenty of yummy food. Everyone left in good spirits, Jeremy included.

At one point Jeremy looked up and asked what one of our relatives was doing. The relative replied, “I’m going out to shovel the driveway with you.”

Jeremy had been sitting in the living room but he good-naturedly walked over and started pulling on his winter gear. Then the relative continued.

“This is a man’s job,” he said cheerfully then he laughed and looked back over at Jeremy. “Although you’re not really much of a man are you? You’re more of a girl.”

“Yes,” Jeremy replied in a calm, patient voice. He finished tying his shoes and stood up.

“Especially with that long hair of yours,” the relative continued. Jeremy stayed silent and simply nodded.

“I’ve got gloves if you want to borrow a pair,” I commented, hoping to steer the conversation in a new direction.

“It’s okay,” Jeremy assured me. “I’m fine.” And, with that, they headed out.

Later on the relative complimented Jeremy on his great job at cleaning the driveway. To him what happened earlier was just some mild teasing. I didn’t find it nearly as funny or mild, however I had no idea what to say. Plus I don’t think Jeremy would have appreciated me saying anything.

When I started writing this entry I wanted to make sure I wrote exactly what the relative said, so I asked Jeremy what he remembered. He looked at me then shrugged.

“I don’t remember. Sorry Mom, I try to forget stuff like that right away. I block it right out of my mind.”

Obviously he didn’t consider it mild teasing either.

I got on the computer shortly after we got home and logged onto Facebook. One of the first things that showed up on my newsfeed was a link to an article detailing Kirk Cameron’s homophobic comments about the weddings at The Grammys. Neither Jeremy or I saw The Grammys but we did see the weddings, thanks to several links on Facebook.

Jeremy laughed and shook his head when I explained briefly what this expired child actor had to say about the marriages.

“But Mom, there were normal marriages on the show too, not just gay ones,” he retorted. Normal marriages.

“Jeremy, they were all normal marriages,” I replied. He rolled his eyes.

“Mom. You know what I meant.”

Yes, I knew exactly what he meant. And I can’t help thinking this is just one of the reasons the suicide rates are so high for LGBTQ youth. That pervasive “there’s normal and then there’s you” mindset.