I wrote a while ago about some glimpses our younger kid, Ira (age 3), has given us into the challenges of my transition for him, his feeling a “little bit sad about that” and “wishing you would stay Mama,” his hesitance for us to share the information that I’m trans (or in his parlance “Aba’s new name” — he initially asked that we not tell his daycare teachers, though eventually he said he thought it was OK).
Just as with our older kid, it seems his firmest and most clearly stated struggle came just before a deeper acceptance and comfort.
Almost immediately after that night that he and I talked, he completely switched to calling me Aba all the time (he’d been about 50/50). From my side, it feels good. I love that when I’m out with him, he doesn’t automatically ID me as female to anyone within earshot by calling to me. But what feels much nicer than that is to see him comfortable, settled more happily into our new form as a family.
In that conversation, I had outed our friend J (one of Ira’s absolute favorite grown-ups) as trans, or rather, as “having a girl body when he was little” (we have clearance from J to do so). At the time Ira was a little sad about that, too, so it was interesting that about a week ago, Ira was alone with J for a bit, and asked “Were you always an Aba?” J’s response was, “Well, just barely” (he more firmly transitioned only just before he had kids, after a fairly extended stay in a more middle ground) and explained a little bit more. Apparently Ira dropped it after that, but seemed really comfortable, and they had their usual grand time.
There was also a moment at daycare a couple days ago that shows a new level of comfort for him. For the daycare conversation to seem at all appropriate, you first have to understand our daycare a little bit. It’s very small, about 13 kids total (10 on a given day), run by an older couple who started the daycare when their youngest kids were babies. Those “youngest kids” are now 25. The daycare is something of a neighborhood legend, and they have an amazing way of interacting with and understanding kids, and of guiding and supporting us as parents. Having our kids with them has been like having an extra set of extremely smart and involved parenting companions and mentors, people who know and love our kids deeply and understand what makes our family tick.
Partially because we have such an intense relationship with them, and because we value their input so much (and to be honest, I care pretty deeply about what they think of us as parents), I was really nervous to come out to them. I was worried this might be a bridge too far, that they would jump to the conclusion this would hurt our kids, that we would lose their respect, that they would handle things innappropriately at the daycare. I feared we might lose this great support and resource that we’ve had for the last 3 1/2 years.
In fact, their reaction was the polar opposite. It turns out they have a trans nephew, and our daycare providers have taken the lead understanding what’s going on for him, and bringing the rest of their extended family along. The night we told them, it turned out they’d already figured it out already. They offered their complete support, and were openly admiring of how we’ve been talking about all of this with the kids.
We talked that night about inevitable conversations at the daycare, and we know they talk really straightforwardly and frankly with the kids about all kinds of things (which is one reason we love them).
So I wasn’t so surprised when a couple days ago, they reported a conversation that had happened in which a group of kids was talking together about how all boys have penises. They brought it up themselves, and one of the daycare providers (we’ll call her M), was brought into the conversation. She said, “You know, actually, not all boys have penises.” This apparently brought a round of giggles, but Ira smiled. M said “Right Ira? Your dad is a boy but he doesn’t have a penis right?”Ira’s reaction was a broad smile and enthusiastic agreement. The other kids giggled, and this apparently shifted to a bit of a lesson about how laughing about things like that can hurt peoples feelings (did I say how amazing they are at teaching social skills?), but our son was totally comfortable, and seemingly really happy for this bit of acknowledgment, and not at all put off by the giggles.
I’d gotten the report from M, but later, Ira reported the conversation too, with a broad grin, seemingly very excited that my existence was affirmed by his teacher.
Now, it might seem strange that I’m happy my kids daycare was talking about what’s in my pants. In almost any other context, I wouldn’t be. If it was a big daycare center where we didn’t know people well, or I wasn’t confident we had staff support, then it would not have felt OK at all. But we already have these conversations ourselves, and one of the reasons we love our daycare is that they speak so frankly and clearly to the kids, so you know? I totally don’t mind. I just love that my kid seemed so content and confident, and so happy to have this piece of his life understood and explained.
So, it seems that bit by bit, Ira gets to a new place, and our family continues to take shape, each of us in our own way.