Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Dear Prudence

57 Weeks

You never know what amazing things will come your way if you relax your expectations. We just watched the Mets in the 2015 World Series. That happened. Greg was thrilled and our family was shrouded in orange and blue for two weeks.

Now, I thoroughly enjoy Halloween. Greg, does not. (Same with karaoke. We're a fun couple with whom to share date-night. Any takers?) Since Ren can't eat candy and we have no business doing so at this juncture in our junk, we decided we wouldn't put Ren in a David Lynch costume just yet. Besides, Ren's 1-year-old check up was the morning of Halloween and that meant shots. Which could easily have meant a crap day. Instead, Ren actually seemed to be energized after his injections this time. The 'ol "I'll give you something to cry about" syndrome? I took it as a sign and dug through a plastic bag filled with hand-me-downs, recalling a monkey suit inside, then spontaneously had all of us hit the center of a neighboring town to trick-or-treat. (AKA showing off our cute baby dressed as an adorable monkey.) You haven't lived until you've entered a local pizza parlor and introduced your baby-primate to a baby-witch, a baby-Captain America, and a baby-Luke Skywalker. None of us had met before and the adults never spoke to one another. We all just collectively shoved our costumed kids together and giggled. "We made these and then put these clothes on them and now we are putting them all together." Alien life-forms would be utterly confused about its meaning.

Today, Greg is out of town so Ren and I had dinner just the two of us. We were almost finished eating, moving on to singing songs, and playing silly games. (AKA doing anything and everything to make Ren laugh.) I stopped and in all seriousness, looked at Ren and told him I liked him.

"Ren. Mommy likes you very much. I love you. You know that? I really think you're fun to be around."

He soaked this in, paused for a good three seconds, and with a completely straight face, raised his hands up over his head like a referee and said, "tree."

The Beatles were wrong. All you need is tree.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Right to Choose

56 Weeks

We knew Ren was a boy pretty early into our pregnancy. We'd done all the tests, since we could, and wanted to prepare for everything, especially heartache, since we're human and all. Neither of us had a preference of gender for our child, but knowing he was male gave us a foundation. (And I'll admit, a little relief for fear of having to lie about our disdain for light pink and headband bows.)

When I was 11, my mom had my brother. I was old enough to babysit almost immediately. I will never forget the solace of rocking him to sleep at night, or the boredom of watching over him as he tried to feed himself. Since Ren, that was the last time I'd been close to a baby. Thirty years ago. My mother used to ask me if helping raise my baby brother was the reason I hadn't had kids. I told her it wasn't, but who knows? Things were hard for him, for us. His little life was all I really knew from kids, and, of course, I had opinions on the choices my mother made for him. I felt like more than a sister in certain ways. My mother took a hard right when I was 14. Became someone else. I felt like my brother got gypped in the mom department and my first decade was with Betty Crocker. Survival guilt.

As a toddler, my brother was diagnosed with ADD and Identity Disorder. He was nellie. Capital Rupaul, nellie. At two,he called me, "giiirrrl," and flipped invisible hair over his shoulders. Everything about him screamed effeminate. A high-pitched, chain-saw chased shriek. I was embarrassed by him some days, but I was a teenager, I was embarrassed by my own face. Yet even then, I didn't understood the amount of money, stress, blood, sweat, and tears my mother and our entire family went through in order to keep my brother in pants and out of skirts. Sure, we lived in Texas and he went to public school. And yes, his gender preferences weren't the only reason he was called a 'difficult' kid. It's just that even as a young person, I didn't understand why my brother was wrong for liking what he liked or being who he was. He was also a lot of fun and had the personality fitting of the world's littlest day-time talk show host. Things might have been different for him, us, if my family and the doctors and society thought twice about fighting against nature. I know they did what they thought was right by him. Turns out it wasn't.

Thanks to the sexuality soldiers throughout the ages, the world is a very different place. I'm grateful for the advancement of our society's compassions towards, what I guess is called the transgender movement. (I have another disdain, too, for wasting time labeling folks. We all have hearts and livers and kidneys too. We don't have laws and discrimination and movements based on how people use those organs.) Things would have been different for my brother if he'd been born today.

I watch Ren play with his cars and blocks and balls and wonder if he will ever become more attracted to dolls and tutus and make up. Greg and I both agree that we couldn't care less. What is important is that Ren do whatever he likes with his time on this earth as long as he doesn't maliciously hurt himself or his fellow people. We believe that happiness is the most important commodity in this life. Happiness being a thing that doesn't come easily. In some ways this makes our job easier and in many ways, more difficult. How lucky are we? At this point in our son's life I'm typing about the banal subject of his gender identity. Thank you, Universe, for giving us charge over Ren. Maybe you do know what you're doing. If we had real problems, my weekly, personal op-ed would be a series of H. R. Giger emojies.