Sunday, November 10, 2013

DJ's first wedding

Two weeks ago, DJ attended the first family wedding since she came out four years ago. Nightingale got married and we were thrilled to share in her day.

DJ and I had attended Nightingale's shower sometime back-another first for her by way of "female traditions."  Most of "the Roses" were there:  this is a nickname the female granddaughters share as they each took their grandmother's name in one form or another.  DJ took this name as one of her middle names when she changed her name a couple of years ago, which touched her grandfather.

So, we ordered her a fabulous dress and as the morning of the wedding dawned, DJ was a bit nervous. She indicated that it was because she was going to be around a lot of people she hadn't seen in awhile and many she didn't know.  I reassured her, as we met her aunt and uncle (Bulldog's sister and brother-in-law who we'll call Samba King and Tenderheart) for breakfast, that meeting up with them would be a great way to get her feet wet since both of them are such gentle souls.  Sure enough, an hour later, she felt more confidant after breakfasting with Samba King and Tenderheart who fussed over her.

At the wedding, she and her cousin, who we'll call Belle (because she reminds me of the cartoon heroine, she's so pretty and sweet) acted like two young ladies do at weddings:  they danced and giggled.  Then her cousin Sullivan (whom I name after "Annie Sullivan" the "miracle worker" of the Helen Keller story because of her gift with autistic children) got her dancing, and Sullivan's husband, Golf Junkie, got her laughing.

Then her beloved Uncle Raucous asked her to dance.  He's had a special place in his heart for DJ from when she was known as JD.  JD used to give Uncle Raucous hell, which made Raucous roar with laughter.  I think it was more of an adjustment for him than he ever let on to let go of JD, but he has completely embraced DJ, as evidenced by his dance invitation.

When all the Roses gathered for a photo for Grandpa (who was ill and only a week  from passing away), DJ included, of course, I nearly cried.  Then, for the last song of the night, Bulldog excused himself from asking me to dance so he could ask his other best girl, his only daughter, to dance.  It was too sweet for words.  Yes, it was definitely Nightingale and Sir Nightingale's night (he too is an RN), but it was a wonderful evening for our girl too.  Good stuff all around :)

How to be non-agressively battle ready

Dear Family members whose loved one is Transgender,

If your child has just come out to you, you will be in the middle of one of the hardest conversations you will ever have.  And it will be the first of many.  You might have to figure out how to explain to the staff at your pediatrician's office to start calling your child Jesse instead of Jessica.  You might have to break the news to your child's guitar instructor that last week, he knew your child as Nathan and now he must be ok with the same kid arriving on Thursdays after school, going by the name of Nancy and be prepared for Nancy to be wearing what any child named Nancy might be wearing.

These conversations can be awkward.  You may feel paralyzed with fear about what may happen.  You might even worry what the person on the receiving end of your message might be thinking of you.  Awkward is an understatement:  excruciating, terrifying, mortifying might be more accurate.  And then, don't be surprised if these feelings are all accompanied by a chaser of GUILT:  guilt that you are worried about yourself, guilt that you don't want to have these conversations, guilt that you may wish your kid's insides matched her outsides so you could avoid all  of this.

What will follow are the even harder conversations: explanations to Great Aunt Mary how the kid she played cards with that one late night is growing her hair out, and no longer wears the oversized t-shirt and baggy jeans like her brothers did.  The conversation where you draw the line in the sand for any family member or friend who will not accept your child as the person he or she knows that he or she really is, regardless of what the genitalia and birth certificate say.

Fake it 'til you make it, ladies and gents. If you speak apologetically during these conversations, you will be treated as if you (or your child) have done something wrong; if you speak as you're frightened, don't be surprised by an angry response; if you speak as if you feel responsible, you will likely be cast as the "bad parent."  BUT, if you speak as if naturally you would believe your child, naturally you will support your child, naturally you will treat your child as he or she wants to be treated, and naturally you expect the person to whom you are speaking to do the same, you are more likely to be facing a person who will acquiesce, whether that person accepts your message as truth or not.  Your best defense is an excellent offense, but we don't need to be offensive.  Simply straightforward and matter-of-fact would be the best posture.  You are forewarning the listener of what exactly you will tolerate by your calm and confident demeanor (again-fake it, if necessary!!) which is this:  I will tolerate your questions, your unknowing misunderstanding and your confusion.  I will not tolerate your willful ignorance or misunderstanding of my child and my decision to support and love my child.

Put on your suit of armor before you do this, however.  It would be foolhardy to go to a gunfight with a squirt gun.

For more support in this, listen to what this fabulous woman has to say about hard conversations and closets:

And keep supporting your child-you're wonderful!!!