Words Are Hard

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Tag Archives: parenting 101

Things I Never Expected To Do On My Days Off

I think maybe I mentioned once or twice, in passing, that I was a mom.  I have  a 16 year old son (I mentioned my age before, and if you remember then yes, you can do the math and yes, yes I was that young).  I don’t talk about my family much because my comfort zone doesn’t extend that far.  But since we’re pushing comfort boundaries here, let me tell you internets, being a parent is an interesting experience.  I’m not good at it.  My kid is fantastic and I have no idea how he ended up that way, because it’s not me.

The Universe is a tricky bastard.  I don’t think it’s out to get me and mine, per se, but it is having some fun experimenting at my expense.  The dialogue goes something like this:

Universe: I see you are turning 18 and graduating from high school soon.  I see also that you are taking birth control and antibiotics at the same time.  Did you know that antibiotics can negate the effects of the pill?  Oh, well that condom broke and you do now.

[TIME PASSES]

Universe: Motherhood is fun huh?  Well here’s a new job that pays you $50 a week.  Make it work!

Me: Yeah okay.

Universe: I see you made it.  Good, good.  Time to go back to school!

Me: Yeah okay, I’m on the deans list?

Universe: …Here.  Have a husband.

Me: I like my husband!

Universe: Congratulations on finding a decent paying job in this struggling economy!  You’re digging yourself out of debt and have a nice place to live!  Everything is going smoothly!  Your kid is doing well in school!  By the way, he’s gay.

Me: I am almost guaranteed not to be a grandmother by accident!  *happy party dance*

Universe:  Right.  Okay.  You shrugged off everything else but how do you handle your kid questioning his gender identity?

Let’s stop there.

Look, every 16 year old on the planet has gone through a period where they’re figuring out who they are, who they like, what interests them, and what they want to do.  So what’s going on here is a) normal and b) no big deal.  What makes me angry is when the rest of the world tells him that it’s a) not normal and b) a big deal.

I don’t like watching my kiddo look down, stutter, twist his hands together and nervously admit that things don’t fit.  Like he thinks he’s broken.  Like he’s wrong.  Like I’m going to get angry with him, even though he knows better.  That sense of shame is not something my kid should ever be carrying around, and yet here we are.

And I am angry.

I can’t snap my fingers and make the rest of the world fall into line, but I can make sure my kid gets what he needs.  So I spent the majority of my days off hunting down information because while I’m moderately more informed than average, I still had no idea where to even begin.  When your kid asks to play on the computer when he’s in the dog house for bad grades, the obvious answer is no.  When your kid asks to speak to a therapist to help him figure out who he is the answer is ohshitGoogle and you start making shot-in-the-dark calls.

And you have no idea how the person on the other end of the line is going to react, so you have no idea how to phrase things.  You officially become the bulwark between the rest of the world and your kiddo because you’re mom and that’s your friggin job.  I got a lot of blank uncomfortable silences when I asked about gender identity so I dropped the coyness and started straight up asking about kids who are possibly transgender (even though the kiddo isn’t sure he is at this point, it’s the word that got the most “Oh!” responses and then I got to back up and explain).  Do you know anyone who works with kids in this group?  Do you know anyone who would know anyone who would… etc etc.

And I live in a moderately rural area.  The closest metropolitan area is Green Bay (yeah, metropolitan in the loosest sense of the word) and that’s about a four-five hour drive away.  So the answer to the question, “Is there a therapist in the area who works with kids questioning their gender identity?” is a resounding nope.  There are several councilors who work with kids who identify as gay/bi/lesbian, but gender-queries are an entirely separate thing that has nothing to do with one’s orientation.  What I needed was someone who knew what questions to ask and who was experienced in this area.

Nope, nada, nyet, non, zilch, zero, go fuck yourself.

But pester enough people and dig deep enough and someone will eventually point you in the right direction, if for no other reason than to get rid of you.  I was put in touch with a councilor from downstate who gave me some good direction, a list of medical tests to get done to rule out any sort of chemical/medical causes, and the name of a local doctor to call and get them done.

So I called and the doctor works for the university and therefore won’t see anyone who isn’t a student/faculty/staff or their families.  Well bugger me then.  Their suggestion was to call the behavioral health center at the hospital.  They couldn’t handle medical requests (I don’t know) and said that the best thing to do was contact his regular pediatrician and get them to do the tests, which puts us back at square one.   I should note, in case it’s not obvious, that my faith in humanity is pretty low, so it wasn’t without a little trepidation that I put in the call to the pediatrician.  Like all my initial calls, I had no idea how they were going to react, and that made me put my guard up, just in case.

I was actually very impressed.  After the initial blink blink, the receptionist put me over to the nurse who also had a very brief blink blink moment before shrugging and getting into the nitty gritty.  She took the list of tests and the name and number of the councilor I spoke to so she could call and make sure they were getting the right labs ordered.  Then she made sure we got an appointment with kiddo’s regular doctor.  That was it.  No judgement, very helpful, and after the initial brief confusion (which I can’t fault them for, honestly, because I’m a wreck at explaining things verbally), got down to business and got things done.

So until then we’re in hover mode.  The appointment isn’t until January, so there’s time.  After the initial rush, the kiddo’s fine with waiting, because things are actually happening.  It’s just slow, which is life.  Once we get the test results we’re on to phase two which is…

…You know what.  I have no idea.  We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

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