C.J. Returns To Palm Springs…Finally

Since his first trip there in May of 2011, Palm Springs has been C.J.’s favorite destination. He refers to it fondly as the “the place with the rainbow flags.”

We kept C.J. away from his town for much too long. So, a few weeks ago, we surprised C.J. and Chase by picking them up early from school and heading to Palm Springs. C.J. squealed with delight the entire way there.

“Did you pack some of my dresses?” he asked as we drove.

“Yes.”

“My lip gloss?”

“Yes.”

“My nightgown?”

“Yes.”

“My leave in conditioner?”

“Yes.”

And so it went, on and on during the two-hour drive.

We stayed at a truly fabulous house owned by one of my readers. The house is called, fittingly for C.J., Palm Springs Glam — or PS Glam for short.

PS Glam

C.J. has decided that when he grows up he is going to move to Palm Springs and live in the PS Glam House. He is not concerned what the home’s owners think of his plans.

Until he’s ready to leave our un-glam home, he’d like to have a PS Glam inspired bedroom. He refers to PS Glam as if it is it’s own interior design style.

Waiting for us in the fridge were a dozen rainbow cupcakes from Over The Rainbow Desserts. I scored major points when I let the boys (and Matt) eat them not only for dessert, but for breakfast too.

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These pictures hung in the room C.J. claimed for his own and now he wants them to hang in his bedroom at home as well. I cannot say yes to his request at this time.

“That girl is a hot mess!” he said when he first saw the pictures.

“That’s two different girls, not one,” I informed him.

“Wow, that’s two hot mess girls. Are they friends?”

“I don’t think so.”

“I like them. I think they’re funny. I want those pictures in my room.”

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Within 30 minutes of our arrival, we pleasantly realized that Palm Springs still does something to C.J. He feels free there. Like he can breathe uninhibited there. And, run around the grass in his grandmother’s nightgown there.

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He was so in his element and inspired, that he insisted on a photo shoot.

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After a long day of modeling, he put on his favorite shirt, a purple tee with cap sleeves that says “I woke up like this,” and paired it with his tight white shorts. He played in the misters in front of the restaurant, twirling, dancing and entertaining those who dined alfresco. When the misters started to turn his shorts translucent, I said it was time to go.

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We walked the strip and C.J. commented on many sights. For a brief moment, he wanted to be this for Halloween because it reminded him of Katy Perry. I love Katy Perry, but I would not love this outfit on my seven-year-old. So, I’m glad he changed his mind.

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He also wanted this mask, but was very disappointed by whoever merchandised the window because he did not approve of the mask paired with a plaid, flannel shirt. He talked about that for a while.

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The next day, before we left, C.J. worked on some of his fashion designs.

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And enjoyed pool time with his Dad while Chase and I watched a movie.

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When we were packing up to leave the PS Glam House, C.J. saw a postcard with pictures of other properties owned by my reader. He studied those pictures like he was picking Christmas presents out of the Target catalog.

“I want to have my next birthday party at that house,” he said referring to the PS Mid-Century House. “And, then I want to keep it as my present.”

I think C.J. is bound to make a home in Palm Springs…whether that home’s owners like it or not.

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Friday Fodder: Bid On Me Edition

Okay, I try not to ask for much. But, here I am asking for something. I am on the board of the Orange County Equality Coalition’s School Compliance Task Force. Which is a long away of saying that I’m part of a group of people who are dedicated to making sure that schools in our county are treating LGBTQIA youth equally and abiding by the laws the state set forth to protect them.

This coming Thursday is our annual fundraiser. It’s a fancy gala. I will wear a cocktail dress and heels and stay out past 10 p.m. – that’s how important it is. You’re invited, you can buy tickets here. It’s only $35 dollars for some wine, small bites, entertainment and good company.

More than that, we are having a silent auction. Can you please check out the items up for bid and considering bidding? You’ll notice you can bid on a copy of my book and a lunch/coffee date with me. I’d love to meet you! Please bid!

Monies raised will fund the monitoring and support of Orange County schools in their efforts to comply with state and federal anti-discrimination laws, safe school laws and the FAIR Education Act.

* * *

Some of my best friends are writing powerful things. Read them!

Why my family marches in the Pride parade every year, SheKnows.com, by the amazing Cory Byrom, dad to a gender nonconforming son who is more fabulous than I’ll ever be.

My Little Brony: A Tale of Heartbreak, TheClutteredHouse.com, by the equally-amazing Cluttered Mama, mom to a little boy who just wants My Little Pony underwear.

* * *

Here are other things that interested me this week:

Making it Easier for your Child to Come Out: 10 Tips for Parents and Caregivers, OutProudFamilies.com

Time Names Transgender Teen One of 25 Most Influential, Time.com

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C.J.’s Glitter Glitter Fashion Show

C.J.’s favorite thing to do right now it put on elaborate fashion shows. Each one takes days of concentration and preparation. Some days he can hardly focus and sit still long enough to complete his second grade homework, but he can spend hours on his latest show. If fashion shows were a school project he’d get an A++. But, alas, he is graded on things like reading, not runways.

Here’s his to-do list for each show:

  • Decide on a theme, trend and inspiration
  • Create the stage and runway (he most often uses his Build-A-Bear’s bed as the runway)
  • Choose music (Kesha remains his favorite)
  • Make sure he has enough fishing line to suspend the models
  • Pull looks
  • Select models
  • Write an intro to the show
  • Appoint an emcee (it’s always me because he says he’s too busy worrying about the details to do this)
  • Hire a cameraman (Chase always does this even though he’d rather be playing The Sims)
  • Have a dress rehearsal
  • Find an audience (that’s always Matt)
  • Put on the fashion show (at last)

C.J. wanted me to share one of his fashion shows with you. (You will quickly see that I am an amateur at iMovie and he deserves better than me. But, I’m what he’s stuck with.)

Also, he wants you to know that at 2:12 in the video “the grand finale starts and the models start dancing on the runway and being crazy girls and they are wearing fancy dresses because they are going to a wild party when the fashion show is over.”

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Should I Start School As A Boy Or A Girl?

Back to school is a notoriously tough season for us. It’s not because we have to wake up and get going earlier than we did all summer (which, yes, sucks). And, it’s not because our days (once again) become dominated by schedules, homework and packing lunches.

photo 3Back to school marks the annual peak in C.J.’s anxiety levels (which, in turn, makes me more anxious than usual, though I try not to show it, especially to C.J.). For C.J., it marks the start of weeks and months of self-editing and agonizing over every little decision.

Will he wear girl clothes to school? Will he use the bathroom or hold it all day? Will he be brave enough to carry the “girls” backpack and lunchbox he cherishes? Will he let his classmates see his true, colorful, quirky, fabulous, sparkly, sassy self?

Or, will he play it safe?

The start of first grade was the worst. He took baby steps (and sometimes no steps) toward being his authentic self and finally started sharing his gender nonconforming ways with his classmates and classroom a full three months into the nine-month school year. He didn’t feel truly accepted and comfortable until five months after that first bell rang.

It’s little things, like picking a Monster High lunchbox, but refusing to carry it – opting, instead, for a plain brown paper bag – until November and not wearing a headband to school until March. The days leading up to finally carrying the Monster High lunchbox and rocking the headband were filled with questions and false starts.

“Should I take my Monster High lunchbox tomorrow?…I’m going to do it…I’m going to take it….Do you think the kids will make fun of me?…Do you think anybody will bully me?…Maybe I’ll just wait until tomorrow…”

photo 2My heart breaks with each step in the deliberation process, as I let him make his own decisions while reminding him that his father and I are supportive of whatever he decides because we love him no matter what.

This August and into September, C.J. was getting excited, not anxious. I worried that his usual slow, two-week climb up Anxiety Mountain would, this year, be a race to the top in two days. I was bracing myself.

But, it never came.

Then, the night before school was to start, as we were packing backpacks, C.J. turned to me.

“Mom, I can’t decide.”

“Decide what?”

“When I start second grade tomorrow, should I start as a boy or a girl?”

I panicked, and not because my son might be my daughter, but because a social transition like he was suggesting takes at least more than the 12 hours he was giving me – eight of which we were supposed to be asleep.

“I think that’s up to you. That’s a question that only you can answer,” I said calmly while feeling anything but.

“But, what do you think? Just tell me!” he insisted.

“I think you should go as you. I like you.”

“So, I should go as a boy because I’m a boy? A boy who likes girl stuff?”

“If that’s who you are.”

“That’s who I am.”

“Cool.”

After I got C.J. and his brother to bed, I watched reality television and ate four more chocolate chip cookies than I should have, in an attempt to soothe my aching heart. I worried that the next day — the first day of school — would be drenched in anxiety.

It wasn’t.

photo 2C.J. carefully laid out his outfit. Yes, it was decidedly more masculine than first day outfits from years past and much more so than the clothes he wore during the freedom of summer, but the decision wasn’t painful for him. He wore blue and purple plaid shorts and a polo shirt with a necktie printed on it because he thought it was “fancy but not too hot.”

He carried his pink backpack and pink rhinestone lunchbox without a second thought. We walked onto campus and were greeted by one “Hi C.J.!” after another. He smiled and waved and got a little shy.

He got in line and scoped out his new classmates. After three years at the same school, he knows more than half of them. And, more importantly, they know him.

By the third day of school, he had a wrist full of bracelets he’d beaded himself and orders from classmates who wanted a few of his one-of-a-kind creations on their wrist too.

Tomorrow marks the end of the first full week of school and I would never jinx us by saying this has been the best back to school ever, so I’ll just say that C.J. is loving second grade so far and his teacher read Matilda to the class and C.J. loves Matilda.

 

 

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Friday Fodder: I Am Jazz, CNN Edition

61mmifi84kL._AA300_PIkin4,BottomRight,0,1_AA300_SH20_OU01_I Am Jazz:  The children’s book I Am Jazz will be released in a few days (Sept. 4). Preorder your copy today. I Am Jazz is the story of a transgender child based on the real-life experience of Jazz Jennings, who has become a spokesperson for transkids everywhere. I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek of the book and it’s so cute, the illustrations are happy and captivating and the book’s message is as beautiful as Jazz herself. Spread the word!

CNN: Kids breaking gender norms: CNN is working on an assignment about kids breaking gender norms. And, they want to hear from you! Share your story with CNN iReport  (it’s easy, I promise). Here’s more info:

Mo’ne Davis made headlines for being the first girl to throw a shutout in the Little League World Series, but she’s not the only youngster breaking gender norms.

From boys who wear pink and dream of being fashion designers to girls who play on an all-boys football team, there are many ways children have proven that they aren’t defined by stereotypical gender rules.

Parents, we’d like to hear how you’re embracing the ways your children express themselves. How are your children redefining gender roles? What have their experiences been like with their family and peers?

Share a photo of your child busting gender stereotypes, whether it’s their Halloween costume or a daily wardrobe choice. Please keep submissions and comments respectful. Your stories could be part of a larger story for CNN Living.

Head Start and Me:  On Monday I had the privilege of being the keynote speaker at a training session for preschool teachers and other staff of the Head Start Child Development Council in Stockton, California. I spoke to about 600 staff members during training sessions and, then, spoke at the San Joaquin Pride Center at an event sponsored by First 5 of San Joaquin and University of the Pacific’s Beyond Our Gates initiative.

It was such a welcoming and accepting group of people, all of whom were eager to learn how to better work with differently gendered kids. Read a newspaper article about my appearance here. 

photo401PFLAG Southern Pacific Region Conference:  September 13 is the PFLAG Southern Pacific Region Conference in Long Beach. I’m honored to be presenting at the conference. I heart PFLAG so hard. I can’t wait to see my fellow PFLAGers and meet some new peeps. Who’s going?

 

 

 

 

 

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What’s Trending Now (According To My 7-Year-Old Son)

Tie-Dyed Underwear: Yes, you read that right. Now, I’ve tie-dyed a lot of things in my life, but never my underwear. This was all my friend Marie’s doing. She knows that C.J. often has mixed feelings about his underwear. He no longer wants to wear girls’ underwear, but also finds boys’ underwear to be very boring. So, Marie bought a package of white Hanes boys’ brief and let C.J. tie-dye them. They are now his favorite. Marie is my favorite.

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These Shoes: He can’t get enough of these shoes. I’ve told him he can’t wear them to school when it starts. He didn’t like me saying that.  The end.

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Dreamcatchers: C.J. has always been my good sleeper. When we brought him home from the hospital, he consistently slept five consecutive hours at night. His doctor wanted me to wake him after four hours to feed him so he wouldn’t starve to death. I didn’t and he’s still alive. He’s never been one to have bad dreams. On the contrary, he reports that his dreams have been known to feature cotton candy, cats and Kesha. One night we were watching the Twilight movie New Moon in which Jacob gives Bella a dreamcatcher and explains what it does. C.J. was hooked. He bought himself a pink dream catcher and put it on his headboard. He’s just like Bella Swan. On vacation this summer, among his souvenirs were a dreamcatcher bracelet and another (much, much larger) dreamcatcher for his bed. When asked if the dreamcatchers keep his bad dreams away he said, “Yeah, I think so. But I don’t know why they are called night-mirrors, my dreams never have mirrors in them.”

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Wigs: Read my last blog post to see just how in to wigs C.J. is. Plus, over the summer, a drag queen taught C.J. how to put a wig on “the right way.” He puts his thumbs up, rests the base of his thumbs against his forehead, when I put the wig up to his forehead, he hooks it with his thumbs and keeps them there as I pull the wig down in the back. Then, and only then, does he release his thumbs. He’s perfected this technique and looks forward to using it for many years to come.

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Puppets: At present moment, C.J. wants to be a puppeteer when he grows up. He got his favorite puppet as another vacation souvenir and rarely goes anyplace without her.  Her name has been Lucy, then Bucket, then Harry, then Lucy, then Caroline.  She is currently nameless.  She is a cheerleader, which makes C.J. kind of want to be a cheerleader, but he wants to be a puppeteer more.

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SO SO Happy Back-To-School Backpack: C.J. loves everything that the SO SO Happy brand has to offer. (I mean, I do too, they make cool stuff, embrace individuality, build self-confidence, inspire positivity and acceptance among all beings). He can’t wait to rock this backpack on the first day of school.  He’d like you to know that “you can also wear it as a ‘frontpack’ to look like you are carrying the happy monster like a baby and that always makes people smile.

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My Son: Wigging Out

C.J.’s birthday is six months away, so – naturally — he thinks it’s time to start planning his party. Last year we celebrated with lunch, shopping and pierced ears for his doll at the American Girl store in Los Angeles.

How does he plan to top that?

By having his eighth birthday party at a wig and hairpiece store.
We were at the mall when he shouted, “I’m going to have my birthday party there!!!”

When I whipped my head around, I saw him pointing to Pauls Products – which serves the nearby retirement community, with its population of 16,000 and median age of 78 years.

“Take my picture in front of it and send it to Uncle Michael!” he said as he posed by the store with a hundred well-coiffed heads. When C.J. thinks something is so fabulous that I can’t possibly appreciate it, he has me take a picture of it and text it to my brother.

I did as I was told.

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“Now, let’s go tell them I want to have my birthday party there,” he said, swiftly turning on a heel.

“Your birthday is six months away. We don’t need to go in there today. We have some time,” I said stalling. I hoped he would forget about Pauls Products and move on to the next great birthday party idea. What kid has their birthday party at a wig store?

“But, I don’t want them to get all booked up,” he worried.

“That’s not the kind of place that usually hosts birthday parties,” I said.

“They will if you ask them. Let’s go see,” he said, ever hopeful.

“I’m not going in there. It’s creepy,” Chase said.

C.J. looked at me and I could tell he wasn’t going to take no for an answer.

“If we do go in there for your birthday, we won’t be able to take a lot of people.” I was trying to manage expectations without killing hope.

“That’s okay. I just want Uncle Michael. Cause I know he’ll like it.  Oh, and Grace. Cause she’ll like it too. And Grace’s Mom cause somebody has to drive Grace.” He was counting his guests and held up his fingers to show me that that was only four people. I guess I wasn’t invited.

“I’m gonna try on so many wigs. And I’m going to buy one,” he continued.

Shit. I guessed the wigs are really expensive because they looked very nice; not $15, like the chunky, rough ones he loves to get from the costume store before Halloween.

“If I get the wig, I get to keep the head right?” he asked.

“Oh god, I hope not!” Chase said instinctively.

“No you don’t get to keep the head,” I said, like I knew what I was talking about.

“Thank god,” Chase said.

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I tried explaining that the wigs were meant to be for people losing their hair due to medical reasons or age and that they weren’t just for dressing up and playing around in.

“But wigs are for everyone,” he argued. He was using my own words against me. I’m always saying everything is for everyone. Colors, skirts, dolls, wigs.

C.J. reluctantly followed Chase and me away from Pauls Products and to the car. He kept talking about the wigs and his birthday party.

“Maybe Uncle Michael knows of a wig shop in Hollywood where we can go instead,” I offered. Wondering where my brother’s actor, performer and drag queen friends get their wigs and hairpieces.

“Do they host birthday parties at Uncle Michael’s Hollywood wig stores?” CJ asked.

I told him I’d check into it when we got back from vacation.

Two weeks later, as we walked through the front door after seven hours on airplanes and in airports, C.J. reminded me to start looking into wig stores for his birthday party.

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As I looked up the number for Pauls Products, I wondered how many other mothers had to do this for their sons.

I called Pauls Products, feeling guilty for taking up the wig store worker’s time when they could be helping someone who legitimately needed a wig.

“Hi, would I need an appointment to try on wigs at your store?” I asked very sweetly.

“No, but you have to pay five dollars for every wig you try on,” the Pauls Products employee answered.

“Do you allow children to try on wigs?”

“No.”

I was quiet, thinking about the pediatric cancer patients who may be in need of a wig, but couldn’t get one at Pauls Products. I was silently feeling sad for them.

“Okay. Kids can try on wigs, too,” they said. “But, it’s still five dollars per wig.”

They didn’t seem thrilled about having kids in their shop. I couldn’t blame them.

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