Sublimely Sixteen

Elizabeth is sixteen now. It is easy to get lost in thought while trying to come up with something coherent to say about her. I’ve pondered talking about her birth story. About her active nature even in the womb. I want to talk about how she knew how to get the attention on her from the very first minute of her very first day.

You see, Elizabeth bears herself with power. She owns that power and doesn’t let anyone forget it. Yes, she’s sixteen and has her angst. She also cuddles like a fiend. She is beautifully active–from riding her bike to school and everywhere else to swinging from some silk at the top of the Actor’s Gymnasium.

She’s lively. I see her light up a room with a smile. I see her stick up for the underdog. As she get older, I see more and more empathy for the disadvantaged and care about the forgotten. Yes, I still tell her to check her privilege–but not as much as I do the other children.

Elizabeth combines her confidence and power with extraordinary intelligence. She sometimes hides that in her efforts to spite people she does not respect. Yes, of course, that is cutting off her nose to spite her face, but it is how she does things. You are left in no doubt that she COULD do something if she chose to do it.

An example: Elizabeth, like her siblings before her, like her mother, chose to learn to play an instrument. Unlike her siblings and mother, she actually set forth and practiced for hours. She taught herself entirely–no lessons, no class, no “you need to practice if you want to be any good.” She decided to play. She looked up how to do what she wanted to do. She keeps at it. That strength and determination will get her far.

Even though you might think this house is a battle zone sometimes, with all the kids willing to blame Elizabeth for being a “hellspawn” and a “brat” there is also an intense love for her. Part of that is because she very much typifies “I am allowed to say and do everything I want to my family, but say one word truly against them and you are done.” There is a lot of love in Elizabeth. She is fierce in that love.

Lizzy and RJ Cuddling

Speaking of love, she has her first “real” boyfriend this year. She seems to be handling the relationship with far more maturity than I had at her age. She is clear on her limits. She didn’t freak out when I gave my standard know why you are having sex and do you remember how and what and when you need to use birth control. She brings the boy over and exposes him to her family. Not only that–he seems to have the character to not only tolerate it but seems to enjoy it. That is far rarer than you might think. By the time you’ve raised five out of six kids to young adulthood, plus some strays, you see a lot of love interests come and go. It does my heart good to see that raising a confident, smart, young woman can mean attracting kids who have some of the same values.

Elizabeth also loves the dogs with a passion. She will yell that they are wild. Crazy! Eat her stuff. She tells me we have too many and in the next breath she says “we should rescue more.” She’s also a big fan of cats, hedgehogs, oh, pretty much every animal.

Yes, Elizabeth is challenging. She is hot-blooded. She is sometimes the child that makes me laugh and cry at the same moment because she is right–but not right. I want to scoop her up and keep her cuddled next to me always…but also know that of all the children–she is the one most uniquely qualified to take the world by storm, on her own terms, and be the amazing change we all want in the world.

Happy Birthday Elizabeth. Anything. Anywhere. Anytime. I love you Little Bit.

 

Nudity? What my kids think drives traffic

So, in light of my desire to increase traffic to prove I can do it–I surveyed the kids, actually just the 18 yo and 16 yo, about how to increase traffic. These are their ideas:

  1. Nude Celebrities (maybe photoshopped with food?)
  2. Nude Food Bloggers
  3. Female nudity should just be “boobies” because “no one” wants to see nether regions.
  4. Me nude interviewing celebrities and/or chefs
  5. Me nude interviewing nude food bloggers

Considering these are children who freak out if I am changing my shirt in my own bedroom when they barge in, they seem to think I need to get naked on the Internet in order to get traffic.

This makes me wonder what they are looking at on the Internet. It also makes me wonder why they believe traffic is always about nudity. Remember–these aren’t young children. These aren’t children who grew up without a view of the Internet.

Little do they know that most of my traffic is to a post about Brim Coffee. No nudity there…just a lost product that helped people who didn’t like acidic coffee.

Brim

The Pronoun Game

Once upon a time, not so long ago and a lifetime ago, Denise had a job where she had to play the pronoun game at work. Those of you who are straight probably wonder what that means. It means that each sentence that referred to me or our family was carefully constructed without “she/her/girlfriend.” It was soul sucking and yet what she had to do in order for comfort. Everyone at her job knew me and us. It was just the forward facing part that was a problem.

I’ve thought a bunch about that since March 27. You see, I have been playing the pronoun game about one of my children. My first born. For those keeping track: Denise gave birth to three–the three oldest. I gave birth to three–the three youngest. The oldest has been referred to here as College Boy, boychild, the prince, and lately as first born.

Why? Because on March 27 that child texted me. “In other news–surprise, I am trans.” Yes. Instantly. After 20+ years of being the mother of a son, I had another daughter. The sudden change from son to daughter may not seem like that big of a deal. It is still the baby I gave birth to, the one I fell in love with, the one I love still. But, I am no longer a biological mother of a son.

Stop! Right now. Don’t tell me that she is lucky to have such an accepting family. Don’t tell me it is wonderful. Don’t for a second think this is any easier, just because she has queer parents.

No, we didn’t disown her or yell. Ok. That’s who you are, how are you going to handle this?  I changed son to daughter on Facebook (but non one noticed). The child gave me permission to blog that same week, but I didn’t.

The whole mommy thing is hard. (Yes. I know. Far harder to be TG. Got it. That’s her story. Mine is being the mother.)  The name change is hard. The being a different mother is hard. The pronouns–hard to remember. Yes, I’ve had nearly 4 months. Ava (the child’s new name) is not here a lot. College, summer job, adult with friends in town. I will get it.

In the meantime, for various reasons, the little girls didn’t wait to get their ears pierced until their first period and their stepmother took them. I missed out on a big rite of passage with them. When Ava told me she was trans, I grabbed the chance. “If you decide to get your ears pierced, promise I get to take you.” I never really thought it would happen. Ava hates needles. Turns green. Faints. Vomits. Always has.

But, tonight we went. She got her earlobes pierced. I got my cartilage pierced with a matching earring.

I took a selfie. One of the few I’ve taken in the past few months. Just in time for BlogHer. No more pronoun game. a mother and child selfie. Me. My daughter Ava, I am so glad to welcome her to this spinning world.

My Daughter and Me

About Our Pack

dogs at the dog park Pack life See those dogs? That is our pack. Three hound dogs. No they aren’t related. We did get all of them from the same shelter. (Wright-Way Rescue) They are all mixed breeds of varying sorts. Left to Right in the picture with them in bed…Buster not quite one. Then Skeeter Bess–first adopted but about a month younger than Lola–both two years old now.

We adopted all of them within 14 months. It was after a lot of talk of our forever home dog. This dream dog was loosely based on Denise’s mother’s dog–Duncan and my childhood dog Ginger.

Instead we have three coonhounds–who did actually alert us to a sick raccoon in our yard last week.

Buster and Skeeter are about 50lbs each give or take. Lola is 35 lbs. They all believe they are lapdogs. They sleep a lot. They run a lot. But…they do other weird things.

  • Skeeter Bess is a tattle tale. If Buster in particular is breaking a rule–Skeeter will come to tell me ALL about it. Now if Buster’s ill-gotten gains are interesting to Skeeter–she will helpfully take them away and eat/destroy them herself.
  • Lola and Buster can both jump extra tall baby gates. Skeeter does not. She also is the least likely to open one herself if it isn’t latched. (They are the swing open type)
  • Skeeter and Buster alone together sleep. Lola and Buster alone together sleep. Skeeter, Lola, Buster all in the same room means play time or argue time.
  • Lola will not eat her kibble in general until someone is in there threatening to take it away because breakfast or dinner is over.
  • Skeeter and Buster will do anything they understand for a treat. (Buster’s exception is below) Lola doesn’t care.
  • All three love their heartworm medicine and consider it the biggest treat on the planet.
  • We weren’t crazy dog ladies. We’d both grown up with and had as adults various dogs. Mostly one at a time. Our first years as a couple we had two–the mother/son couple Chanel and Jake that Denise got in the way she always ends up with pets. Then just Jake and when my mother moved in Jake and Koto. Then just Koto.  We never imagined after Jake passed away that we would get three more dogs. After adopting Skeeter we sort of wanted another dog to keep up with Skeeter. She was young and energetic. Also, she turned our life upside down. Instead of running errands and spending the weekend in bed, we were taking her to the dog park. We adopted Lola and then were in a 5K.
  • Buster is the tallest of the bunch. He is also afraid of strangers. VERY VERY AFRAID. Strangers is a broad term that includes children who haven’t been home in a while, the landlord that visits at least once a month, delivery people, people staying with us. He won’t eat with strangers in the house. He won’t take any sort of treat. He shakes.
  • His fear of strangers means he plants himself on the bed. If you come to the bedroom and sit on the bed and wait you will eventually get to pet him. This makes said “strangers” very happy. (even if it is a girlchild who is here alternating weekends and more)
  • When they are running wild they are dangerous. Buster and Skeeter both have slammed us to the ground in the house.
  • Buster walks pretty well on a leash–see fear of strangers.
  • Exception: at the dog park. The distance between the parking lot to the gate to the dog park means I am being dragged by 100 lbs of excited dog. Once in the park–the dogs mind and keep in sight, come when called. (exception–last weekend Buster got lost–he started down the path with Skeeter between the pond access points. There were a lot of people. He doubled back beyond us and was back at the first pond access point scared because he didn’t see his pack.
  • They love the dog park with unparalleled abandon. Running through the tall grass with just the tips of their tails showing. Splashing in puddles. Rolling in puddles, dead frogs, dead snakes. Sniffing new dogs.
  • While they enjoy splashing in puddles at the park–puddles in the back yard are a complete insult and they dare not get their feet wet. (except Buster who enjoys the backyard that floods in every heavy rain)
  • Buster is the only one who has kept a hound song. Skeeter had one but lost it–she now barks like a poodle. We heard one recently at the dog park who sounded JUST LIKE HER. Makes sense I suppose since the second highest breed in her DNA after treeing walker coonhound was poodle.
  • Skeeter is very intent on herding the other two, correcting them when they disobey, and generally a nuisance. She also is the first one to roll her eyes at Buster insanity.
  • Lola pushes Denise out of bed in the morning to get a better spot.
  • Lola has a high prey drive and will try to get squirrels, birds, anything that moves outdoors. Lola does some intricate parkour type moves in chasing squirrels. She also loves to just BE outdoors.