Jeremy’s 18th birthday extravaganza…

“Mom? Can I open my presents tonight? Please?” Jeremy begged. “It would make so much more sense than tomorrow morning. We’re not going to have much time and I could try out stuff before leaving. Especially if I got a remote control car…”

“I didn’t buy you a car,” I interjected. I knew who did and also knew zie wouldn’t get it until Saturday afternoon.

“That’s okay,” zie continued. “No matter what it is, I won’t have any time with it on my birthday morning. We’ll be getting up then going right out for the bus.”

Which was true enough. We had a family dinner to attend on Thursday night then Jeremy opened zir presents from me as soon as we got home.

opening presents

The bluetooth speaker was a huge hit. Zie immediately synced it to zir phone and set it to play in our living room, turning off the lights for maximum effect…

disco lights

Nothing says disco more than instrumental soundtracks from video games.

The other presents were a hit too. Zir Minecraft keychain turned out to be a working chest which zie’s using to store gum…

Jeremy and zir Minecraft keychain

At least zie was last night. At the rate Jeremy goes through gum, it’s probably all gone by now.

The only thing Jeremy wanted to do for zir 18th birthday was to ride a quad bike at Centre Island. I had visions of us picnicking on the lush green lawns under a gorgeous blue sky with downtown Toronto as a back drop behind us. That so didn’t happen.

From the moment Jeremy’s birthday showed up in the extended weather forecast, it called for rain all day. By Thursday, thunderstorms got added as a special treat. The bike rentals are weather dependent. I started frantically trying to think of something else we could do in downtown Toronto. The Hockey Hall of Fame was a definite no. I’m an ethical vegan so the new aquarium wasn’t an option. And Jeremy’s not that fond of heights so the CN tower didn’t seem like a great idea either (especially since heavy rain would destroy the view). After an entire week of waffling I decided to take zir to the island and hope for the best, which we got although it was slightly delayed.

Jeremy made a friend on our last trip to Toronto and she met us at Union Station. The two of them chatted all the way across to the island, where we found the closed and shuttered bike rental shop. My heart sank. Then I saw a sign saying they opened at 10:30am (phew). Ten thirty came… the staff didn’t. I tried the number on their website and the automated voice cheerfully announced the shop opened at 11am. By this time the clouds were breaking up, I hoped someone was looking at the sky and not the forecast.

Jeremy had already asked several times when we’d be having lunch so I figured that would be a decent distraction. I picked a picnic table situated right beside the shop with a view of the pier. Jeremy asked if we could eat on the pier instead. Our food nearly ended up in the lake due to the strong lake winds but Jeremy’s hair looked fabulous…

wind in Jeremy's hair

We got back and finally the shop was being opened. The employee paused while pulling a bike out to inform us the shop opened at 11:30am. Alrighty then… it was time for birthday cupcakes (and the last distraction I had available). Luckily the bikes were out by the time the cupcakes were done and we were the first in line for our quad bike. Jeremy, of course, took the wheel and we were off to explore the island… or as much as we could without crossing any bridges.

Friend and Jeremy on the quad bike1

The bike actually is adorable. I love the little headlights.

The sun even came out while we were riding. Jeremy and zir friend were thrilled with everything. The island school and fire station… the house boats… the playground and mysterious wooden fort (presumably another playground). Meanwhile I peddled, pointed stuff out, and listened to them talk and laugh.

It started to rain when Jeremy’s friend had to leave. We went on a couple of rides at the amusement park but it’s aimed at small children and Jeremy was way too big for most. Even the roller coaster was tiny.

The poor kid thought zie was at risk of decapitation, as if the ride would still be open if every 6ft 2in adult lost their head halfway through.

The poor kid thought zie was at risk of decapitation, as if the ride would still be open if every 6ft 2in adult lost their head halfway through.

The rain turned into a torrential downpour by the time we reached Union Station. I had plans of taking Jeremy to The Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner but it was only 2:30pm and even Jeremy’s not ready for lunch that early. However, I knew of a store in the Eaton Centre which sells Doctor Who items. It wasn’t that far away and we could get there through the PATH. This was the biggest mistake I made all day, although it turned out okay in the end.

The PATH is a labyrinth of food courts and stores under the office towers in downtown Toronto. They’re loosely connected with infrequent maps and signs. Two decades ago I knew the PATH well enough to easily travel to the Eaton Centre but the stores I used as landmarks have all changed. It’s a tedious and confusing route at the best of times, dragging along a claustrophobic teen brought new *excitement* to the experience.

I was finally able to assure zir we were moments away from the actual mall and then we ran into construction… underground… in a mall. The detour continued to lead us further east. Jeremy panicked while I lied and said we’d be there soon. Finally we hit a subway station and I scrambled out as quick as I could, only to realize I recognized nothing. It wasn’t a big deal, we were in downtown Toronto, not the dark side of the moon. I just needed to walk a bit and find…

OH WOW LOOK… A HIDDEN GARDEN!!!

Jeremy’s used to me and my obsession with little hidden parks and followed along behind me. And this little courtyard garden was worth it. Not only were there trees but three amazing fountains. My favourite was the bronze sculpture of tree that shot a spiraling fountain of water into the air.

fountain courtyardI watched Jeremy surreptitiously while I snapped a serious of fountain photos and knew zie wouldn’t make it to the mall without collapsing into a meltdown. Zie needed plenty of quiet and some food. Meanwhile we were standing beside a small, almost empty restaurant. As much as I love The Old Spaghetti Factory, it’s anything but quiet. This restaurant ended up being the best.

Jeremy enjoying zir birthday dinner

Steak, potatoes, and one of Jeremy’s favourite shows, piped comfortably in through zir headphones.

Jeremy was in much better spirits when we left and so was I. They didn’t have anything vegan on the menu but the chef “whipped up” a pasta dish for me that was amazing. And we turned out to be only three blocks away from the mall… where we found Doctor Who earrings for both of us and a full sized sonic screwdriver for zir (the 11th Doctor’s of course).

I’ll write about Jeremy’s family dinner and zir rainbow Doctor Who cake tomorrow.

Busyness

It was April 1st. My Mom called right as I sat down for my break, which was odd as she knew I was at work.

“I just wanted to give you a head’s up,” she said when I answered the phone. “Your ex called and he’s on the warpath. He wanted to know why he hadn’t been told that Jeremy’s transgender. I told him you haven’t been shy about telling people, that you’ve been really open. And when was the last time he saw Jeremy?”

I hoped for a brief second this was an April Fool’s prank but that’s not my Mom’s style. I was, however, impressed by how she’d handled him. Way to go Mom!

“He made all sorts of excuses about living far away,” she continued, “and he’s talking about moving back down in June.”

Just in time for Jeremy’s birthday. You can imagine how thrilled Jeremy is about that. The story he gave my Mom is that I showed up in his suggested friend’s list then he clicked on my picture and saw my latest post. I had just posted about Jeremy but that was set to friends only plus I’d blocked both his accounts.

I called Jeremy at school to warn zir (first time zie’d attended in over a week) then I went to message Emma. I started typing just as their Dad called and I accidentally accepted his call. I hadn’t meant to accept it, not with 30 seconds left on my break.

I couldn’t have just shown up on your page,” I pointed out in exasperation during the call. “I’ve got both your accounts blocked.”

“Well I’ve got a lot of accounts on Facebook,” he replied. I hadn’t realized until then that a smirk could be heard through the phone. He promised me he’d call back soon to discuss Jeremy’s gender. It sounded more like a threat.

Jeremy seemed fine when I warned zir at school but I came home to a weepy teen who desperately needed hugs. We headed out shopping as a distraction then a thought struck me as we left. I’d woke to a friend request that morning, which wasn’t unusual except the person didn’t have any friends in common. I messaged Emma immediately to ask her if the person showed up as a friend of their Dad. She sent me a screen shot less than a minute later of the person’s friend’s list with her Dad right there. By then I’d already deleted the request but still felt creeped out. There was no way the request was coincidental.

We checked out a new liquidation centre that opened up by our place and Jeremy ecstatically found a remote control car to replace the one zie accidentally broke this winter while driving it over a slushy snow bank.

“Look! It has real working headlights! And there’s seats inside and a dashboard that even shows the radio and bumpers and a real suspension.” Zie flipped the car over and bounced the wheels up and down. “This is the coolest car ever!”

I couldn’t afford to buy zir anything right now. “Go see how much it costs,” I said and zie hurried off.

“It’s twenty dollars!” zie yelled as zie ran back, hugging the car against zir chest.

I still couldn’t afford it but this was the happiest I’d seen zir in ages. “Okay,” I said and watched zir smile grow enormous.

I can drive my car all through Toronto tomorrow,” zie pointed out when we got home.

We had plans of going downtown and watching parliament in action, seeing the Ontario government decide on whether to pass Bill 77 on to committee. Bill 77 is a bill to stop conversion therapy on LGBTQ children and youths in Ontario. It was important to have supporters in the gallery.

I looked at the car and figured we’d get to Toronto early and make a few detours through city parks. Then I checked the bus and train times and finally the train tickets. That was when I felt like crying… almost $40 just for the train tickets alone. I hadn’t realized the price had gone up by that much.

It’s okay Mom,” Jeremy reassured me. “We can stay home and I can drive my car through the park.”

That’s why community’s important and valued. I vented on Facebook about how horrible the day had been and immediately had two people volunteer to give me some money so Jeremy and I could go downtown. I accepted the first volunteer (thanks again!).

Yay!” Jeremy yelled. “My car can drive by all the tall buildings!”

We had a marvellous time in Toronto. Jeremy got to drive zir car through Cloud Garden’s greenhouse…

driving zir car

… and then we walked down University Avenue right to the circle.

I knew where Queen’s Park was but had never been there before, which had me sending frantic messages to a friend from the Parents of Transgender Children group.

Do you see the government building?” she asked. I looked around at about a half dozen of them.

Do you mean the reddish one?” I sent back hesitantly. Which it was.

Ooo... fancy

Ooo… fancy

We ended up on opposite ends of the building but finally met and were herded in for our gallery passes along with a youth who was also coming to view Bill 77’s debate.

I'd been picturing something a bit more impressive.

I’d been picturing something a bit more impressive.

Then we had to give up pretty much everything. No cameras, no cell phones, no pens or paper, no food (including water). We weren’t allowed to write or draw or clap. I got told to stop pointing out architectural details to Jeremy in case it disturbed the people two stories below. Then Jeremy noticed the brass finial in front of us looked a bit like a penis and testicles and we got told to stop whispering and giggling. Oops. Finally they moved on to the bill we’d been waiting for and it was overwhelmingly positive. Person after person stood up and gave the bill glowing comments. Several brought up their own struggles as LGBTQ youths. All insisted it was important to protect children and assure them there was nothing wrong with being themselves.

We left as soon as the debate finished (if such a unified front can be called a debate). They hadn’t voted yet but Jeremy and zir new friend were bored (and quite frankly so was I). By then we’d been hanging out in the gallery for almost two hours.

We met up with another friend from the group and her children (who’d sat amazingly well for that whole time) before heading our separate ways.

leaving the Legislative building

Jeremy getting ready to drive zir car some more.

The best part is we got home to find out that Bill 77 passed unanimously. They’re hoping to have it finalized for Pride week in June!

And my ex called during our train ride. It turns out he saw my video from February about raising a trans kid (one of the very few things set to public on my personal page). He wanted to know who “zir” was then informed me he’d never refer to Jeremy as anything other than his son unless Jeremy had surgery and then he’d start referring to Jeremy as she; totally ignoring Jeremy’s actual gender identity. Once again he didn’t ask to speak to Jeremy, saying he’d call that weekend. I looked at Jeremy sitting directly across from me and knew he wouldn’t. But at least that call is over with and I won’t need to misgender Jeremy during our infrequent phone conversations anymore.

Poor Jeremy. Zie was so happy with zir new car and went out twice a day, every day, to drive it in the nearby park. Then zie went out with me yesterday to pick up cat food and drove it ahead of us on the sidewalk. It was one of those “I can’t believe it’s happening” moments. Jeremy drove zir car across the entrance to a nearby strip mall and into the grass beside the pavement just as someone drove up over the curb and across the grass crushing the hood of zir car. Ironically enough the car still works but the whole hood is gone… and we’d bought the last one at a clearance outlet. Zie spent most of last night crying and was upset and agitated through zir whole counselling session today. We’ve looked at a few cars online but zie waffled over them all. I think the hardest part for zir was the person didn’t even apologize… just looked at us holding all the little car parts and walked away.

I’m off this Thursday, maybe I’ll find something then.

heading off to Hogwarts

March musings…

So Jeremy hasn’t been to school since last Monday. Zie was supposed to have counselling on Tuesday but was too anxious to leave, which turned okay because zir counselor was sick and had just left for home. Zie missed school on Wednesday then came home after Youth Group and cried for a solid night and a good chunk of the next day. One of the worst feelings in the world is being stuck at work knowing your child is hurting… but also knowing zie’s going to appreciate a bedroom and food (which needs a paycheque). Except zie needed me now. Sigh. We were supposed to go to PFLAG on Thursday evening. We didn’t go. Neither did we go to the Youth Led UU service this Sunday, which was also due to anxiety.

Today is tentatively better. Jeremy barely slept last night but wanted to get back on track and stayed up for most of today. Zie spent the day rearranging zir room and has it organized quite well. Which is amazing, usually zir rearrangements look like they were done by overbooked movers in one hell of a rush. Everything crammed against one wall and you have to climb over at least a desk to reach zir bed. And zie hasn’t cried once.

Jeremy’s got counseling tomorrow (knock on wood) and then we’re going to Queen’s Park in Toronto on Thursday to show support of Bill 77, which is a bill to protect LGBTQ youths from conversion therapy in Ontario.

And tomorrow is the Transgender Day of Visibility. I just painted both mine and Jeremy’s nails purple with a top coat of silver, pink, and pale blue sparkles. They’re pretty darn visible…

11072964_10155391178780434_1916076214_n

My sparkly nails.

Two things happened while I was writing this post. The first was the realization that Jeremy’s anxiety drastically increased when I added vitamins to zir daily routine. Which sent me googling “can B vitamins increase anxiety?” The answer was a big yes posted to the top of the page so I immediately skipped giving Jeremy a B50 pill. The second was when my brain kicked in and said, “Wait? Wasn’t today the day to pick up the prescriptions?” Of course it was and I’m all ready for bed. Jeremy on the other hand hasn’t set one foot out of our apartment since last Wednesday. I promptly requested a medication run and Jeremy cheerfully agreed.

Jeremy got to our front door then called back in a sing-song voice, “See you… wouldn’t want to be you… because I like being me.” Words I love to hear. Zie left wearing a pair of woman’s pants and with zir nails as glittery as a disco ball. Maybe (hopefully) tomorrow will be even better than today.

World Pride…

Jeremy and I went to our local pride parade last June. It was… small. The entire parade was three blocks long and took less than five minutes. Most of the audience were under the age of five with the majority of the rest being their mothers. Jeremy was underwhelmed.

“That parade was really boring,” he muttered as kids ran around us clutching rainbow flags and wrist bands.

I shrugged. “It’s bigger than the non-existent one we used to have. Besides, you can’t expect it to be as big as the Toronto Pride parade.”

He turned around so quickly my first thought was he’d been stung. “Wait! What Pride parade?” he blurted.

“Umm… the Toronto parade,” I replied. “It’s a big parade, they have it every June.”

“Can we go next year?” he asked hopefully. He grinned as I nodded.

Jeremy came out as bisexual a few weeks later only to go back in the closet that winter.

“Are you still wanting to go to the Pride parade?” I asked one evening after Jeremy (once again) loudly informed me he was 100% straight.

“Of course,” he replied, as if that was obvious. Perhaps to him it was.

Then I started getting notices in my Facebook ads about World Pride. Yes, I share and like enough LGBTQ posts on Facebook to get Pride advertisements plus helpful suggestions on how to make my same sex wedding more special. Jeremy finds this hilarious. That being said, I had no idea what World Pride was. So I asked on Facebook and quickly discovered the whole freaking world’s been invited to go hang out in Toronto this week. Great.

I am not a people person. I like people in small doses and with lots of downtime so I can recharge. When I take those Introvert/Extrovert tests, I hang out right at the very edge of the introvert scale. The only way to score higher than me as an introvert is to extend the scale a bit more.

I posted this question on Facebook:

Are any of my friends going to the Toronto Pride parade next Sunday? Jeremy wants to go and I wondered if anyone wants to meet us. He’ll be the one with long purple hair and I’ll be the one hyperventilating into a paper bag (because I love crowds *that* much).

I knew my description of him was vague, heck this might be the only time ever that “long purple hair” does not immediately pinpoint him in a crowd. But I also share tonnes of photos of him on Facebook so I figured everyone there knows what he looks like.

The two replies I got about the parade were:

I’ve * thought* about it…but….it’s World Pride this year….it’s going to be SUPER busy!!

and…

As much as I support PRIDE you can not convince me to go down there with that many people.

My friend P pretty much told me the same thing via the phone. There was no way he was going, he found the regular pride parade too crowded.

Then I got an email from our UU minister saying that anyone who wished to march in World Pride could march with the Toronto First Unitarian church; they have space for 100 people. That sounded perfect. I wouldn’t have to stand around waiting for hours, instead I’d be with a group. And I wouldn’t need to worry about being too crowded because I’d be walking in the parade. I excitedly told this to Jeremy.

“I don’t want to march,” he said dismissively. “I don’t like walking, it’s too much work.”

Okay, that ticked me off. I can handle a lot of reasons for not doing something but laziness isn’t one of them. I left the room to cool down then approached Jeremy later.

“Mom,” he said earnestly. “We wouldn’t see anything if we were in the parade. We’d see the backs of the people in front of us and maybe the people behind us if we turned around but that’s it. We wouldn’t see any floats or anything.”

“We’d see everyone who came,” I pointed out. “People are coming from all over the world to attend.”

Jeremy snorted. “Like I go to parades to watch the audience. I want to see the floats.”

Okay, he had a point.

So we’ve got a week to go until the World Pride parade. I went online last night and searched out the parade route. It apparently starts somewhere I’ve never been before and ends just north of the Eaton Centre. I know where the Eaton Centre is at least. There’s a park right beside the Eaton Centre with a waterfall and a meditation garden. We can eat lunch there and I can hyperventilate in relative peace.

I figure I’ll pack plenty of sunscreen and fill our water bottles. I’ll pack plenty of pre-washed fruits and vegetables, make wraps, and bake an entire batch of cupcakes. I figure if we’re going to be sitting beside the same people for two or more hours, I might as well have extra cupcakes to share. And I’ll take a tonne of photos.

Is anyone else attending?