I’ve mentioned before that most of our stories are wonderful examples of love and acceptance. This is one of them!
If you don’t live in the Twin Cities, you may not realize how many options for schools we had to choose from when we were deciding about kindergarten for Conner and Murphy. I’d asked lots of parents and we finally decided on a year-round integrated district school. We chose it because of the melting pot of backgrounds in the school not realizing at the time the type of diversity we would be adding as well.
I got a call from the school in July about two weeks after Conner transitioned. The school asked for an evaluation of each kindergartner to see if they knew the basics like shapes, colors, etc. When I filled the applications out in March I marked the box “male” for both children. When I got the call from the school, I realized that we would be bringing Conner to meet a teacher who had the information with a box marked “boy” but seeing a child in sparkly sandals and a dress.
Naturally, I panicked.
Many parents of young transgender children are encouraged to have a “safety folder” in case Child Protective Services shows up at your door. No, I’m not kidding. It usually includes a note from the pediatrician, a therapist, and supporting documents such as photos your child has drawn of themselves in their affirmed gender to show history. We’ve never had to use it, but we know people who have. That’s all that was circling in the back of my head as I thought about how to proceed. Conner’s transition was still so new that every fresh situation brought on a minor panic attack featuring the worst possible scenario before I could calm down and realize it probably wouldn’t happen that way.
Such was the case when we went to the school. I had phoned ahead and asked to speak to the person who we would be meeting with. He had a very pleasant (and calm) voice that reassured me that he was not concerned that Conner would be showing up looking like a little girl. And, he wasn’t. Mike and I both sat in on the evaluation for Conner and Murphy. I beamed when they got an answer correct, and internally cringed when they forgot what a triangle was or the color brown. I’d like to think that we were pretty normal in that regard. Neither child said a bad word (another recurring nightmare and certainly not an out of the question possibility), and both of them were fairly well-behaved. I was quite pleased with my little brood.
After the evaluation, the very nice man, a teacher at the school, suggested he give our information to the school counselor so we could work out the details of preparing for kindergarten. He correctly assumed that we would have unique concerns to address before the first day. I heard from the counselor right away and was put at ease.
After some back and forth email, we met with the principal, school counselor, kindergarten teacher, and a special education teacher who had training, I believe, in child psychology. They assured us that Conner would be treated as any other little girl. She would use the girl’s bathroom if that was her preference and go by female pronouns. It was important to the school that Conner felt completely comfortable so she would be able to learn. I hadn’t realized at the time, but our school aggressively supported diversity and was filled with staff that were passionate about embracing all cultures. The had a class called Community Cultures where they explored different nationalities, different religions, different types of families, and all forms of individual orientation. Whole school events were themed around embracing diversity and other cultures. We truly could not have picked a better school for our children.
We breathed a huge sigh of relief as we prepared for kindergarten like any other family. Book bags, school supplies, jeans, dresses, and new shoes began to pile up as the first day approached. I was mostly apprehensive about the bus because I’d never ridden a bus when I went to school. I was convinced that my kids would get off at a pick-up or stay on the bus at the school and end up in a bus garage. Yes, I lost all logic and reasoning. I see that now. But then, you’ve likely never met the Twinadoes and are unaware of the shenanigans they’ve gotten themselves in over the years. Oh, the stories I could tell. And, I probably will tell at some point.
The first day of school was very exciting. The bus showed up late but that’s been par for the course on every first day since then. They got on the bus with barely a backward glance at the woman who carried them for 35 weeks and 5 days and spent 21 hours in labor to bring them into the world. That same mother jumped in the car and followed the bus to make sure they got off okay, with the father in the seat beside, quietly shaking his head in amusement. Once we got home, however, the silence that met us was glorious! We basked in a house that remained clean for seven whole hours until the kids got off the bus and destroyed it. But that was okay because they also talked non-stop about all the friends they made, how pretty their teacher was, and how they couldn’t go back the next day.
It was a great start to the first year of school.
Image credit: photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/73207064@N00/404321726″>Crayola Lincoln Logs</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>