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|Disclaimer - I wrote this for another group, and I'm not taking the time to change the names to protect the innocent. Just know that the 3 kiddos mentioned are Dr B, Goldilocks, and Monkey. Now you know their names, if you did not already.
Warning - long-winded, chaotic rant, some trans-related, some life related. Bonus - if you make it to the end, I promise there's a wacky twist. First . . . a little more about my cast of characters. Most of you have heard me talk about Ari, my 20 year old agender kiddult, college junior. I've also mentioned my 15 year old, Sophie, a time or 2. She's a sophomore in high school, and Ari's biggest supporter and fan from the time she was aware of her older sibling. And I also have Jake - my 10 year old, sports crazy Monkey.
This autumn has been insane. As of last night, I'm almost thoroughly convinced that someone is playing an elaborate practical joke on me.
I've been spending October prepping for the next story I'm writing, this November. Every day there is an assignment that helps me with my story, my characters, my settings, etc. Plus a bonus assignment that helps even further. Now imagine me trying to accomplish that . . .
Let's see . . . where to begin? Ari decided this past summer that computer game design (their college major) is not for them. We'd more or less convinced them to continue the program and at least finish the degree, given the time and funds put into it, to this point. Well, within a week of returning, they decided NO WAY, they can't do it. High school English teacher. That's what they're going to be. That's not really what they WANT to be . . . but it's what they know they're good at. And they are. They've been working part time in the writing center, and really love it. I also had the opportunity to see their work - we both helped a friend of theirs edit a school paper last week, and through Google docs I was able to see their comments - they really pulled out some deep themes, and asked really important questions that never would have occurred to me. In any case . . . the biggest issue with switching majors is this - we're now talking about an additional 6 months of school. Which really means a full year, because there was supposed to be a 6 month internship during which there was no tuition, AND they would have been getting paid. We budgeted . . . barely . . . for the program they've been working on. The school is crazy expensive. Their college fund has been suckd dry. And if they switch majors, we have no idea what will happen to their scholarship money.They're also still struggling MAJORLY with anxiety, and pain from undiagnosed (probably) fibromyalgia. We managed to get them an appt with a Dr in Philly in NOVEMBER. Oh! And their hard drive crashed during finals week of summer session, so they have like 3 incompletes, and we had to get a computer magician to try and help. It took a while, but this guy knew exactly what the problem was, and just needed to find the right board to put on the thing, to be able to access their information.
Moving on . . . Jake's been having increasing headaches since the summer. We thought they might have been from his new allergy/asthma meds, and with the allergist's permission, weaned him off of them. Headaches continued, so he went back on these important meds, and we went to see the pediatrician. Who said we should get an MRI done. YIKES! He was such a trooper . . . I probably would have been panicking the whole way through. His head was immobilized because it was a scan of his brain/skull. The good news is that the scan was fine, and the Dr determined he had a sinus headache. The bad news is that he gave him these horse pills that my kiddo couldn't swallow, so I called and asked to have it changed to liquid . . . which led to fits of drama 3 times a day because you'd think it was poison the way he reacted. Then my husband left it out of the fridge overnight, so I had to get it refilled AGAIN (and pay out of pocket this time) . . . but I got it flavored, so that all worked out in the end. He still gets the headaches, though. Then he came home from school at some point during that time with an injured finger. Hugely swollen around the knuckle, big bruise. Back to the Dr. X-ray. Not broken. Finger splint. His teacher decided he was faking, and pretty much broke his heart (he's always been a kid that teachers adore, so having a teacher say something like that was crushing).
Sophie had sprained her ankle back in May, and reinjured it the day before school started. We treated it as we'd been told to treat after the first injury. After a week or so it wasn't getting better, so I took her to the Dr. We were sent to an orthopedist, who gave her a more substantial ankle brace and sent her to PT. Modified PE until she was cleared. So we've been going to PT twice a week for the past month. MEANWHILE, last week I get a call from school . . . she's doubled over in pain, her side hurts. Can I pick her up? Okay. Don't know what's going on. Send her back to school the next day, but get another call. Doubled over in pain again, please pick her up. I'm still in jammies, writing. I drop everything, try to call the Dr. I am literally on hold from the time I call (as soon as I hang up with the school), until I've thrown on some clothes, DRIVEN to the school, and am walking up the path to the office. Get her an appointment. Dr says it could be ovarian cysts, could be a few things. Let's do an ultrasound. First appointment - a week and a day later (that was yesterday, but hang on, I'm not there yet). So I go to put it on my calendar . . . it interferes with my scheduled fall conference with Jake's teacher, AND Sophie's voice lesson. I email both teachers about rescheduling. Wednesday is early release day, so I've figuring out the timing and we should be good, with all the prep she needs to do beforehand.
Sunday night . . . "Hello Sunset families! This is just a reminder that there will be early release for conferences FOR THE NEXT WEEK AND A HALF." Ummm . . . it would be SO nice if this stuff was on the school calendar. It never is. Monday night . . . "hello Granada families. This is just a reminder about PSATs on Wednesday. There will be NO early release this Wednesday." Are you freaking KIDDING me!?!? The one Wednesday all year . . . I've rescheduled TWO appointment for this test . . . and now I have to reschedule it? So it's NEXT Wednesday.
Tuesday was Sophie's follow up with the orthopedist. She was given the go ahead to go back to regular PE - WOOHOOO!
Tuesday evening we're at a friend's house (45 minutes away), having dinner in her sukkah. It's lovely, and awesome, and Jake sleeps through the entire thing because he had to be up at 6 AM for a field trip. I napped for 2 hours in the morning because my MO is to spend half the night worrying about having to get up earlier than usual. Anyway, we met another family . . . wonderful people, with a trans daughter in 6th grade, and another Jacob a few years younger than my own. Sophie gets up from the table . . . and her knee pops. Pain, swelling. My friend is a pediatric PT, so she takes a look. We need to get her to a Dr. All rightie. She gives us ice for the ride home . . . and I get a call when we're 20 minutes out . . . Sophie left her English books at the house. PSATs are the next morning, she won't need the books until after 12. We make plans to meet halfway in the late morning, so I can get the books.
So yesterday I'm driving Sophie to school. You have everything you need for testing? Yes. Okay. Drop her off. I'm barely back in the door when I get a text. "I don't have my ID, I can't get into the room." Okay . . . where is it? I find it, text her that I'm on my way and to meet me at the front, and jump in the car. Halfway there, I hear the sound of a text. Pull over. "She let me in the room. I can't get out. I don't have a pencil." "I don't have a pencil with me. What would you like me to do?" No reply . . . so I go back home. This was yesterday. If you're counting, before 8 AM, I have THREE crises that I need to solve for her. I have yet to call the Dr because they're not open yet, but I'm hoping I can get her in in the afternoon, so I can still go get her English books. Writing prep? Who has time? Okay, I make an appointment for 2:30. Great. We should be home by 3:30 for her Skype voice lesson. My friend texts: do you want to go indoor rock climbing before we meet? HAAAAAH! No . . . for ALL the reasons. I squeeze in some outlining, and jump in the shower. Meet my friend, having an uber early lunch, and drop Soph's books off at the school.
I come home to reply to a text I'd gotten from Ari while I was out. A young family friend of ours has been chatting with Ari about coming out and asking someone out and (without identifying the friend) do I have any advice. Eventually I ask whether the kid would be willing to talk with me, the answer is yes, she tells me who it is . . . and I chat with him via FB for a while. I didn't have time in my day for it, but it really was THE BEST part of my day. He's a fantastic kid, I adore him. He's exactly Sophie's age, and our families have been friends since his mom and I were pregnant with them.
Okay, so I wait for Jake to get home (he likes to hang around the school, which is just across the street, and help the teacher clean after school) and we go pick up Sophie, take her directly to her appointment. We have 1 hour. The office is 5 minutes from the house. I've emailed her voice teacher that timing may be tight. We wait . . . and wait. 20 minutes later we're still in the waiting room. 25 minutes before her lesson the Dr finally comes in. Soph can't straighten her knee all the way, nor can she bend it. She needs to see an orthopedist. All rightie! Thanks, can we have a PE note, and let's run! We make it back to the house 5 minutes before her lesson. I text the teacher to let her know we're home and I'm booting up the comput . . . what? NOW you want to install updates!?!? NOW??? She does her Skype voice lesson on my phone. Which means I can't call the orthopedist to make an appointment until she's done. This is when I decide someone's playing an elaborate prank on me.
First available appointment at orthopedist is Friday. Okay, we'll take it. She'll miss school, but oh well.
Oh . . . we've been stressing about money because my husband was out of work for a few months last year, and the debt piled up. So I've been trying to find 2 minutes in a row to think about getting a job. At this point I'm thinking "Hahahahhaaaa! Right. Like I'd ever be able to SHOW UP if I had a job!"
And last week 2 things in our kitchen broke. Well, the faucet gave out the week before. But last week the stove burner decided, for the THIRD time in the less than 4 years we've had it, to stop working. Hello repair people and trying to juggle everything else around when they're coming to work.
Last night my husband and I went out. A friend and her company host a free movie night at a local movie theater. Yay! Ummm . . . The Skeleton Twins? Not uplifting.
I missed 2 calls during the movie. One was the expected reminder of Sophie's PT appointment for her ankle, the following day (I'd called to ask what we should do, since she's now injured again, and they said they could focus on some pain relief). The other was from our computer guru from the beginning of this post, with a used laptop in Sophie's price range. Woohoo! I call him back and leave a message, text Sophie that we're on our way home, and Kyle found her a computer.
I get a text back. From Sophie: I feel a lot better texting this to you rather than saying it to you. I want to be gender neutral. I've been trying to say this for day but haven't been able to.
Are you FREAKING KIDDING ME!?!? *deep breath* It's official. Elaborate joke. Has to be. This kid is the girliest of the girly girls. Always has been. And while she has always looked up to and admired her older sibling . . . I just don't see this. But of course I'm going to be supportive. Something else is going on though. She's a kid who spins stuff WAAAAAAY out of control. I kid you not - a fight over brushing her teeth (within the past year) led to "you don't love me, you wish I'd never been born!" So we get home, Kyle calls about the computer, we set a time for him to come over this afternoon, and then I go talk to Soph.
"I'm tired of being judged." Hmmm . . . okay, we can work with this. Do you think Ari is not judged? Because I can guarantee you that they are, and that it does NOT feel good. You will be judged regardless of who you are; we all are. Do you feel like a girl? "No. I don't know." *Light bulb moment* There's this boy, who was her "boyfriend" in 8th grade, and who is a total jerky creep. Last year he tortured her by talking ABOUT her, but not TO her. This year he's been doing worse . . . taking photos of her with his phone without her permission, taking VIDEOS of her . . . and her friend said she saw him in the park across the street, asking where she was. I had asked her if she wanted me to go with her, this past Monday morning, to the office (not for the first time) to deal with this. Then I remembered that I had to be home for the GE repair guy. Go to the office, have them call me if they need to.
So . . . I asked "do you think Jaren would stop bugging you if you weren't a girl?" Yes, maybe.
So I pretty much said . . . you should never have to try and be someone who you're not. Take some time to really think about this. We will always support you, no matter what.
My head is swimming. I have no idea where this will end up going. I truly don't think that Sophie is even remotely genderfluid, but I'm not going to stop her from exploring that if she needs to. But my husband and I are ready to call the cops on the little twerp who's torturing her.
Wait! I forgot . . . while Sophie was sobbing in bed last night during our chat, Jake came in complaining that his foot hurt. I told him to rub it, and sent him back to bed.