Pasupatidasi's Blog

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happy birthday

i’m not one to allow a big thing to be made of my own birthday.
in fact, years past while living with my eldest daughter’s father, when he’d invite all of our (his) friends for a party using my birthday as an excuse, i used the occasion to gift the revelers instead.

“but it’s your birthday, not mine” they’d say.
“yeah, but my memory’s horrid. i might forget yours when it comes around, so happy birthday!” i’d answer.

so it was that friday night when ziona and i went to my mom’s for a birthday gathering she had initiated, i brought mom an electric griddle for her birthday (upcoming) and my sister some specialty coffees for her cappacino machine.

but the most fun thing about this celebration was the kids.

ziona’s cousins lexi and mikey, (i used to care for them while their mother worked), were there. it is always so much fun to hear the ring of children’s laughter. and they all like me alot because i’m so childish. chasing them pretending to be a tickle monster, turning them upside-down and swinging them about. all great fun. and ziona plays so well with them, perhaps because they used to spend 8 to 10 hours a day at our house, 7 days a week for a couple of years. but maybe not because of that.

ziona spent more than two years, from the time she was 9 months old until a month after her 3rd birthday, in a special toddler program for kids with autism. in all her time there, the closest she’d ever come to interaction was a sort of mirrored ‘parallel play’. a common thing with many autistic kids is the lack of direct interaction. so i was thrilled when we moved here to florida, and at their very first meeting, ziona took to lexi like a long lost friend.

there came a time, tho, when lexi totally betrayed ziona and joined some mean kids in the play area at a chic-fil-a in teasing her on the occasion of her first time out of the house in a dress.

ziona’s hair was very short due to an attempt she’d made at cutting some bangs (to look more girl-like) and so i’d had to cut it to try to even it out. she was very sad and self-conscious of having such a short hairdo so i’d cut mine just as short. it was actually much cooler for us with the summer heat here in the south.

but some of the kids had started to taunt her for being ‘a boy in a dress’ and lexi is a bit of a follower, so instead of standing up for her cousin and friend, she joined the crowd of bullies. of course, ziona didn’t pick up on the fact that the kids were teasing her, until lexi started saying stuff like “yeah, he even plays with barbies” a fact she only knew because they played with them together and she and her mom had even bought her some of them for christmas.

of course i was in the play area with the kids, as every parent is supposed to be when their child goes in there.(i was the only one, as usual) just as ziona had realised that her cousin, her friend lexi was teasing her she looked over to see me gesturing her to ‘come out and eat our food now’. the expression on her face was hurt and confusion.

as she came over to me one of the kids exiting the play area behind us said, “oooh, look! a boy in a dress!”

i spun around and faced the child and said. “what did you say? this is my daughter! i have short hair too. am i a boy in a dress?” the child’s mother admonished her child saying “that’s a girl. now shut up and come over here and eat.”

the relationship between lexi and ziona took well over a year to heal. it was hard for ziona to understand lexi’s behaviour. i explained again and again how some people just aren’t strong enough not to follow the pack, so to speak.

eventually, she forgave her cousin. and they began to have play dates again. my mom did her best to help lexi understand about ziona. why it is she is who she is. no small feat since my mom has told me that she herself doesn’t quite understand it. still, both lexi and my mom have used the female pronoun in referring to ziona. and the unhappy incident at chic-fil-a is a thing of the past.

watching them play together at my birthday party was perhaps the best gift i’d received. when they decided to put on a ‘show’, as lexi likes to do, lexi went out of her way NOT to cast ziona as the daddy, (there was a skit about a family involved) and instead they were the mommy, the transgender mommy and the baby. it was adorable!

as birthdays go this one was right up there as one of the most special i’ve had in recent memory.

so i came home afterward,put ziona to bed, then put on my laurie anderson mp3 that has the song that says “you were born, so you’re free, so happy birthday” and danced around my living room like a crazy person.

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baby steps and gratitude

baby steps

that’s the way we grow
from one level of maturity to the next.

but we do grow…all of us, no matter how old.
still i admit being taken way aback by the
baby step my own 75 year old mom just took!

this is the third christmas that my beautiful and proudly transgender daughter has lived ‘outloud’.
we always go to my mom’s house for part of the holiday, but on zeeona’s first christmas as a
the girl she is, we nearly didn’t make it, because zeeona wanted to wear a dress…one of her beautiful new sweater dresses, and my mom wasn’t comfortable with this.

in the end, mom acquiesced.

since then, altho she hasn’t been able to ‘remember’ to use the feminine pronoun when referring to zee, or even call her by her chosen name, mom has decided to ‘sort of’ ‘kind of’ accept that there’s such a thing as transgender. and knowing that we wont come to visit if there’s a dress-code, she tolerates any outfit my daughter wants to wear.

because zeeona has a wide range of interests, not entirely girly gifts were always apropriate. so mom has always been able to fall back on such things as puzzles, books etc. as gifts that didn’t violate the societally imposed rules for what things a boy or a girl might receive.

this year, when mom called me for suggestions of what to get for zeeona, i was prepared to run through the same sort of gift ideas. i hemmed and hawed a bit before answering…

then mom broke my incoherent string of non-words interspersed with ‘i don’t knows’ and asked, if i thought zeeona would like the pink waffle cotton pajama set she had bought for her…maybe with a matching pair of fuzzy slippers.

to say you could’ve knocked me over with a feather at this point doesn’t nearly do justice to the shock i felt.

not only had mom suggested some quite obviously girlie gifts, but she had used the proper pronoun when asking “do you think she’d like…”

on my end of the phone, with jaw gaping and wide-eyed disbelief splattered across my face, i stammered back saying something like, “yeah, she’d like that i think”. but my mouth was forming words without benefit of my brain, which was still reeling with the realization that my mom had just taken one HUGE baby step!

at the time, i didn’t interupt her to point out that this was the first time she’d referred to zeeona with the proper pronoun. at the time i didn’t think to praise her for choosing a gift that shows her acceptance of zeeona’s reality.

at the time, my surprise overwhelmed me. and later upon reflection, i thought it absolutely necessary to save this praise, and express my gratitude when we are face to face, so she can see my eyes.

if i know me, even tho i have thought about it ever since, blogged about it and ponder what a big step it was for her, when i finally tell her in person just how much it means to me, it will be through eyes brimming with tears of joy and love. and i will definitely need to give her a big hug.

had my mom never been able to ‘get’ to this point, this acknowledgement and acceptance of zeeona’s reality as a transgender girl, it wouldn’t have doomed our relationship. as my mother, she has done so much! so it seems to me out of place to demand growth on the part of our parents, but to applaud them once it occurs is the only right thing to do.

when i do finally see her again, tomorrow, and let her know how much this baby step means to me, unless i miss my guess, my eyes wont be the only ones filled with tears.