I was worried Daughter L was oversleeping today but it turns out it is senior skip day at her school :). I remember my senior skip day, 31 years ago (:() — I played golf. THat was just a few weeks after Jack Nicklaus had surprised the golf world by winning the Masters in his 40s. That was the year I loved golf so much I golfed 3 times a week (walked on as a single on Friday, Saturday and Sunday) and I was starting to play well enough that the golf coach asked if I’d consider playing golf, not realizing I was a senior. Funny how much I loved it then – I don’t feel that way at all now. I don’t know how you can have soo much passion for something then none at all.
I was teased a lot as a kid.
I was short, very skinny and extremely hyper (when Oprah ran a special on Attention Deficit Disorder, several friends called to say I had ADHD 🙂 ).
But something happened late in my teen years. I grew overnight to 5’11”, put on 30 pounds of muscle so I was trim instead of skinny, and calmed down. I started dressing more stylishly. Even my facial features changed (Wife M looks at pictures of me and says she can’t believe it is the same person). Personality wise, I become less impetuous, and my tolerance of others improved. Suddenly, some of the girls who had teased me as a kid were asking me out in college, and I was approached by strangers. All that has no meaning now, except it is much better memories than the ones I had where I was teased, and it has given me a lot of confidence in myself as I age. In the early years, I oversteered – I became a little cocky. But after a few years that too calmed down into quiet confidence, and then I met my future Wife M.
But my point is this — if life had been taken away at 10, 15 or even 20 or 25, I’d never had a chance to change, to evolve, not only looks wise but personality wise (I am a much wiser person I think then even in my 20s). My life would have been — and =eople would remember me as — a small, opinionated, high-strung, homely kid with glasses.
It is such a gift to be given a long life, to change and evolve, to grow as a person. Not everyone gets that chance. So I am very grateful. And how many kids or young adults have died who didn’t get a chance to evolve. Which is one of the many reasons I love the idea of forgiveness and thinking the best of young people, and why our incarceration and imprisonment of so many young men and women is devestating, and one of many reasons of why wars are so tragic.
When I was a high school teacher, I tried to lead by example. So, if my students were doing something, I did the same activity. For example, if my students were watching a movie, I watched the movie (even if I’d seen it 100 times before). If my students were working on a class project, I was working with them on the group project (by going group to group and sitting with each group). And if they had silent reading, I read a book too. Never ever did I grade papers or do prep for another class while class was in session (as my mentor teacher said, if I am telling the students something is important but then not doing it myself, I’m sending the wrong message – so i tried to model the same behavior, and I feel like it helped me build bonds with my students). But I am thinking of one time in particular during silent reading, when I was reading along with my students but the book I was reading was hilarious (it might have been Confederacy of Dunces) so I kept chuckling; I noticed (out of the corner of my eye, since a teacher always tries to keep the peripheral vision going for obvious reasons 🙂 ) the students exchanging smiles then one finally said, not unkindly, “We can’t concentrate because you are laughing.” Then the entire class laughed. I loved that moment. It was a tender moment and thinking of it makes me miss my students. Those students were 16 at the time, and would all be in their 30s today. Wild to think about. But that moment is frozen in time in my memory.
We attended a community (rotary) luncheon where Daughter L was awarded student of the month. She is one of those great teens who doesn’t get a lot of attention because she is low maintenance (but on the other hand all the attention she gets is generally positive), so it was nice that she got some attention yesterday, and also she gave a thoughtful speech where she talked about the perspective she’s learned in school. I was happy for her, that all the blood sweat and tears she puts into school was recognized yesterday.
Another student who was there (was student of the month at another school) was impressive: she gave a thoughtful and heartfelt speech, wants to enter the Army or Marine Corps since her family all did that, then attend law school and become a District Attorney to give a voice to all people. I loved that. I hope she keeps that passion.
I am really very happy with how much our society has progressed in various transgender and sexual rights these past few years. But I am nervous about the number of doctors who are very quick to prescribe hormones to kids to change their sex without digging into what else might be behind what is going on and without fully consider the potential health consequences for trying homron therapy.
Time was, it was a serious matter to change your gender, one that people took seriously and sometimes took years to progress to. For example, Wife M had a friend whose roommate was a man turning into a woman, and she cross dressed for years before really making the change. ALthough she was not on hormones, everyone treated her like the woman that she was, and it was a big deal for her to make that change.
Now, I feel like a lot of kids are taking very serious hormones — which may have long term consequences to health — without really truly experimenting with what that means. We are experiencing this, in fact, with our son R, who is experimenting with hormones without any therapy and after only one doctor’s visit; we asked him to attend therapy to explore whether that was the right decision for him, and even told him to consider dressing and acting as the other sex for awhile so he was sure, but he has leapt right in with the doctor’s blessing. My concern is not someone’s right to experiment – but it’s the health consequences that may result long term if he changes his mind in a few months.
In the 1980s, a lot of therapists and doctors started prescribing prozac like candy as a first act – they literally prescribed it to 100% of their patients. It wasn’t all therapists, but it was enough of them to raise concerns. (Also, prozac was quite famous at the time, and I am sure a number of people went into the therapist and immediately requested prozac). It was only after some exposes discussed the concerns with this that this curtailed. Also, there were quite a few kids around 1990 on anabolic steroids, and it took social intervention (media, etc.) about the health consequences to end that fad.
I have this feeling that this may be true now, with hormones. Even a google search for me did not immediately find any discussions on whether it really and truly is the right case, but primarily how to provide/get emotional support during the transition. For me, the most telling statistic is that kids who are on the autistic/asberger’s spectrum are 25x more likely to experiment with hormone therapy than other kids – which might indicate they feel different, and think hormones are the secret. But, again, my concern is to the health effects.
I am biased on this. I myself took a very serious drug — prednisone — to save my life, and it worked but it had long-term consequences for me that I am still living with, and may always have. And I never took recreational drugs, and am going through a lot of pain right now because I am trying to stay off my pain meds. So I am a firm believer in drugs as a serious item that need to be carefully weighed before taking, whether it is IBProfen or Prednisone or hormones.
Anyway, my two cents. For better or worse, our son is 19 and has always been set in his ways when he makes up his mind, so we have virtually no say on this. The bitter irony is, for years we were pushed by schools to put him on various medications to improve attention span, etc. but we absolutely resisted since M and I did not want to put our son on drugs. He has also been diagnosed with anemia, but will not take medicine for that. In a word, argh. 🙂
WIfe M and I start attending a parent group in a couple of weeks for parents of transgender kids. We want to do the best we can to be supportive but also realistic, and this group will hopefully help.
Son R turned 19 yesterday. He insisted the past week he didn’t want to celebrate — didn’t want us to buy him dinner and didn’t want a cake. But Saturday I went and got a collection of 6 cupcakes anyway, deciding that even if he didn’t want to celebrate I’d at least offer cupcakes to whoever wanted one since the day he was born was an important day to me, too 🙂 Then last night after my inquiring and inquiring (not insisting, just asking) if he wasn’t sure that he didn’t want dinner, he requested Thai food take out. Mother-in-Law J was there too, so I walked down and got take out for Son R, Daughter L and Mother-in-Law J (I don’t like Thai Food so had leftover pizza) and the four of us had dinner and chatted. Then I brought out the cupcakes just as Wife M returned hom from her night out with the girls (Wife M doesn’t like drama — one of the many things I love about her — so she’d had enough asking R about his birthday so made other plans), and we sang happy birthday and had cupcakes. (I also got him a card that all of us had signed, with some cash and a gift card inside). I think it actually turned out to be an awesome birthday evening for him and us. He seemed happy. It was great.
Daughter L went with a fairly large group of friends to homecoming. They met early for pics (all of the parents were there to take photos: we stood along the outside edge smiling and taking photos while the kids clowned around in their moment 🙂 ). They were a nice group if kids and I am happy for them.