“What if she just starts feeling like a boy again?” they inquire, usually with a look on their face that stresses that what I am about to say is critical for their piece of mind. Sometimes the questioner impatiently puts their hand to their chin and squint their eyes as if that makes whatever comes next easier to swallow. Other times they lean in with urgency or lean back with a chill and fold their arms tightly to their shoulders bracing themselves with a self-hug, as if what comes out of my mouth next is some seriously classified information. Regardless of the style, the folks that ask this question are more often than not hinged on my answer.
I have to admit here that I do not have a poker face. If you know me, you’ll start laughing here. It’s true. After dozens of failed attempts at stifling my extremely expressive facial expressions (and throw in hand gestures for good measure) I’ve just come to accept it as a part of me. What can you do? What you see is what you get with me, for better or worse.
“Okay,” I reply and then I just stop. My friends have reported that I usually say this rather quickly, with a smile, one raised eyebrow and a slight shrug. You can imagine the responses…
“What do you MEAN okay?”
“What’s OKAY about that?”
“No, but what are you going to DO?”
It’s about this time I slip into caregiver mode, a “shhhhh… there, there dear…” vibe seeps out of me as I recognize that this person in front of me needs more. More than my okay-ness with my child’s gender identity. More than my casual attitude toward our lives shifting drastically in another direction. More than my quiet acceptance of the future. More.
That’s how some very long and very meaningful conversations begin, with well-intentioned questions, and I love it. The dialogue opens up channels of thought, for both of us. Talking always takes us to the next step. I’m not saying it resolves everything. We may get to a place where we disagree more than we did before, but it’s a jumping off point. That’s exciting stuff to me. I guess that’s why I like to do talks and open the floor up for discussion, to hear people’s thoughts. There is so much out there I’ve yet to learn and I feel ready.
“None of us know what will happen next,” is usually what I return to when I’m talking with someone who wants me to shine up my crystal ball. It’s a fact we can all agree on and relate to, even if it feels foreign at first. It’s an aspect of parenting that we all face, no matter what our family looks like. Parents cannot plan out their children’s lives, no matter how hard we try. If we work like hell to shape them into what we want, we will most often fail. Children are not under our control. I see parents as guides for life. Be ready for your camper to go off course once in a while, it’s their journey.
Inevitably life will take its course and we can hop on the ride or sit by the sidelines planning our next move for eternity. Ditch the map! Enjoy, make the most of it and if you can, share love along the way.