I've worked hard to not be one of those people--mostly successfully, sometimes (spectacularly) not. But I've always hoped that people would forgive me my transgressions as I've forgiven friends who've made fat jokes about people on television as I'm sitting right there. It's hard to remember that people we love and consider our equals have been marginalized and hurt for who they are all their lives. We want them to be loved like we love them and are shocked and saddened to realize that the world is far crueler than we've imagined.
And the more I've grown, the more I've prayed that good I've tried to put into the world would be visited on my children. I've seen that more than one person has quoted the line from Ellery's mother in one of the Fish stories, where she talks about how disheartening it is to fight this fight all your life only to discover that there's a whole new crop of soldiers for the enemy. The least I could do, I hoped, was make the world a little less harsh for my children.
My youngest--whom most of you have known as Squish-- sported a long, beautiful red braid in pictures from long ago. I've stopped posting pictures much in the last few years. My children requested it because they have their own lives and privacy, and I've also discovered that an online friend could hurt with a verbal machete as well as a scalpel. But many, many people remember the sparkling child with the infectious grin, blue eyes, and gorgeous red hair.
That child is transitioning from the child we thought we had--a girl--to the young man he was destined to be. Tomorrow is the first of the hormone shots, after two years of hard work on their part and private ranting and a painful acceptance on the parts of his father and I. It's not that we're transphobic or against gender care. It's just that, until the particular moment of coming out, this child has had a hard time deciding on everything from a purse to pants to a hairstyle. We had to actively fight the urge to ask, "Are you sure?" because when a child tells you who they are, as a parent it is our job to believe them, and that question is a slap to their face.
But our son was kind to us, giving us time to transition from she to they, and from they to he, and now "he" and the new name comes out nearly as easily as the first pronoun. Give it a few years and we might forget there ever was a first pronoun and a deadname, except for the many pictures of the adorable imp with the braid.
Our son is that same kid by the way. Adorable, funny, kind, so responsible and organized it frightens us because where would this kid come from? Our child has never stopped being a blessing, even if we were challenged to accept the adult he needed to become.
Another kindness our son has shown is in listening when I begged to leave the younger pictures up. "Please don't erase your childhood," I begged. "We didn't know everything about you then--but that happens. Parents don't know everything about their children. We don't know how tall you'll be or what kind of music you'll like--and we didn't know you were a boy. We didn't have all the information. It just means we were wrong, that's all--not that we're disappointed in you, not in any way. We tried to give you the best childhood we could--and hopefully we gave you one that let you feel safe when you came out, and loved. Please don't make us take those pictures down of a kid we love even more now than we did then." I mean, we know this kid better now, right? It's only right that we love him more.
So there you go. I haven't talked about this much online because it's ours as a family. Private. Not shameful--never that. I'll never be ashamed of my child. But it was ours. Our struggle, our ups and downs. We needed to keep it close to our hearts, and one of the most painful lessons about being online is that people will take something you love and shit on it with malicious abandon. I wanted to make sure nobody shit on my child.
But like I said, tomorrow is butterfly day. When my kid begins to emerge as the adult he's dreamed of being. I needed to say it somewhere, somewhere permanent and out loud, that I love my kid. I loved the little girl I thought he was. I love the young man he's becoming. I love the pure soul inside the body that is going to change in the next few years. I could not ask for a better person in my life.
And I'd like to thank him for still letting me call him Squish, as long as it's not in front of his friends.