Happy Mother’s Day to all of you moms and female primary caregiver adults out there!! Just in time for the holiday, C.J. has written instructions for how to drive your mom crazy. xoxo, Lori
Matt and I decided to watch the Bruce Jenner’s 20/20 interview with our sons. And, we’re so glad we did because it was really great, respectful and educational. We didn’t make a big announcement; we just turned on the television while they were in the room, like we often do.
C.J. sat on the floor playing Lego Elves; Chase was in our over-sized chair playing his Nintendo 3DS. Born into a generation of multitaskers, they were each doing their own thing while listening to our thing.
“Is he transgender?” they both asked as the show got underway.
“We don’t know. Maybe he’ll tell us now,” I said.
As Matt and I watched, the boys gave half of their attention to Bruce and half to themselves.
During the interview, ABC showed a Saturday Night Live clip poking fun at Bruce’s gender expression.
“Awww, that wasn’t nice!” Chase said, not looking up from his game.
When Bruce’s sister was interviewed, she said she cried after Bruce first told her about his gender struggle. She said she didn’t understand at first.
“Well you should understand it! It’s your brother! It’s your family!” C.J. yelled at the TV.
“Sometimes people don’t understand, even family members and friends,” Matt explained.
Diane Sawyer and Bruce both said that Bruce will emerge as “Her” – expressing more or entirely as female — when the time feels right.
“I can’t wait to see her!” C.J. exclaimed giddily.
“Yeah, why is he not a girl yet?” C.J. asked impatiently.
“Because he’s taking his time,” Matt says.
When the interview was almost over, C.J. looked up from his LEGOS and said very seriously…
“I’m going to be a boy my whole life.”
“Okay,” Matt and I said in unison.
“But, you know if doesn’t matter to us if you are a boy or a girl. That we love you no matter what,” I said.
“Yeah, yeah, I know,” he mumbled.
Our unconditional, nonjudgmental, totally supportive love bores C.J. now. But, at least he knows it’s there for him.
When the interview was over we paused the TV.
“What are your final thoughts on that?” I asked both of the boys.
“I wish he didn’t have to wait to transition until he’s so old,” Chase said.
“I want a snack,” C.J. said.
And, with that, out teaching moment came to an end.
Lately, their favorite way to pass time is to jump on our trampoline together. Even though C.J. would prefer to take turns performing mini choreographed gymnastics routines for each other, Chase more often than not convinces him to play “superheroes.” I’m not sure what all the game entails, but I do know that they each pick a superhero to portray. Chase is always Captain America and, because he is unfamiliar with mainstream superheroes, C.J. has made up his own.
C.J. is Banana Man.
Me: What are Banana Man’s superpowers?
C.J.: I can shoot bubblegums out of my mouth. And if I touch stuff my sticker power is activated and whatever I touch gets covered with stickers. And I can turn things rainbow colored. And I can have a Super Jump.
Me: What’s a Super Jump?
C.J.: I jump really high and when I land on the ground people fall like they can’t walk in high heels.
Me: What outfit does Banana Man wear?
C.J.: It changes every day. But sometimes I only wear underwear while fighting bad guys because I can’t handle the pressure of picking out an outfit every day.
Me: And who are these bad guys you fight?
C.J.: Chase when he’s Captain America, that’s why it’s okay if I’m only in my underwear, because he’s seen me in my underwear before.
Me: What does Banana Man like to eat?
C.J.: Cookies with milk and bananas and donuts and pickles.
Me: What does Banana Man hate to eat?
C.J.: Chicken and French fries and tires.
Me: Well, that makes sense.
C.J.: Maybe I’ll pick out one outfit that Banana Man mostly wears so I don’t have to feel pressured picking out a new outfit every day. Can you hold on a minute?
And, then he returned as Banana Man…
Someone recently asked Matt if he thinks he’s too hard on C.J. and his brother at some moments and too easy on them at others. The line of questioning irritated me because Matt is an amazing father. The next day, Matt sent to me this beautiful letter for safe keeping for C.J. (Chase got his own letter.)
Your mom loves this quote and has had it above her desk for years. I’ve seen it there and read it so many times that now it’s one of my favorites, too. It makes me think of you.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.”— Marianne Williamson
I have said in many interviews over the past two years that the most important job I have as a father is to raise you and your brother to be respectful, responsible, courageous people. I don’t care if you love males, females or people who identify as neither or all of the above. I don’t care what toys you play with or what colors you like. I care that you respect yourself and others. That you are responsible for your own things and actions and the effects they potentially have on other people. I want you to act courageously, not cowardly. You don’t have to be a hero, but don’t make other people your victims or allow people to make you theirs. Always remember, being compassionate and understanding is just as important as being strong and decisive.
You make me proud and I love watching you grow as the years keep flying by. I’m inspired everyday by your creativeness, bravery and confidence.
A lot of times, when I hear LGBTQ people talk about growing up, they say that their parents were mean to them. I want you to always remember that I never, ever, do anything just to be mean to you or because I don’t love you or because I don’t approve of you. I like you. I love you. I approve of you. I think you’re perfect.
I’m sure you’ll find my parenting frustrating at times. You may think my rules are too strict and unwavering. I’m okay with that, because I’m a parent. I’m trying to help you become the best person you can be. I will push you and teach you and love you and support you. That’s my job. I’m sure at times you will say that I’m too hard on you or that I hold you to higher standards than other people. I’m alright with that too, because I do. As a parent, it is harder to be tough and consistent than lenient and convenient. I’m constantly working my hardest to help you be your best.
As you grow up, you will disappoint your mother and me by making poor choices. That’s alright too. That’s why it’s called growing up. I just want you to grow from the times when you stumble. I’ll always be right behind you to pick you up and point you in the right direction again. That’s my job. Your job is to learn from your mistakes. You have to get back on the right path and let me hold your hand as you walk a little farther along.
When you are an adult and leave our home, you will never leave my heart or my family. By that time, I hope I will have prepared you to be an exceptional person with inspirational qualities. I am so proud of the person you are becoming and the character you are already demonstrating. Always be true to who you are. Never doubt who you are. Never.
Life will be tough and unfair. People will be jerks. You may be judged and people may be condescending toward you. Don’t let anyone make you play small. Don’t ever let anyone prevent you from being your most honest, whole self. Don’t shrink to make others feel more comfortable. Your true personality and character are what make you the person I love.
Your journey will be difficult and frustrating like many other young adults. Always remember that when things get hard I will be right behind you pushing you to learn and be resilient. I will always love you and support you and I will always have your back, ALWAYS.