A Mother's Journey


March 27
I am the mother of a "girl of truth," which is to say a child who has the soul of a girl in a body of a boy. This is the story of one child's path to acceptance through the eyes of her mother.


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FEBRUARY 4, 2010 1:09AM

Finding some balance in the gender spectrum

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Gender fluidity is a phenominally cramazing ("crazy" and "amazing") thing. Every so often when I start to feel like I’ve got a handle on what it all means, it is only precisely then—and not a moment sooner—that “Alex” (aka GirlyBoy) reminds us of his colorful mix of gender expression.


There always has been a side to him that identifies as a boy. It doesn’t bubble to the surface very often, but when it does, he embraces it passionately. For instance, he has always appreciated a good fart joke, almost to a fault. No, not almost. Definitely to a fault. When his BFF, “Tania”, taught him how to make a fart sound by cupping his hand under his armpit, he practiced for hours until he had perfected it. This trick has provided him miles of entertainment as he hops naked around the house like a frog, flapping his arm like mad with his other hand shoved into it, making the crudest, loudest, most repulsive and honest-to-goodness spot-on fart sound, and cracking himself up in the process. And with equal parts reservation and embarrassment (add a smidge of admiration), I must admit that he has also developed a keen knack for on-demand flatulence. The real kind. The talent he has recently perfected, though, is actually blasting out songs and rhythms from his bottom, much in the way some people have taught themselves how to burp the ABC’s. For the more refined class of people, this sort of behavior is crass and tactless. But, then again, I never claimed to be a Blueblood, which is why I typically find it hilarious (until it’s over-performed, which most of the time, it is).


In fact, I will even own some of the blame for this behavior. No, I didn’t teach him this popular parlor trick; but while I try not to outwardly encouraged it, I have not exactly discouraged it either. Quite frankly, I find his talent in this regard to be nothing short of astounding, so any feeble attempts to remind him of good manners with a straight face were immediately followed by my own stifled snickering, and in some cases, applause and commendation. I couldn’t even take my own reprimands seriously, so naturally how could he?


Another great source of humor for him for as long as he has been verbal is poop. I am certain there are exceptions to this rule, but for the life of me, I can’t think of a single female child who could entertain herself to the extent that my kids can with poop talk.


Before “Mickey” (aka BoyBoy, his “God given (read: chosen) name” after one very popular mouse in red shorts) was born, Alex would laugh to the point of uncontrollable hiccups simply by hearing (or saying ) the words “poop in a shoe.” This huge comedic hit ran far past its due course in our house. And yet, when it was reintroduced to Mickey (by Alex, of course), it found renewed appreciation with the younger set. “Poo in a shoe - Take 2” so to speak.


Last weekend proved to me that there is something interesting going on beneath the surface, which reiterates the positive traction we’ve gaining lately.


On Friday evening a half hour before bedtime, Mickey insisted on pulling out all the wooden trains and tracks, of which there are several huge baskets full. In the past, as patience and time allowed, we have all enjoyed building complex rail systems including bridges, tunnels, and cross-overs. It seems that whenever we pull them out, Alex is instantly tuned in. Something about the miniature size, the strategy and planning so that all the pieces interconnect properly—he just becomes completely engaged.


We set up separate tracks for Alex and Mickey. As it worked out, “Michael” (GirlyBoyPapa) and I had already decided to restrict their media diet they had been used to getting on Saturday mornings, and leaving the tracks out on Friday night seemed to fit nicely with that plan.


When the boys woke up on Saturday morning, they got started playing with the tracks right away. They played, and played, and played, right up until we needed to leave for a late morning appointment.


While this act in and of itself may not be at all remarkable, the balance of the weekend proved to be completely out of character. For the first time that I can remember, Alex and Mickey got along beautifully for an extended period of time. There was no yelling. No fighting. No (-t much) bossing. They required no parental intervention.


Fast-forward to Monday night, Mickey actually requested Alex snuggle with him in bed. Wide-eyed and determined to go with the flow, I agreed… just to see what would happen. What happened next made my heart overflow with awe, love, and gratitude. They fell asleep. In the same bed! Not one to willingly pass up a good photo op, I raced through the house to find a camera with enough memory and batteries to freeze this precious moment in time. I have 11 friends on Facebook who agree with me, that that was one darned cute picture.


The goodwill in our house seems to be continuing the momentum, too. Today when I picked Alex up from school, he said in a very coy way, “Mrs. Teacher is going to call you tonight.”


While I relish in this recent wave of perfect behavior, old memories die hard. I found myself reacting in a defensive way. “Uhhhhh ohhhh… whaaaat happened?” I didn’t know whether to believe what he was about to say. Was this build up his awkward way of sharing good news with me?


“Nothing. I only got one warning. I got a star for today!” Big grin. I wanted to believe him, but he has fibbed in the past, so I couldn’t be sure. But not wanting to let on that I was doubtful, I went with it.


“You did? That’s fantastic! I’m so proud of you!” Hugs. Kisses on top of his head.


Later this evening while I was renewing myself at a long-overdue yoga class, Michael took the call from Mrs. Teacher. Indeed, Alex had a spectacular day. “The best day yet!” And on the Preschool side of the house, Mickey, too, received abundant commendations for great hilarity and easiness throughout the course of his day,which has been long in coming.


I’m not sure what to owe this wonderful shift in dynamic: Alex' recent counter-balancing on the gender spectrum? The new therapist? Natural cognitive development? A better handle on the anxiety and OCD? My own reversion to taking care of myself again? Whatever it is, though, that is going on in my house these days, it feels like a slice of Heaven. It feels like what being a mom is supposed to be all about. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! J


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"Whatever it is, though, that is going on in my house these days, it feels like a slice of Heaven. It feels like what being a mom is supposed to be all about. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!"

Congratulations! So nice to hear.
When my baby sister was 4-5, any story about any person, historical, fictional, or right there in the room was greeted with one question:
"Where and when did they poop?"
There is something very funny about potty humor, and I kind of want to hear a recording of your son's fart songs.
I'm so happy for you! This is a wonderfully written post, so full of hope and joy. I'm glad the brothers are bonding. They will need each other's strength.

Much love to you and your family!
Whatever it is, be sure to take time to enjoy it as it seems you are!!! Nothing like two siblings really getting along.
Enjoy it while it lasts....
Such good news. Those times are SO precious. Maybe the train/no TV is - ummm - can we hope for 'magic?'
Savor the moment is what I say!
This is so fun, thanks for sharing this. Rated.
I just discovered your terrific post. Now I will go back and catch up._r
I'm glad to know that Alex is doing well. I think you might be missing the point, though. Fascination with farts and poops is not necessarily "boyish." It's a normal developmental stage for both boys and girls, as they begin to realize that there are cultural taboos about "bathroom stuff." There is a natural impulse, at that point, to test those boundaries by doing armpit farts, making poop jokes and all that. My six-year-old charge does all those things with glee. She's also a throughly girly girl, who loves fancy dresses, elaborate hair accessories, tutus, lip gloss and her collection of American Girl dolls.
There was a vaudville act in which the performer farted out songs. I understand he was quite the hit with everyone except those seated in the first couple of rows.