Good information

I found a great primer for genderqueer people and those who are seeking to understand them:

I Think I Might Be Trans

My eldest has not yet come out to their dad, though this is inevitable – once you change your name on Facebook, news spreads. Also, my mother noticed the name change, and, well, she couldn’t understand a boundary if one bit her on the ankle, in my experience.

My big fear is that my Esteemed Spouse will feel hurt that they waited so long to tell him. I give him credit for being pretty accepting, but clearly Eldest has some trepidation.

It’s never dull here. 

                                              

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The Next Installment of Our Story…

My youngest, who recently received an IEP, has found that I was not joking. 

She is the most charming child – her wide vocabulary gives her an amusing turn of phrase, she is an engaging, lively person, she is fun to watch and kind to others. These things have combined to allow her to slide through school problems with very few consequences. No one has really wanted to hold her accountable; she has received many more “second chances” than most children, certainly WAY more than I would give her. If she had been born a different gender and race, all her issues would likely have come home to roost long ago.

Last Friday I received a call from the SpEd person at the school. Kidlet had not been using her “need a break” times in the classroom, had not been showing up in the SpEd center to do work, and had been rude and disrespectful to a substitute. (This touches on her choice in friends, but that’s a whole different kettle of snails.) Kidlet, I was told, owed the SpEd teacher some time, and would have to make it up after school. 

My response was, “Absolutely… keep her as long as you need to, I support your effort.” 

Some people in this “stick it to the man” culture we seem to be in may be appalled that I would not side with my precious special snowflake on this. It was Friday! She had had a hard week! I don’t, however, believe that such an attitude would help her at all. I have been saying for ages that you don’t get to just not do what you’re asked to do without consequences. That is not the way the world works. I feel somewhat vindicated.
  
So she had to stay after school. The first part of the time was spent with her crabbing, resisting, even crying because she didn’t want to do the work that needed doing. (So, so familiar!!!) Eventually, however, she gave in and got her stuff done! And she only had to stay 2 hours late to do it – the original term was about a half hour, but she used a lot of time with the resisting, howling, and unpleasantness. 

It is my sincere hope that we are on the road to breaking through to the other side of these struggles. I am so glad that the school is finally forcing the issue. It needed to be done, and no one knew that better than I. 

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Well. That’s new.

My eldest child came home from school yesterday as I was folding laundry and zoning out to a documentary sort of thing on the Hindenburg.

I have seldom had my hand shaken by the Big Kid since the days of teaching the skill, so I was quite surprised to receive a firm handshake, accompanied by the words, “Hello. My name is [slightly altered spelling of a plant]. My chosen pronouns are they/them/their.”

I can’t say I was surprised, at least not completely. They (I do have trouble using a plural pronoun for a singular person, and would much preferred they had chosen “ze” or “xe”, but it wasn’t up to me) have several alternately-gendered, or non-binary, friends, as well as a few LBGT pals. They’ve been going to their school’s GSA meetings. This is not completely out of the blue, but, that said, I was still not quite as prepared as I thought I would have been.

One of the shockers for me has been/is all the questions that arise in finding out exactly what their coming out means. Are they trans*? Gay? Pan? Do they plan to pursue transition? Are they interested in others in a sexual/romantic way at all?

Not all the questions have been asked or answered. Some of the answers are unknown, and not pressing, of course, in these early days of youth. We humans do like to classify and pigeon-hole, though!

Another set of questions surround the coming out process itself. Their school has a procedure, which I did not know until yesterday. Apparently, the kid’s guidance counselor sends out an explanatory email to all the teachers explaining the gender/pronoun/name thing once the young person has come out to close family. Then, the teachers are supposed to use the person’s chosen name and pronouns. (At the risk of sounding like a crotchety old person, that never would have been the case in my day. I think today’s way is better.)

While discussing all this, I asked if they had been worried that I would not be accepting. I was delighted that they said they knew I would be okay about it, and would support them no matter what. (Score many parent points!) It was still scary, though, according to them. (Of course it was!) I told them that I was proud they came out and that I thought they were brave to have taken the risk. Also, that I would and did love them no matter what.

They have not yet come out to my husband or their grandmas, aunts, uncles, or other extended family. They indicated that they would like my support when they come out to my spouse, and I am happy to be there for them. (Plus, and this should be obvious, I wouldn’t miss it for the world… It should be an interesting conversation, to say the least!) I know that my esteemed spouse will be fine about it fairly quickly. The grandmas? Well, they will be mightily confused. That also might be worth the price of admission.

I do not anticipate being perfect at the altered pronouns and name right away. I don’t think it’s necessary to be perfect about it, as long as I try. And there is, inevitably, some sadness and mourning for the girl I had, since it’s impossible to be completely sanguine over what feels a little like a rejection of the identity they once had. Of course, it isn’t really. They are the person they’be always been. It will take a little settling time, I think, and then it will become the new normal.

Really, this “change” is an outgrowth, in part, of the acceptance we have tried to cultivate. That’s a good thing.

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Whew.

I realize (and am appalled by) the amount of time that has passed since I have posted here. Of course, I make the rules, so it’s up to me whether I have to lash myself with a wet noodle or wear some sort of hair shirt as a penance. I think I will skip any punishments.

One of the major things going on, and which has consumed my time, energy, and my emotional resources to a massive degree, is my youngest daughter and her struggles at school.

My little one has always had struggles with control, perfectionism, confidence, and compliance. She is an awesome kid, except when she is expected to produce a particular result. She is determined in her focus, and will defy authority to a DEFCON 1 state when she is expected to do what is expected of everyone. She has tested right up at the border of the Autism spectrum, and sometimes dances over that somewhat fuzzy line. Her aptitude for math and language, however, are quite high, and she consistently tests at the top of the scale, academically.

Well, we finally have the school marshalled on the issue of an IEP and Special Education services.

I feel like a huge weight has rolled off my back. I have been so worried about her progress, and what will come now that we are starting to move into a more high-expectation stage of schooling. I have worried almost constantly about how we can help her to progress, how we can help her gain self-sufficiency, how the hell we’re going to get through the next 8 years of school, let alone post-secondary options. I feel like now, we have some options. I have people to whom I can turn for ideas on how to support my child.

I finally feel less alone.

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In which I continue to allow myself latitude to not keep up

I get into the habit of beating myself up over my lack of regularity for posting here. You would think that it wouldn’t be a huge hairy deal. After all, blogging is a voluntary activity. No one forces a person to have a blog or contribute to it. There’s no rule that says I have to do anything at all.

Except the annoying EXPECTATION VOICE that lives in my head, of course.

That’s the voice that comes with a bag of pressurizers labeled, “Must Be Best At” and, “Can Not Make Mistakes With”. Not to mention the ever-popular, “Don’t Tell Anybody Anything, Lest You Fail Publicly”. That voice has been with me all my life. That voice accompanies every new thing I have ever tried, and everything I have done over time. For always. It is what kept me from ever (that I recall) raising my hand to ask a question in school. Ever.

That’s also the voice that has revved me up to learn enough to get by on almost any subject, so I guess it’s something of a motivator.

 Image

That amount of expectation and pressure also contribute to the amount of guilt and shame that accompany just about anything that I am not immediately awesome at or about doing.

For example, I had every intention of posting to this blog with regularity. I meant to keep up with amusing, not-too-personal anecdotes. I wanted so badly to narrate my own story, to have some control over what to prose of my current life would be. But I am lazy and stressed about what life is really like, and so don’t have the humor necessary to sustain the effort necessary to do what I intended.

Learning, at my somewhat advanced age, to allow myself¬†some latitude in this area is incredibly difficult. I am not particularly well equipped to permit less than perfection. I am trying, but it’s so damned hard. Learning to forgive myself is also hard.

And I find that relearning higher algebra is also a fairly large pisser. And I am doing that*. So I can learn to allow myself some slack. Maybe. We’ll see.

(*Really. I am doing higher algebra so that my kid doesn’t feel so put-upon that I am making her review it this summer a) because her performance in that class was less than stellar this past year, and b) because she will need a good understanding of higher algebra to be successful in pre-calculus, which she insists she wants to take next year, rather than Functions, Statistics and Trigonometry, which I suspect might be the better option for her, given that she doesn’t seem inclined to become a research scientist or phyisicst. I mean, not everybody has to be Neil de Grasse Tyson.)

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Things Fall Into My Lap Sometimes

Through association, I’ve become involved in TV. I never thought such a thing would happen, and I am finding it quite strange, and sort of exciting. Oh, and scary. Very, very scary, as I am afraid of not being able to pull everything together.

I’m not at liberty to say anything specific about what’s going forth, but I can say that there is singing involved, and I am recruiting like a mad woman. I’ve got some takers, and expect to have more as the next few days unfold. It’s a great opportunity to do something completely out of my comfort zone, something absolutely new and different. I’m thrilled at the prospect, certainly. This thing is something I would likely find very funny were I to come across it in me peripatetic wanderings on NetFlix. Being involved and invested in it at this stage is leaping into the great unknown without plugging my nose or deploying a parachute.

I wonder how other middle-aged women would react to this sort of random twist. Do people get stodgier as they age, or do they see new stuff as a way to add excitement and thrill to their otherwise busy and mundane lives? Is it only people who have already taken some risks who would agree to zap so far from what they know well?

Taking risks is nothing new, really. Getting married is a risk. Having and parenting children is a huge one; I am continually flying by the seat of my pants as I try to negotiate the massive landmines scattered about the relationship landscape between my eldest and myself. Every decision one makes involves some element of randomness in the outcome. Every non-decision one undertakes, every time we choose not to decide is risking that the universe will make a crappy decision for us.

I’m trusting my gut not to steer me into a wood-chipper. I am getting a great vibe from parts of what is going on right now, about which I can not give particulars, but trust me, it’s cool. If everything comes together even marginally well, I’ll be so tickled, as well as proud to have been a part of an awesome endeavor.

Meanwhile, I am left with a pithy thought and a great image to go with it:

Image

No idea what I’m doing, but I hope I’m doing it well.

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Okay, so I’m not consistent as such…

So, it’s becoming obvious to me that I may not be cut out for regular-interval blogging. I’m going to give myself a pass on this, and remind myself that, while I am not the most prolific writer I know, there are a bazillion people out there who couldn’t write a coherent sentence to save themselves, so I get to write whenever the mood takes me, no more and no less. Take that, practices and standards!

Rather than dive into the minutiae of what I’ve been doing in lieu of writing, I’ll hit some high notes. Or big notes. Or some notes that mean little, other than to me.

I have recently been implored to join the Board of Directors of the music non-profit for which I sing second tenor. I am unsure how people have managed to get the impression that I’d be good at such a thing, but apparently I’ve got a bit of a rep. (Not, thankfully, the kind you get in high school.) as long as people do what I tell them and don’t get in my way, I’m sure it will be fine. It was nice to be asked and receive such a positive reception.

Speaking of singing, I actually sang a solo in a foreign language and a lower vocal register this past Christmas time. While I don’t have a recording of myself, this is the song sung by another soloist somewhere:

Hacia Belen va un Borrico

What else….

I got ordained and legal with the state to officiate marriages. I will be performing my first one on Saturday, with the rehearsal this evening. I wrote what I think is a very nice secular ceremony, and I’m pretty excited about the whole thing. After Saturday, I have 2 more weddings on the calendar, and I imagine more will come, especially since Minnesota has adopted marriage equality. Yay!

As always, there are some downs to balance things out – our cat Boodle has continues to have peeing problems, necessitating special wet food that smells atrocious, x-rays, and vet visits. The Esteemed Spouse keeps throwing his back out, then not letting heal fully, so there’s often a little old man tottering about. The activities of the kids often require bi-location, which is manageable, just.

I’m sure we’ll get through. At least it’s finally warm, and periodically sunny.

20130620-144802.jpg

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