Following are highlights from our month on Instagram. Click here for all of the months’ pictures, thoughts and happenings.
Me: CJ, what kind of dessert do you want me to make you for your birthday?
CJ: A gay wedding cake like they talk about on the news. Make sure the top level is smaller than the bottom level. That’s how wedding cakes are, even gay ones. And, I want candles that are the number 11. That’s two ones.
Me: *spends hours trying to make a tiered gay wedding cake for my 11 year old son and ended up with this shitty looking sad ass cake*
It takes a special kind of man to be as invested in his makeup-wearing son as he is in his football-playing son. And, to retire from law enforcement and become a better primary caregiver parent than I ever was. Who knew that, at age 17, I would pick this amazing human to be my partner? He was and is my best decision. Ever. Happy birthday, Matt. I love you more than chips and salsa.
Our nighttime routine used to involve a bath for CJ using his own custom-made bath bombs and then 30 minutes of TV and a little sweet treat.
Now it involves me on the couch holding him while he cries and worries about what a group of girls in his class (Allie included) will say or do to him the next day.
“I feel so awkward and embarrassed and ashamed. I wish this wasn’t happening to me,” he cried last night. By that time I was crying along with him.
Chase walked into the room and saw us and sat down. “Do you want to talk to me about it, Buddy,” he said sweetly and softly to CJ. Chase wishes he could do more to protect his little brother. But high school is a long way from elementary school.
Hate and meanness affects the entire family. It hurts our hearts individually and as a connected unit. It makes the confident feel powerless. It makes a high school brother want to walk his fifth grade brother to and from school with his arm around him while giving dirty looks to 11-year-old girls. It makes people who sparkle feel ashamed and awkward and embarrassed.
“The smell of mountain air renews my soul.”
Sometimes getting distance between you and your problems is the answer. At least temporarily. We’ve escaped daily life in favor of grandma and grandpa’s place in Colorado.
Positive thoughts, good vibes, hugs, prayers, whatever you can send our way, send it. CJ returned to school today after five days away. Last night and this morning were really rough for him. And us.
He cried. He worried. He had a stomachache. He cried some more. The break up with Allie continues to hurt like crazy. He feels alone at school. He wants to drop out. We’ve repeatedly told him that it will get better. But, when you’re 11, it’s hard to patiently wait for a time when all people will treat you kindly.
CJ wants to be noticed and have his absence felt.
CJ wiped the tears away as he dictated and I typed a two page letter to his teacher and principal detailing the bullying and treatment he has endured at school recently. I tried not to act surprised (or fly into a fucking rage) when he talked about incidents that he had never told me about before. Like being repeatedly stabbed with a pen, going hungry because his lunch was stolen and being made fun of because he has a lisp.
The best way to end a rough week? Take the “Smokey Eye” class at @sephoramissionviejo taught by @jennyg_makeup and walk out with a look that says “what haters?” Then go to H&M and buy a cute keychain for your backpack. Finish it off with your favorite Starbucks drink courtesy of @msnbarbie
Three of CJ’s best girl friends (who don’t go to his school) surprised him with a “Get Your Sparkle Back” full-immersion rainbow sleepover last night.
The agenda included:
- DIY spa services
- Watching Queer Eye
- Making Slime
- Blasting the Kinky Boots soundtrack
- Taking Awkward Family Photo style best friend pictures at JC Penny
They returned our boy with a smile, happiness and sparkle we haven’t seen in a few weeks. They will never know the positive impact they are having on his life.
I guess investigations take a long time. Or maybe it’s just that I’m not a very patient person.
One week ago today, CJ wrote a heartbreaking letter to his teacher and principal outlining the bullying he’s endured at school in recent months. The teacher and principal are taking the matter very seriously and conducting an thorough investigation. I can’t talk a lot about the process. But I will say it feels very slow. I don’t like slow.
Matt was a police detective for several years and assures me that I’m feeling what most people feel when they are awaiting answers. I’m frustrated, exhausted, sad and angry. I want to know what was done to my child and what the consequences will be. I want to know what is being done to prevent it all from happening again. I want a good nights sleep and to not be an anxious mess when CJ is at school.
CJ, too, feels like we are in a holding pattern that sucks. Classmates are being interviewed and people are talking. He’s watching the movie Wonder on loop. His spirits do seem higher, but considering how low they were, that’s not saying a whole lot.
I’m obsessed with this book. TOMORROW WILL BE DIFFERENT by @sarahemcbride had me highlighting passages and making margin notes like I was back in college.
Before she became the first transgender person to speak at a national political convention (2016) at the age of 26, McBride struggled with the decision to come out—not just to her family but to the students of American University, where she was serving as student body president.
Four years later, McBride was one of the nation’s most prominent transgender activists, walking the halls of the White House, advocating inclusive legislation, and addressing the country in the midst of a heated presidential election. She had also found her first love and future husband, Andy, a trans man and fellow activist, who complemented her in every way . . . until cancer tragically intervened.
TOMORROW WILL BE DIFFERENT is informative, heartbreaking, and profoundly empowering. Order it NOW at amazon.com/shop/RaisingMyRainbow
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You and your family are brave and amazing. I’m sorry CJ has to go through this. People not just the kids can be so mean. It’s nice to know that CJ has friends who are able to help him feel special and find that smile. No one deserves to be belittled or made fun of. Sending warm positive thoughts. Oh and the cake…. looked awesome. You made it and that’s all that mattered really.
CJ darling, I expect you and your folks have already been to see Love, Simon. My GNC boy asked to see it and there’s nothing like having a theater full of people whoop and applaud for a gay teen finding first love. My boy, like you, is still a few years away from dating and figuring it all out but he needed that movie. I was so glad it was there for him.
I was bullied, too, and very little has hurt worse than the loneliness that entails. My kids are still too small for big hurts like this, but I imagine that having your kid suffer through it is worse.
I thought of CJ today when I came across this quote from Twitter user willcolbykettles: “Gay culture is wishing you could go all the way back and be yourself from the beginning.” Even though this is hard, CJ will never truly regret being himself. He is wise beyond his years to follow his heart and I’m truly sorry his friends can’t be the same. It will be better when his tribe grows with those people who *do* understand. For now, hang in there. We’re rooting for you.
It so happens that I am reading the book about Sarah McBride right now. I wish she could meet CJ, and he would take heart that things will get better. Kids can be very mean to each other; they will pick on anyone who is different, or just because they need a target to boost their own self-esteem. I have been dreading the day CJ would face this, but I hope his sparkly self hangs tough, and he will hold his head high with the knowledge that his true self is a special and awesome way to be. He has the support of all your readers!
Would it be okay if I sent CJ a letter? His story reminds me so much of what I went through at his age. I thought it might comfort him to know he’s not alone, and that it does get better.
Its nice that CJ has a safe, secure, and loving place at home. Many young LGBT don’t have, It saddens me the other kids who are bullied at school like CJ is and I was and have no safe refuge at home. When I was in Jr. High it was complete hell for me and I wish no other have to that experience. High School was a bit better for me, a girl down a street was a senior when I was a freshman. Her BF was the football star QB, so basically; she would cut him off (you know what i mean) if they as in the team did not keep an eye on me. Also, for Mrs. Rodriguez the Art Teacher who kept her class room open during lunch for a safe heaven for us outcasts. It just took two people who made my schooling bearable and I thank them for it with all my heart. Once I started college, I joined the LGBT groups/center on campus and my life started to shine bright, So yes it dose get better. that is my storie
story not storie.
CJ’s friends who came to a Rainbow Rescue are the best friends ever. I’m going to send CJ a card but I think I’d better send them one as well, because they totally deserve them.
And just thinking, I’m wondering if Allie’s being pressured herself, and made to make choices no-one should have to make. I’m angry at the way she broke with him, but I’m also sad that she’s missing the chance to be friends with a beautiful lad who will be a wonderful adult one day, no matter what colour in the rainbow spectrum.
Much love from Australia.
30 years from now, when you are a fabulous middle-aged person living the good life with your quirky friends who haven’t the slightest idea of how to pretend be mean, your wonderful supportive family, your kickass job and a home decorated with Style with a capital S – maybe you’ll look back to this time and wonder: “what was the name of that girl who was a friend one day and then a horrible bully the next? What WAS her name?? Really, she must have had some sort of terrible issues to do such a thing. What was her NAME??” And you’ll think on it a little bit, and then maybe forget about it forever.
Well, today is not that day. I know it hurts and no matter how much the rest of us would like to fix it for you, we cannot. The Allie formerly known as Your Friend is not available now, it appears she’s busy ruling over a herd of airheads. And yep, herds of airheads have the power to build their leader up and up until the leader and the airheads all feel very special and important with their special, special, specialness. That’s probably a good feeling. Until the herd turns on one of the members. Or the leader. And then, what a surprise! They don’t like being treated that way! Huh. How about that?
On the other hand, YOU, my friend,do not lead a herd of airheads. Although you may never meet 98% of us, YOU have supporters all over the freakin’ world! Do you realize that? Some of us wish we could have been as brave as you back when we were in school. Some of us wish you lived closer so you could have playdates with some kids we know who appreciate a little sparkle. And I think all of us wish we could have a friend like you, CJ. We may not live in your city, your state, or even your country, but we know you are creative, and thoughtful, and fun. We know YOU are a wonderful friend. YOU are an inspiration to many, many people.
So. I hope the pain lessens everyday until soon it is just gone. You are a tough cookie and you can make it through this! We have faith in you!
This breaks my heart. Today my 10 year old son who knows he is gay and would like to wear make up to school and prefers the company of girls told me his group of 4 girlfriends at school told him they need their space from him. They told him to find other friends, so they could take a break from him. Reading this to him makes him know he is not alone in his feelings, but also makes it clear to him that the world can be hard and unfriendly. Not a lesson a 10 year old should have to learn. Thank you and CJ for having the courage to be authentic and to continue to share both the good and the bad.
Your son’s situation sounds soooo similar to CJ’s. Talking, listening, distracting and reassuring help. But, our most useful discovery during the last month has been these two books. We read a few pages before bed every night. CJ really likes them. They say the same things Matt and I tell him, but he connects with the messages more hearing them from books. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1609582233/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o07_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 and https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1609587383/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o07_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
I am glad you wrote back. I am glad you read those books. I am sure my son reads to them as well. I really don’t know what to say.
Keep doing what you are doing with your son. I am happy.
You brought tears to my eyes. My heart goes out to CJ and your family. I hope things at school improve for CJ. You all will be in my thoughts.
Sending love, peace and acceptance to you and your beautiful family. This too shall pass, but I’m sure it doesn’t feel like that when you’re in the middle of it. Stay strong and loving and open. The rest of the world will just have to catch up!
I wish I could say it was only CJ but my 10’year old faces very similar cruelty at school. Not only does he like all things girl, in a society that wants to keep him in a boy box, but he is on the autism spectrum. When I read your stories of crying on the couch I see our families struggles in yours and it gives me hope that we will stand up to hate and meanness and change this world for the better. Girls are so mean. Our son tries so hard and they just continue to shut him down. I hope this instill in him the power of resilience. Good luck with the school. Thank you for sharing your story so we don’t feel so along out here.
My heart goes out to all of you too. I was heartened to hear that he does have friends (albeit not in his school) who came out in force and in love to support him and raise him up. I hope that the knowledge that there are people who love and support him is enough to take him through the storms of today. ❤
I’ve been waiting for a CJ update. I HATE that the girls in his class have ganged up against him with that awful Allie. And that he’s been bullied and didn’t even tell you. My heart hurts for CJ and your whole family. Thank God he has some girlfriends outside of school with whom he can still sparkle!! Hoping the investigation gets real results. Hang in there CJ!!! Lots of love and strength to your family.
Looking forward to hearing that the school has taken a position where CJ feels safe and loved. That Allie is a little bitch – I am hoping that this wonderful blog will make her and her parents see what a horrible person she is being, along with the girls (and their family’s) she runs with.
If I could hop on a plane and come give you all hugs that’s exactly what I would do. Keep being the awesome family you are. When they go low…you go high. ❤️
Im so sorry for you all that this is still gone-on but in the end CJ will rise a stronger better person with true friends by his side.
Lori here is a link to a poem i wrote you all may like it i think it sutes the situation yall are in right now =
BY FOR NOW
I’m so sorry that CJ has to endure this 😦 I hope things will improve quickly. I was bullied in school for not looking “like a girl”. It was never adequately addressed by my teachers. I really hope the school responds in a way that makes CJ feel safe and loved again in his school! ❤
So much love sent CJs way. 11 is such a hard age as is, to have to suffer at the hand of your once-best-friend must be awful. I was bullied in school at 11 and now 20 years later I can still remember it; words cut deeper than some realize, especially at such a young age when you’re trying to find a balance between wanting to be yourself and fitting in. It gets better though, CJ. The next year I went on to find the friends I’m still best friends with all these years later. Hugs kid, keep your head up.
I had hoped that the situation with Allie (who is a real asshole, btw) would not worsen, but indeed, it has. I wish there were more I could do to help, so if there is anything, please let us know. We share your pain, frustration and sadness…we do. I’m so sorry.
I’m sure somebody mentioned this before but the orange county LGBTQA center has an amazing trans and gender fluid youth group. It’s a weekly drop in group with tons of additional events.
Parents also get a chance to connect with each other and support each other. Please come. You and CJ already have a huge community ready to welcome and support you.
Like you, so wishing for a way to make it better. So thankful for the “Sparkle Back” friends…. Blessings to you all!
Wow. I thought the break up was bad, but the aftermath is way worse. I am so sorry CJ has to endure this. And really, he must endure. It will make him a stronger person and give him tools in the future for dealing with the assholes he runs across. 11 is a difficult age, and the beginning of difficult tween-teen years. I LOVE his friends and their “Get Your Sparkle Back” full-immersion rainbow sleepover! That is by far the BEST idea I have ever seen. Kudos to those kiddos! I am sending all of the rainbow sparkly love and good vibes your way.
To you, the mom of two wonderful kids – you are doing everything you can, and yes this will resolve, maybe not entirely to your satisfaction, but it will. If you find yourself in a situation where it is unbearable to witness how these girls are treating CJ (and no doubt others), and you feel like you cannot talk to their parents, well because… Then you can talk directly to the girls, outlining what the consequences of their words and actions will be if they do not pull their shit together. Rest assured, they will move onto a new target at some point, but it doesn’t help heal CJ’s heart. He has to do that on his own, with all of the help you provide and from those around you.
To CJ – You continue to be you. You don’t have to carry this alone, and you have so many people in your corner, including those who have endured this kind of pain. Breakups suck. They just do. Mean girls are mean for a reason, and know that you don’t have to be like them to be liked for who you are. Some people will never understand you, and maybe that’s the point. They do not deserve your time and energy. Give yourself time to grieve, but then get back on that shiny unicorn with the rainbow mane, and ride into the next chapter of your life. You deserve all of the happiness in the world, go and get it!
My heart aches for you and your family as I read your post. Girls can be the worst bullies, much more cruel than boys, in my experience as a teacher. I am grateful that CJ has some good friends. It sounds like they came through for him when he needed them most. It’s too bad that they don’t go to his school. I pray that the bullying will stop and sending strength and love to you and CJ. I hope our country can someday come to fully accept and include people who are different.
That type of behavior is very hard for me to understand! I am so sorry CJ is having to go through this. I was bullied a lot in school, and it destroyed my school years. I hope things get better very soon!
My heart aches for CJ. I want you to know that I have been following you for years and celebrating your family from afar. My family stands with you on the side of Love. CJ, you are FABULOUS. Know that you are !!
Love Julie DarmodyLatham from Syracuse NY
Firstly, Happy 11th Birthday CJ! The cake looks great.
Secondly, my heart is breaking for CJ and your family. Sending all my love from the other side of the world and please let CJ know that I love reading all about his fabulous life and can’t wait to continue. Lots of love from Melbourne, Australia 😘
Love and hugs to CJ and your family. Things will be different maybe not tomorrow but they willl get better. Tween and teen girls are a tough bunch to say the least. Someday those young ladies will be very ashamed of themselves and their behavior. Stay fabulous CJ!!! 💝
Oh CJ, if only you knew how many people out in the world love and support you. You are already at 11 a force to be reckoned with, and you are undoubtedly going to have a huge
impact on the world. You already are!! Allie will go on to live a regular, boring life, while
your rainbow unicorn drag race life will be spectacular. I promise you this pain will not go on forever. Try your best to let the eye rolling roll right off you, and keep advocating for yourself. You are such a fantastic kid and you are valued and loved. Hugs to you kiddo!
This breaks my heart. I try to keep up with your posts and I bought your book a few years back which I have enjoyed hearing your story. I can’t imagine how it feels to be going through something like that. I wish all of these young kids could understand that things will get better and the best is yet to come. I hope things turn around for you all.
My heart goes out to you and to CJ and the rest of your family. Is there anyway to send CJ a card that just says “You’re awesome!”? A little pick-me-up note he could get from time to time? If not, can you just tell him that I think he’s awesome and to keep being the sparkly, amazing person he is?
A card would be so appreciated. We’ve started a box of supportive notes, cards, emails, etc that CJ has received lately. He looks through them when he is feeling down and needs some encouragement. Raising My Rainbow, PO Box 444, Trabuco Canyon, CA 92678
Card is on its way!
My heart goes out to all of you….I am so sorry that CJ has to go through this…I hope the Principal gets to the bottom of this bullying and puts a stop to this behavior. I am happy that CJ has the friends that gave him his specials day and that he came home with his smile. Sending love and positive thoughts to your beautiful family.
You are all amazing, and we fully support you and your entire family. CJ is an awesome human being, and he is a role model for my 8 year old son. Sending love and light to you all.