Home > Uncategorized > Thanking whomever is listening

Thanking whomever is listening

The Child has developed an unusual quirk. She’s afraid of fallen tree flowers.

I’ve never lived anywhere but the Northeast, do I don’t know if the rest of the country has months like this, but in New England at least, in late April and early May, any tree that flowers has a brief and glorious burst of color and then all the buds fall. Whole stretched of the sidewalks are swathed in carpets of fallen petals, with ankle-deep drifts of pink cherry blossoms, maroon red buds, bridal white from the London Plane trees, and slick, rotten-sweet skids of decomposing magnolia petals.

It’s like Monet barfed everywhere.

This sometimes poses a problem when you’re walking with a 35-pound child who starts screaming that she’s scared, scared, scared mommy! If your arms are free, then it’s no big deal, you just scoop her up and go around. But if you’re laden with groceries and the stuff from the drugstore and that giant heavy bag I carry everywhere and there’s no way to go around because the other sidewalk, the street, and the side street are just as bad, then you’ve got a problem.

In particular, this is frustrating because, while I have tried every thing I and ten friends can think of to help her overcome this fear, I refuse refuse refuse to tell her to suck it up and bodily drag her over the flowers. I don’t remember being two, but I remember being young and I remember having adult tell me that my feeling were inconsequential and pulling em through situations that were — to me — awful and traumatic.

It’s a minor inconvenience and I hope she’ll outgrow it by next spring. If not, I’ll spend another year accommodating her. She’s a child and helping her through things at her own pace is my job. Time enough to force the issue later on. It’s the same reason that I enforce the draconian sleep schedule that seems to work for her.

I repeated this to myself time and time again one morning this week as I ferried her and one bag of groceries at a time over a longish stretch. By the time I got home, my allergies and sinuses and frustrations and clenched jaw had conspired to give me a raging headache.

Then I turned on NPR. And heard a story about transgender children. One family had decided to accommodate their child’s wishes and now had a daughter instead of a son. What struck me in the story was how miserable everyone was before they allowed their child to dress and act as a girl and how happy the child was afterwards. There was some interesting medical stuff, too, but mostly I was struck at how they were doing — on a much much larger scale — what I was doing: allowing their child to be herself, no matter how hard it was. And how that was really very apparently what was best for the child.

And how much very harder it was for them than for me.

I have to circumnavigate flower patches for one month out of the year and be at home at 6 pm. to start pajama time. This family has had to tell everyone, “Please meet my daughter, yes, she used to be a boy.” Has to make huge, life-spanning decisions for a 10 year old about medical treatment. Has to face the specter of violence that looms over any transgendered person, much less a child. Hell, the paperwork alone is enough to make you weep blood.

So I stop. I take a deep breath of flower-scented spring air. (I sneeze four times.) And I thank the universe for a happy, healthy daughter.

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